Category Archives for "Pinterest"

social media strategy template
Feb 10

Social Media Strategy Template: Develop Your Social Media Strategy in 60 Seconds [Version 2.0]

By Maria Peagler

[UPDATED FOR 2016] — download your free social media strategy template and worksheet, and learn how to develop your unique social media marketing strategy for your business.

social media strategy template

If you’ve been using social media marketing but haven’t seen results . . .

. . . then it’s time for a do-over.

And it starts with identifying which social network is your low-hanging fruit: where can you get the BIG win in the shortest amount of time?

That’s what the Social Media Strategy Template and worksheet will do for you: help you develop and optimize a no-fail social media marketing strategy unique for your business.

Socialmediaonlineclasses.com turns five this month, and I’ve learned much about how people use social media marketing to promote their brands.  People usually assume Facebook is the first place they should start, when it could be that it’s totally the wrong platform for them.

So here’s a step-by-step process for developing the perfect social media strategy using our template . . .

1. Who’s Your Most Profitable Customer?

All your social media marketing efforts will be for nothing if you’re not reaching the right people.  Who are your customers? Even better, who are your most profitable customers?

Here’s a hint . . . it’s NOT everyone.

I’m surprised at entrepreneurs who can’t answer this question. Or, if they can, they are often too vague. Be obsessively specific here. While we all would love to think everyone will want our products, it just isn’t so.

Identify your potential customers down to their:

  • age
  • sex
  • education level
  • income level
  • what publications they read
  • what websites they visit
  • what their budget is
  • are they local or nationwide

Use the Social Media Strategy Template and Spreadsheet as your guide to identify your target audience (link is to my free Social Media Strategy class).

 

2. What Are Your Goals?

Don’t know?

That’s okay — you’re in good company.  I have clients who are ranked #1 in their industry nationwide, making seven figures, who’ve told me “I don’t know what social media marketing can do for me.”

Let’s take a look . . .

The top three goals for members here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com are:

  1. Grow my business
  2. Increase my sales
  3. Get more visibility

Other common goals are to get more traffic to my website, launch a new product, develop a personal brand, and do fundraising for a non-profit.

You can achieve all those goals with social media marketing.

Ask yourself: what do you NEED to accomplish with social media marketing? Use the template and spreadsheet as a guide to answer questions to help you identify your primary goals (click to download).

social media strategy template spreadsheet

Download this spreadsheet to build your social media strategy

Which social networks can help you reach your goals? That’s what you’ll answer in #3 . . .

3. Where Are Your Customers?

What’s the primary social network your customers use? Once you’ve identified who your most profitable customers are (step #1), you can identify where they are in social media.

It’s likely they use more than one social network, but don’t feel like you need to be on ALL of them.  You want to fit your marketing to the optimal social network:

  • where your customers are
  • has the ability to help you reach your goals

For example, if you are a local florist and use Instagram to show beautiful photos of your arrangements, that’s great for increasing your visibility among potential customers. But, if your goal is to drive traffic to your website or get people into your shop, Instagram can’t do that for you:

Poppies and Posies shares gorgeous photos of their flowers & arrangements on Instagram

Poppies and Posies shares gorgeous photos of their flowers & arrangements on Instagram

Google+ and Facebook are much better choices for driving traffic. Why?

  • Google+ (even if your customers don’t use it) helps you build a robust Google local business page (that your customers see when they ARE searching for a local florist)
  • The majority of your customers are using Facebook.  Offer Facebook fans a Valentine’s Day special, or even better, offer them an exclusive during your slow season.

If you need help identifying which social network is best for your business, take this 60-second quiz to find out.

4. When Will You Communicate?

How often do you plan to post to your social networks — multiple times per day, once per day, or a few times a week? (Be realistic about your schedule and what you can accomplish.)

What I’ve found is that most entrepreneurs get excited about starting their social media marketing, post for a month or two, and either get frustrated over a technical issue or life gets in the way.

And they stop . . .

. . . then it gets even more difficult to restart. It’s cumbersome because they’ve lost their proficiency with their social networking, and they end up having to re-learn the basics:

When did you last post on your social networks?

That’s okay — we all have stuff that gets in the way.

However, I do have a recommendation that makes it much easier to continue your social media marketing even during your busy season or when life throws you a curve ball — an editorial calendar.

They’re also called a content development schedule — call them what you like — but by identifying what you’ll be posting about each month and eventually each week, you make social media marketing much easier (and far more likely to be consistent with it).

5. What Differentiates You?

They key to making a connection with potential customers in any form of marketing is the right message at the right time.

The right message is one that sets your brand apart, differentiating it from the competition and as a perfect fit for your ideal customers.

Differentiating your brand is often the hardest step in developing a social media strategy (even for the professionals).  So let’s take a look at some brands who do it well:

ImagiBrand clearly differentiates themselves directly on their Twitter profile by saying “Every brand has a story. Let’s have some fun with yours!” What a great motto — you know if you hire them you’re going to get a company with a great sense of humor:

scrn_2014-11-19_09-43-03_AM1

Molly McGrory, a real estate broker who sells over $100K in her own listings from social media alone, brands herself as a real estate agent who can sell your home quickly, shown here in this Facebook post:molly mcgrory branding

Getting some ideas for your own marketing?

6. How Will You Execute?

The devil is in the details, isn’t it? The perfect social media strategy won’t produce results until you execute it consistently.  So how do you do that?

Make it so simple you can’t fail.  You’ve already identified the elements of your strategy — now you need to combine those into a simple, elegant action plan for your social media marketing.

To do that, download the spreadsheet that accompanies the social media strategy template (you can get both of these in my free Social Media Strategy Class). The spreadsheets guides you, step-by-step, through each of the six elements, plus what you need to have in place to put your strategy into action, helping you to identify:

  1. what you need to learn to do your social media marketing
  2. what tools you need to use
  3. who is responsible for doing your social media marketing
  4. how will you measure success

 

my favorite business books
Jan 06

My Favorite 15+ Books for Small Business Owners

By Maria Peagler

my favorite business books

What’s the one thing profitable business owners have in common?

They’re lifelong learners.

After all, if you generate profits in your business year after year, you need to stay up-to-date on your industry, how business practices change, and how to stay current.

As an author, I’m a voracious reader, not only of fiction, but non-fiction business books. Today I’m sharing with you those business books that helped the bottom line of my business.

415-zyGlFSL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_1.  Less Doing More Living

Author: Ari Miesel

This book was one of my favorites of 2014. Written by a Ari Miesel, a business owner who has a debilitating disease and is the father of twins, who found a way to automate much of his business. I’m usually not a big fan of automation tactics, as they remove any personal touch your clients need from you. But Ari developed an online productivity system to automate much of the behind-the-scenes, freeing you up for the customer touchpoint tasks. I was able to save hundreds of hours and literally thousands of dollars by using his methods.  He has perfected the art of automating his business and his life so he can focus on the priorities needing most of his attention.

Favorite Highlight

“According to the 80/20 rule, I should be focusing on only the things that only I can do, like creating original content for the blog.  Everything else should be handled by someone else.”

41Qn40zaexL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_2.  The Checklist Manifesto

Author:  Atul Gawande

One of my favorite business books of all time.  I’ve recommended this book often and cannot emphasize enough how the process of creating a checklist helps me to document lengthy and complex processes and train my staff how to do them as well. Gwande shares examples of critical professions relying on checklists to avoid loss of life, such as architects, engineers and World Health Organization surgeons.

Favorite Highlight

“But finding a good idea is apparently not that hard.  Finding an entrepreneur who can execute a good idea is another matter entirely.  One needs a person who can take an idea from proposal to reality, work the long hours, build a team, handle the pressures and setbacks, manage technical and people problems alike, and stick with the effort for years on end without getting distracted or going insane.  Such people are rare and extremely hard to spot.”

download3.  Anything You Want

Author: Derek Sivers

A slim, yet invaluable book from Derek Sivers on his journey from being a music lover who coded a simple program to founder of CD Baby, selling it for over 21 million dollars.  What I love about this book is Derek’s candid story of ups and downs in his journey, and his advice on enjoying your own and not getting swallowed by sharks.  Derek has done multiple TED talks and is generous with his time, answering questions via email from readers on his website.  I asked him a question for my son about going into the music business, and we was kind and open with his advice.

Favorite Highlights

“Never forget absolutely everything you do is for your customers.  Make every decision – even decisions about whether to expand the business, raise money, or promote someone – according to what’s best for your customers.”

“It’s counterintuitive, but the best way to grow your business is to focus entirely on your existing customers: just thrill them, and they’ll tell everyone.”

51HtHc4sTvL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_4.  12 Week Year

Author: Brian Moran

I almost didn’t include this book in this year-end list because the author, Brian Moran, was decidedly curt when I reached out to him about an issue on his website.  However, I have gotten such tremendous results using this method I would be remiss in not mentioning it. Brian’s method recommends intense focus on a few goals over a 12-week period, even scoring yourself on your efforts and results.  I’ve been using his method for an entire year, and I can report I’ve gotten better results working with his method on my own than in hiring “experts” to tackle the same problem.

Favorite Highlight

“In 12 week planning, you identify the top one to three things that will have the greatest impact, and pursue those with intensity.”

515vWYjaFzL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_5.  The First 20 Hours

Author:  Josh Kaufman

A similar book to the 12 Week Year, but Josh Kaufman’s (The Personal MBA) focus is on mastering a skill in a short period of time – 20 hours to be exact.  What I loved about this book is similar to what Tim Ferriss does in his 4 Hour Chef: Josh recommends breaking down the skill set you need to learn and identifying the critical elements you need to master.

Favorite Highlight

“What feels like the long way is the shortest way. Zero-practice shortcuts don’t exist. No practice, no skill acquisition. It’s as simple as that.”

41Jl9XR0HqL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_6.  4 Hour Chef

Author: Tim Ferriss

As a gourmet cook, I didn’t read Tim Ferriss’ book to learn how to master cooking. Instead, I read it to learn how to “hack” learning, which is what Tim is REALLY teaching in this book, using cooking as the vehicle.  Tim figured out the key to quick learning early on working for Berlitz — the foreign language company — and applied those same tactics to other learning disciplines.  He distills the quick-learning principles to acronyms easy to remember like CAFE and DSSS, and these tactics help me learn quickly in an industry that changes daily.

Favorite Highlight

“The lowest volume, the lowest frequency, the fewest changes that get us our desired results is what I label minimum effective dose (MED). It’s a broad concept that applies to almost any field.”

41O9Zptxu7L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_7.  168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think

Author: Laura Vanderkam

I interviewed Laura Vanderkahm on the blog here after reading her book about time management. I hesitate to call it a time management book, because I’ve decidedly eschewed those in favor of smarter approaches to life and how I choose to spend my time.  Laura’s book is an eye-opener into how much time we all REALLY have, how we spend it, and how there truly is enough time in the day to do everything you need and want.

Favorite Highlight

“Once you know what you want to do in the next year, you can break this down into what you want to do in the next month (120 – 240 hours) or week (24 – 26 hours). On Sunday nights, or before the start of your workweek, sit down and list the actionable tasks you need to do to advance you toward these goals. Then, this is the key part: schedule them in, knowing exactly how long they will take.”

download (1)8.  Delivering Happiness

Author: Tony Hsei

Tony claims this book is all about how Zappos delivers an over-the-top customer service experience.  I view it as the bible for anyone who wants to turn a boring business into a global brand that never competes on price. The shoe business was about as exciting as watching paint dry, until Tony turned it upside down with fun, great teamwork and amazing customer service.  A must read.

Favorite Highlight

“I realized that, whatever the vision was for any business, there was always a bigger vision that could make the table bigger. When Southwest Airlines first started, they didn’t see their target market as just limited to existing air travelers, which was what all other airlines did. Instead, they imaged their service as something that could potentially serve all the people who traveled by Greyhound bus or train, and they designed their business around that.”

51gn6AuFkNL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_9.  The Lean Startup

Author: Eric Ries

If you’ve heard the terms minimum viable product, pivot and lean, then you’ll understand the impact Eric Ries has had on the startup industry over the past five years.  Eric tells the story of how his failing tech business learned to stop guessing at what customers wanted and actually interacted with them and making tiny improvements along the way.

Favorite Highlight

“Success is not delivering a feature; success is learning how to solve the customer’s problem.”

10. Mastering Evernote

Author: Brandon Collins

I finally got on the Evernote bandwagon in 2012 and this small Kindle book helped me figure out how to customize my experience in Evernote.  As great a product as Evernote is, I never found it intuitive to use, which is why it took me so long to adopt it into my business toolkit.  This book finally got me using it like a pro.

Favorite Tip

Add most-used notes to the the shortcut bar so you don’t have to search for them repeatedly.

download (2)11.  Moonwalking with Einstein

Author: Joshua Foer

Summary

Not a business book per se, but a fascinating read at how regular people can develop super-memories. I’ve been able to pump up my own memory with these techniques, and help my son do so for college exams.  Not a how-to book, but a telling of one reporter’s story of covering the world memory championships, to challenging a participant to coach him in memory techniques, to winning the championship the next year. Truly a fun book to read.

Favorite Highlight

“The more we pack our lives with memories, the slower time seems to fly.”

51GWfhjxetL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_12.  The Stupidly Simple Way to Backup

Author: Christian O. Schilling

An inexpensive Amazon Kindle book that has a smart strategy for backing up your life and business (and what you don’t need to backup): personal photos, application purchases, etc.  I’ve been days away from a book deadline when my home was struck by lightning, killing all the electronic equipment in the house.  My backup saved me!

Favorite Highlight

“I save all my application serial codes within my password application. If I ever need to install an application again, I just download it from the web and look up my password in 1Password (or LastPass).”

download (3)13. The Power of Visual Storytelling

Authors: Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio

2014 was the year of the image in marketing, and has forever raised the bar for our expectations of visual communication online. It’s no longer enough to have great content: it needs stunning visuals to accompany it, and Ekaterina Walter’s book talks about this phenomenon, how it has impacted business, and her favorite tools for creating images (even if you’re not a photographer or graphic designer).  Listen to my interview with Ekaterina here, then see case studies of small brands using visual storytelling here.

Favorite Highlight

 “. . . usage of visuals has resulted in a social media era that rewards creativity.”

download (4)14. Thinkertoys

Author: Michael Michalko

Michael is a genius at structuring creative exercises that get you thinking beyond the everyday. I’ve used his techniques to develop formats for my infographics, identify new features for my products and far more.

Favorite Technique

Lotus Blossom Diagramming

download (5)15.  The Ultimate Sales Machine

Author: Chet Holmes

Chet breaks down the sales process for people who don’t think they’re salespeople.  My favorite parts of his process are “pig-headed persistence,” identify your six to do’s everyday, and discovering the common characteristics among your perfect customers.

Favorite Highlight

“The key to being productive is to stick to the six most important things you need get done that day. “

illust-ebook16. Virtual Freedom

Author Chris Ducker

Chris owns a VA placement service, and often exaggerates what a VA can do in this book.  However, I appreciated much of his management and bonus strategies for VAs and have used them myself.

Favorite Highlight

“Request a list of the VA’s personal recommendations for your business. This could include potential products, ways to better serve your customers, or any tools or training that would help your VA do her job better.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of my favorite books for small business owners.  What are your favorites? Add to this list in the comments below!

100 social media resources 2014 post
Dec 16

100+ Social Media Marketing Resources from 2014

By Admin Tester

100 social media resources 2014 post

Every week here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com we give you a list of our most recent resources with our Weekly Top 5: your lessons, infographics, webinars, and articles. For the first time ever, we’ve gathered all those resources from this year into one GINORMOUS list for you, making it uber-easy to find what you need to grow your business using social media marketing.

Enjoy!

Social Media Strategy

  1. My Social Media Presentations, Templates and Videos
  2. First 100 Days of 2013 Challenge: Creating a Social Media Action Plan
  3. Marketing Infographics on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Social Media Strategy & More
  4. The Ultimate Guide to Productivity Tools for Small Business
  5. How to Automate Your Social Media Marketing: Webinar, Slide Deck, Audio & Infographic*
  6. Content Generation Infographic
  7. How to Give Thanks to Your Audience Using Social Media
  8. Where is Your Most Profitable Network Hiding?
  9. Social Media Engagement Swipe File
  10. How a Local Business Uses Social Media as Their ONLY Marketing
  11. How to Avoid Freebie Seekers in the Sharing Economy
  12. 7 Surprising Secrets I Learned from Beauty Vloggers
  13. What Millennials Need to Know About Social Media for Business
  14. Which Tool is Best for Scheduling Social Media Posts for Multiple Clients?*
  15. How to Write a Press Release That Doesn’t Get Ignored*
  16. How to Find Your Most Profitable Marketing
  17. How to Use Hashtags Across Social Networks*
  18. What You Need to Know BEFORE You Do Social Media Marketing in Europe
  19. How to Go on Vacation without Abandoning Your Business
  20. What’s New in Social Media: 3rd Quarter Round-Up
  21. How We Wecome You at SMOC (or How to Onboard Your Clients)
  22. Beyond Strategy: How’s Your Social Media Execution?
  23. Why Your Social Media Marketing Isn’t Generating Revenue
  24. How to Rebrand Yourself and Launch a New Career
  25. The One Thing You Should Do on Social Media Every Day
  26. Online Training for Different Learning Styles: Social Media Training
  27. The Learn Startup Approach to Education in America: Minimum Viable Education
  28. New Cheat Sheets in Your Swipe File
  29. Learn How to Build Your Own Stock Photo Library Using Your iPhone
  30. Most Popular Articles from the First Half of 2014
  31. Our Top Presentations — Get ‘Em Here!
  32. This Surprising Social Network Outperforms All Others*
  33. Want Us to Do Your Social Media?  We Do That!
  34. The State of Social Media for Small Business
  35. Great Hashtag Contest by YesToCarrots
  36. The Ultimate Guide to Social Media for Local Business
  37. How Can I Rebrand My Business?*
  38. What’s a Good Click-Through Percentage?*
  39. Small Business Websites Live or Die by These Reviews*
  40. How to Get Your Business in Front of 10,000 Visitors Every Month*
  41. Advice on Starting a Local Social Media Marketing Business**
  42. Unified Social Media Strategy: Content+Website+Social+SEO+Email
  43. Help! How Do I Market a Painful Business (Literally!)?*
  44. Redesigned Social Media Strategy Class: 2014 Edition
  45. Download Your Online Marketing Multi-Tool Bonus
  46. Have You Updated Your Marketing Strategy Yet?
  47. How to Use Infographics to Increase Your Search Engine Rank*
  48. Online Marketing Multi-Tool*
  49. Never Again Be at a Loss for Your Next Blog Post*
  50. Create Your Own Branded Images*
  51. Your First Online Store: Webinar, Audio, Slide Deck & Infographic
  52. 2014′s Best Social Media Marketing Infographics
  53. New Cheat Sheets in Your Swipe File
  54. What to Look for in Online Social Media Training
  55. How to Write a Blog Post in 10 Minutes Flat
  56. Press Release Template*
  57. How to Allow Visitors to Submit Blog Posts & Images to your Blog*
  58. How a #1 Local Business Monetizes Social Media Marketing
  59. Most Effective Way to Pitch a Guest Post to Top Bloggers*

Facebook

  1. Facebook Marketing Infographic
  2. How to Reach More of Your Facebook Fans and Get Higher Engagement
  3. How Facebook Just Made Your Life Easier*
  4. How Often Should I Post to Facebook in 2014?*
  5. How to Get Double Duty from Every Facebook Post*
  6. What Facebook ISN’T Telling You About Its Latest Business Page Redesign
  7. HUGE Facebook News: Google Search Now Links to FB Posts Using Hashtags
  8. How to EASILY Increase Your Facebook Post Reach*
  9. How to Create a Facebook Timeline with a Clickable Button*
  10. New Timeline Design Goes LIVE this Week — Are You Ready?*
  11. Facebook 2014 Changes — What You Need to Know*
  12. Website Images Won’t Appear on Facebook Post Links*
  13. How to Find Which Apps You Have Installed on Facebook*
  14. Facebook Like Box *
  15. How to Boost a Post, Create an Ad Using FB Ad Manager*
  16. The Most Successful Small Business Advertiser on FB*
  17. Facebook’s Changes to Business Page Timelines & NewsFeeds*
  18. How to Stay on Top of Facebook’s Latest Changes*
  19. Facebook Changes 2014 Checklist *
  20. Five New Videos in Facebook 101*
  21. How Can I Ensure My Facebook Posts Are Seen by the Public?*
  22. How Do I Ask My FB Friends to Like My Page?*
  23. New Videos in Facebook 101*
  24. Contests & Fundraising on Facebook*
  25. Facebook Doesn’t Offer a Category for My Business?  What to Do?*
  26. Facebook 103 is Entirely New for 2014*
  27. How to Generate 1,200% ROI on a $50 Facebook Ad
  28. Easy Facebook Ads on a Budget
  29. Facebook Primer for Small Business*
  30.  Facebook Marketing Infographic*
  31. SMOC Forum Focus-Facebook

Webinar

  1. How to Do a Blog Tour*
  2. How you can use Visual Content to Make your Marketing “Sticky” with your Audience
  3. Three Brands and How they use Visual Content in their Marketing
  4. Social Media Manager Learning Track
  5. Your First Online Store
  6. How to Find Your Target Market*
  7. Visual Storytelling: Video Case Studies
  8. Free Hootsuite How-To Video*
  9. How to Get More Sales from Your Website 1
  10. How to Create a Stock Photo Library
  11. How to Get More Sales from Your Website 2
  12. How to Get More Sales from Your Website 3
  13. Outsourcing Your Social Media Marketing*
  14. How to Brand & Watermark Your Images*
  15. How to Outsource Your Social Media*
  16. Social Media for Local Business*
  17. Content Marketing Made Simple*
  18. Member Website & Social Media Critique*
  19. Easy Facebook Ads on a Budget *
  20. 1:1 Coaching with Maria for SMOC Members*
  21. How to Get More Sales from Your Website 4

Pinterest

  1. What’s the Perfect Size for a Pinterest Pin?*
  2. Pinterest 101 – Updated to Newest User Interface Design*
  3. Profitable Pinterest Marketing
  4. Pinterest Contest Swipe File*
  5. How to Make a Pinterest Pin Go Viral Even before Your Website Launches*

Twitter

  1. How a Brand Differentiates Themselves on Twitter
  2. How to Differentiate Your Brand on Twitter in Just 10 Seconds*
  3. The Difference Between Twitter’s Retweet Button and @RT*
  4. Twitter Image Size Cheat Sheet*

Google Plus

  1. Should I Use a Google+ Business or Personal Account for My Marketing?*
  2. Google+ Circles Impact on SEO*
  3. Should You Use Google+ for Business, Personal, or Both?*

LinkedIn

  1. LinkedIn Sales Checklist Infographic: 5 Ways to Rock Your Profile & Generate Leads
  2. LinkedIn Master Tactic: Search a Colleague’s Contact List*
  3. LinkedIn Quietly Removes Activity Feed from Profiles*

 Instagram

  1. Instagram Marketing Infographic
  2. How to Make Photos from Followers are Visible on Instagram*
  3. Instagram 101 Debuts This Month!*

 YouTube

  1. How to Customize Your YouTube Channel with a Welcome Trailer*
  2. Multiple Businesses Need Multiple YouTube Channels?*

WordPress

  1. WordPress 101 is all new for 2014*
  2. In Between Jobs & Learning WordPress?*

SEO

  1. How to Identify Your Most Profitable Keywords for SEO*
  2. SMOC Forum Focus-SEO

Slideshare

  1. Slideshare 101 is All New in Our “Chunked” 10-Minute-a-Day Format!*

* Indicates Members-Only Content

Your Ultimate Guide to Productivity Tools
Dec 02

The Ultimate Guide to Productivity Tools for Small Business

By Maria Peagler


Your Ultimate Guide to Productivity Tools

Ever wish you could clone yourself to get more done?

We’re all striving to accomplish more with less resources in the 21st century, and that’s especially true if you’re a solopreneur or small brand. I’ve made it my mission to keep my business (and my training) as simple and elegant as possible. That makes it easier for me to develop and advance a thriving business while also being a wife to an entrepreneur and involved mom to two teenage sons.

My secret?

Awesome tools. And a hack I’ll show you in a moment (saving me HOURS of time each week and thousands of dollars I don’t have to spend on labor that I can invest in my business).

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a tool junkie (you know — those people who are ALWAYS touting the latest app they’ve downloaded and can’t wait to tell you about it). I don’t have time for that.

Instead, I invest in the best tools that make it possible to run an agile business I love and allow me to enjoy a full life outside of work.

So today I’m sharing with you my favorite tools I use on a DAILY basis and WHY I think they’re the best at what they offer.

Google Apps for Business

The paid version of Gmail, Google Drive, Docs and more. This is a huge switch for me, as I made a lucrative career from being a technical writer of books on Microsoft and other Windows’ products. Five years ago I purchased a Mac (because it just works, period) and didn’t want to pay for the Office Suite, so I started using Google Docs instead.

Google’s suite of products is nowhere near as robust as the Office suite, so if you need deep features like long documents and tables of contents in your word processor, stick with Word. But for what I do, which is mostly tables, presentations, and simple PDFs, Google Docs works great.

I’ve become an enormous fan of using Google Sheets for applications far beyond financials — planning, dashboards, and libraries of data I keep in a spreadsheet. It’s so simple to create a worksheet with multiple sheets and keep track of goals, reports, and content libraries within one file.

But why the paid version?

In May of this year, my email address was blacklisted as a spammer due to my hosting company sharing my virtual private server (VPS) with another company that was identified as sending SPAM email. The only way to fix the situation was to enroll in Google Apps for Business and use the paid version of their Gmail. That way, I would never again have to worry about my email being listed as SPAM.

The best part of using Google Apps for Business? Google support. Yes, really! Once you are a paying client, Google provides the BEST support I’ve ever encountered.

Related resources: How to Combine Social Media and Email Marketing to Capture Leads You’re Missing

WordPress.org

Not surprising, since I teach a class on how to create your website using WordPress, but my love of this platform goes far beyond just being able to create a simple website with it.

When I started Socialmediaonlineclasses.com, I researched the most popular learning management systems (LMS) at the time, which were Moodle and Blackboard. I found them to be bloated, cumbersome, and better suited for enterprise organizations and institutions.

I also tried BuddyPress, which has a social network feature built into it, but found it to be unstable and not as well-supported as WordPress.

So why do I love WordPress so much? It allows me to:

  • create a simple website I can modify without being a developer
  • add a blog to my website that has the same look and feel as my website
  • create an online training site by adapting WordPress posts, pages, categories and shortcodes into an agile learning system I can change as my needs evolve
  • find answers to common WordPress problems because it has a global network of users who have encountered the same issues
  • easily hire developers and designers who have worked on WordPress and have deep experience with it
  • easily train interns and new hires on how we use WordPress because they likely already have experience with it
WordPress 101 Learn how to build your own blog/website — no coding required
Members-Only Content
Login to access this learning track

 

Wishlist Member WordPress Plugin

Wishlist Member (WLM) is a WordPress plugin allowing me to make my paid classes private. It’s categorized as a membership site plugin, but you can do much more with it than that.

WLM was not the first solution I tried (BuddyPress, S2Member, WPDev Member), but it’s the ONLY one that worked consistently, was stable, and well-supported.

They also have a companion membership program called Wishlist Insider I belonged to for a year to learn how others used it, network with WLM users, and get up-to-speed quickly to get the type of online training site I wanted.

Newer membership site plugins are available now, but I plan to stick with WLM. They offer a one-time price (vs. monthly for the newer plugins) and I don’t want to have to learn a new system and transition my members to it. I’ve found a solution that works for me and allows me to stay agile and robust in my offering.

Trello Project Management

Trello is an online project management system I absolutely love (and its cute dog mascot Taco).

I’ve tried BaseCamp, Asana, and even developed a class on Harvard Project Manager years ago. Most project management tools are needlessly complex and dull to use. The beauty of Trello is in its simplicity: it has a Pinterest-like interface, using cards, and you can organize your projects in any way that suits your business and working style.

It has few restrictions on how you setup your projects: that freedom allows you to make your Trello system truly your own.  You use Organizations, Boards, Lists, and Cards to create your projects and invite team members. You can add links, images, video, and text formatting to your projects to make them multimedia-rich.

We use Trello for our in-house training and orientation, our editorial calendar, ongoing projects, social media services clients, and website development projects. I can assign dates to projects, communicate with and tag team members about projects and see a calendar view of our editorial calendar to see what’s coming up next.

Aweber Email Marketing

The first thing I did in my business, before I ever had a website, was invest in email marketing software. I started out using iContact, but have since transitioned to Aweber for the segmentation features (I can send automatic emails to my audience depending upon what their interests are).

I had used ConstantContact for clients and didn’t like its user interface, and wasn’t interested in free so never tried MailChimp. I wanted a tool I could use immediately and start seeing ROI.  I loved iContact’s simplicity and great support, and appreciate Aweber’s terrific support as well.

Aweber has a steeper learning curve than other email marketing applications, but that’s the trade-off for more features, and I’m happy to pay it.

I use Aweber for sending out our weekly newsletter and sending automatic follow-up emails to people taking our free social media strategy class. I love the reporting I get: I can immediately identify what topics are most popular, what people are clicking on and what they open.

Snagit and Voila Screen Capture Tools

I use screen capture tools daily in developing and updating our training classes, building our Swipe File to show members examples of brands doing social media well, providing customer support, communicating with my team members, when we have technical challenges and are communicating with support teams, and far more.

When it comes to training, a picture really is worth a thousand words, and members love seeing an informative image rather than have to sit through a video.

I used TechSmith’s Snagit for years and found it to be the best screen capture tool available. However, when I upgraded to Mavericks operating system and to the latest version of Snagit, it slowed my computer to a crawl. So I transitioned to Voila, a Mac-based screen capture tool. It doesn’t have as many annotation and editing features as Snagit, but it takes advantage of the Mac operating system, allowing me to drag and drop images into almost any application.

 

Swipe File "Steal" these tactics from successful brands for your own business
Members-Only Content
Login to access this learning track

 

Evernote

For a long time I just didn’t get why so many people were fanatical about Evernote. Sure, it was a great note-taking app and you could do a lot more with it, but I hadn’t really investigated all of its features.

I became hooked for personal reasons: I was researching a family trip we were taking to Washington D.C., and saved our hotel, tour reservations, itineraries and more to Evernote, and it was available on my smartphone while we were traveling. I could research a museum and capture a screen listing its hours/directions, and that screen capture would be available on my phone.

I now use Evernote for my business: writing my daily To-Do list, saving articles I want to refer to later, outlining large projects, and so much more.

The Productivity Hack That Saves Me Hours Each Week

The best part of using these applications? They can work together in automating much of my business. I can set up tasks to be automated, saving me time, and my virtual assistant can work on far more productive projects.

This hack allows me to practically clone myself for far greater productivity.

Some of the tasks I automate:

  • Dictating the foundation for a blog post into my smartphone and saving it to Evernote
  • Creating a content library by building a list of our blog posts and their URLs in a Google spreadsheet
  • Automatically uploading a video to YouTube, which in turn creates a blog post draft in WordPress
  • Creating a spreadsheet of my latest Twitter followers, their bios and follower counts
  • and much, much more

I set up these tasks just once, and they run automatically as necessary. My virtual assistant doesn’t have to spend her time on these items, so I can have her generating important reports and focusing on customer service (tasks that require the human touch to really do well).

How do I automate these tasks? Stay tuned: tomorrow’s post will give you the details!

 

Nov 20

How to Avoid Freebie Seekers in the Sharing Economy

By Maria Peagler

How to Avoid Freebie Seekers in the

I’ve got some tough love for you today . . .

Do you give away too much in your business?

We’re in a “sharing economy” aren’t we? You’re supposed to give away content to get traffic to your website, to get engagement on your posts, and to ultimately generate revenue, right?

After all, Seth Godin says that’s what creates a “tribe.”

Here’s the tough love part: are you Seth Godin?

Didn’t think so.  Neither am I.

So for the rest of us, how do you turn the expectation of “free” into a sale without turning people off? That’s what you’re going to learn in this post, plus a terrific example of how one of the major car brands does this better than all the rest.

Identify Free vs. Paid in Your Business

In my own business, I give away a free social media strategy class: it’s shorter than my paid classes, doesn’t have as much multi-media content, but it gives people a “taste” of the quality and scope of what being a Socialmediaonlineclasses.com member is like.

how to avoid freebie seekers

Visitors see Pricing right away, plus they can optin for a free class, both on Home Page

For some people though, that’s not enough.

They want to see more video — “I want to see what your videos are like.”

I point them to my YouTube channel. I DON’T give them access to paid content.

Period.

Did they complain?

Yes, some did.

Did I add more video to my free class?

No, I didn’t. I don’t want members who are constantly complaining and never satisfied, so those who don’t like the free class have weeded themselves out of the potential member pool.

They did me a HUGE favor by self-identifying themselves as NOT potential members.

Set Expectations Early That You’ll Be Selling

Every visitor touchpoint I offer includes marketing to set the expectation that Socialmediaonlineclasses.com is a paid service.

I make it abundantly clear by displaying Pricing & Plans prominently in the website main menu. From their first visit, people realize I offer a premium training experience they need to purchase to receive.

When visitors opt-in to the free Social Media Strategy class, the first screen they see is a one-time offer for 25% discount off of Annual Membership.  I make it clear they’re still getting the free class and details are on their way to their Inbox. In the meantime, they get an exclusive offer no other visitors see.

how to avoid freebie seekers

Free class subscribers get a special offer after they optin

In an autoresponder series using Aweber, those same subscribers get a daily email from me for six days, telling them how to get the most out of their free class. At the end of each email, is a reminder that they have X number of days to take advantage of the discount for Annual Membership.

how to avoid freebie seekers3

I train my visitors to expect a marketing pitch from me in almost every email

Our blog posts offer deep content on social media marketing that get shared globally, and in each post are links to recommended classes, webinars, and infographics readers can receive as a member to learn even more about that particular topic.

how to avoid freebie seekers4

In this blog post, I have five recommended resource pitches embedded in my educational content

I’m not overly-aggressive, but almost every message visitors get from me will have some sort of an offer included it.

The first priority here is the best-quality social media training, whether in paid classes or on our public blog. However, included in that training is our marketing pitch.

 

Make It Clear Why People Should Pay for What You Offer

There’s so much available for free on the web that you need to make it stupidly simple WHY your brand is better than the free content available elsewhere.

Sure, you can find free social media articles all over the web. But how easy is it to find the training you need, on the topic you need, from a source you trust, that’s up-to-date?

Profitable business owners don’t waste time spending hours searching for a free solution on the web.  They’re willing to pay for the right solution, right now.

I share my class outlines so people know exactly what they’ll be learning; I show the infographics they’ll get; I list the member webinars available; and I reassure visitors that we update our content continuously, so they learn what works NOW, not what worked six months ago.

Your most loyal customers will become your brand advocates, telling others why they shouldn’t waste their time on “free,” but choose your brand instead, as SMOC member Pat Roa Perez did here on a blog post she penned for Shewrites:

How to avoid freebie seekers

Member Pat Roa Perez became a brand advocate and shared why she paid for Socialmediaonlineclasses.com

Are you making it clear to your potential clients WHY they should pay for your offering? How is yours better than free?

Over-Deliver Once Visitors Become a Client

Have you ever felt like once you made a purchase, the honeymoon was over?

Before you bought, the brand was chasing after you like a puppy, showering you with sloppy kisses.

Once you purchased, however, that puppy started chasing someone else and totally forgot about you.

What you experience is called “buyer’s remorse,” and it’s the brand’s fault for not welcoming you with a positive experience.

Once your visitors become a client, you need to WOW them with an awesome customer service culture.

  • Reassure them they’ve made the right purchase.
  • Communicate exactly what will happen now, how they can use your brand’s offering, and how they can get get help if they need it.
  • If you offer a guarantee, explain to them how it works and how they can use it.

This process is called onboarding, and it’s critical to reduce refunds. Read more about how we onboard new members in this blog post.

I purchased a Subaru this year, and they offer roadside assistance as a courtesy to their car owners. “Great,” I thought, “I’ll need to add that telephone number to my smartphone so I have it handy.”

Guess what? Subaru put the roadside assistance number directly on the driver’s side window, where you can see it WHEN you need it:

Subaru reassures car owners with their roadside assistance # right on the window

I’ve had roadside assistance with the last three cars I’ve owned, but never did the auto brand make it so EASY to actually use their service. In fact, most of them made it downright difficult to find that number.

Subaru makes tiny gestures that win over their customer’s hearts. Yes, their cars are reliable. But they also offer a culture reinforcing their tagline “Love. It What Makes a Subaru.”

Summary

You are competing with FREE everyday when you have an online business (or low-cost competitors with a brick-and-mortar presence). Ensure you’re educating your potential clients as to WHY your offering is better than free or low-cost.  Don’t be afraid to include marketing messages when you deliver your best stuff.

What has been your experience with offering free content in your social media marketing? Share your experience in the comments below:

Nov 11

7 Surprising Secrets I’ve Learned from Beauty Vloggers

By Maria Peagler

7 Surprising Secrets I’ve Learned from Beauty Vloggers.

Beauty vloggers are not professional marketers, but they are CRUSHING traditional branding & promotion with their own style. Find out how they do it.

7 surprising secrets i learned from beauty bloggers

I have a confession to make  . . .

I LOVE watching YouTube beauty and hair videos.

In fact, over the past year I’ve been consuming a lot of beauty vlogger content: I drastically changed my hairstyle from blow-drying everyday to going naturally curly, and I needed a lot of help in maintaining my new hairstyle.

So where did I turn?

YouTube, of course.

And after watching hundreds of hair videos, following beauty vloggers on multiple social networks, and seeing how they work individually and together — I WAS BLOWN AWAY.

Most of these ladies (and gentlemen) don’t have traditional marketing or technology backgrounds, but they are ROCKING their social media presence. I’ve observed them carefully, identified their secrets, and am sharing them so you can adapt them for your own marketing.

1. Beauty Vloggers are Prolific Content Generators

The YouTube beauty vloggers I watch are all generating new videos at least once per week, sometimes more often. Their #1 secret to their success is creating a generous amount of content.  Here are some examples:

Goss Makeup Artist is a UK-based vlogger who records videos from his home makeup studio. Nothing fancy, but look at the number of videos he has on his channel — over 700, and he’s earned 1.8 million subscribers:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

Sarah Stevens (married now, not sure of her married name) started making videos as a high school student, continued on through college (filming from her dorm room), and now continues as she’s married, living and teaching English in Qatar. Again, she has a huge amount of content: over 200 videos and 14K subscribers:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

Angie (doesn’t give her last name) has a beauty channel for menopausal women, and again, has over 200 videos and 46K subscribers. She crushes the idea that you have to be young to be beauty vlogger:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

Louise Glitter, another UK-based vlogger, offers a plus-sized beauty channel that draws a loyal audience of 1.7 million subscribers! Notice she also has a video collection over 250+:

what i learned from beauty vloggersJenell Stewart is a black vlogger who focuses on natural hair styles and products for women with curly hair. She has over 500 videos and 105K subscribers:

what i learned from beauty vloggers

Notice how diverse these channels are? They come from men, women, young, middle-aged, all colors, sizes and nationalities. The one secret they all have in common is creating A LOT OF CONTENT.

 

2. Beauty Vloggers Share Their Editorial Schedule

What day is your favorite television show on?

You knew immediately, didn’t you?

The second secret of these beauty vloggers is they adhere to a publishing schedule and share it with their audience. They schedule their own “shows,” just as network and cable television do.

Goss Makeup Artist displays his schedule directly on his YouTube banner:

scrn_2014-11-10_12-54-21_PM copy

Are you letting your audience know when they can expect new content from you? Are you consistent enough to publish a schedule at all?

3. Beauty Vloggers Follow Content Themes

One of the trends I noticed early on in my video watching phase is that vloggers often follow established themes in their videos:

  • Reviews – reviews of products both provided by brands asking for the review and those they’ve purchased on their own.  Most vloggers were 100% transparent when they had been approached by a beauty brand and gave their candid review, sometimes being “I wouldn’t use this again.”
  • Empties – reviews of multiple products they’ve used up and saved for this video.
  • Hauls – sharing products purchased during a shopping trip. Not a review video, but a highlight of products they’ll be using and probably reviewing in the future.
  • Get Ready with Me – a how-to video of the vlogger showing their beauty or hair routine. Normally the video shows the vlogger getting ready and they add the narration afterward, so they’re not talking directly to you in the video.
  • Collabs – collaboration videos with a vlogger colleague.  These usually take two forms: either both appear in the video together, or they each do their own version of the video and link to the other person’s in the video description.
  • How-to’s – the tried and true how-to video, done in the vlogger’s own style.

Beauty vloggers’ third secret is they follow similar content trends, making it easier for them to pick up viewers from other beauty channels.  Their videos are similar, but still different enough, to interest viewers who want to learn and watch other vloggers in the same space.

What content themes appear in your industry? Have you watched enough video to know these trends? If not, take some time to watch channels with large viewerships and identify their content themes.

4. Beauty Vloggers Optimize Their Social Media Profiles

The fourth secret of these savvy vloggers is the one I was the most impressed with: they take advantage of every opportunity to share their other social networks and their most popular content. They use their popularity on one channel to build their audience for their others.

Sarah Stevens has Facebook, twitter, Instagram and blog accounts in addition to her YouTube channel, and she points to them not just once, but twice on her banner area: once with hyperlinks, and once with icons under her title:

scrn_2014-11-10_12-55-20_PM

 

Sarah also optimizes each of her videos with links to her other social networks, how to subscribe to her YouTube channel, and her most popular videos. Shown below are the links she shares from the video people see first — her channel introduction video:

scrn_2014-11-10_01-51-13_PM

 

You can do the same whether you have a YouTube channel or not. Almost every social network offers the ability to link to your other social networks. You can do this in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Slideshare, and Google+.  You can also point to your most popular content in multiple ways on your blog.

Give people the EZ button so they can follow you, consume your content, and find your best stuff.

 

5. Beauty Vloggers Understand the Power of Images

Their fifth secret is one that showcases the power of images.  Yes, their main content is a video, but vloggers know the first glimpse anyone will ever see of their video is the thumbnail.

Here, Sprinkle of Glitter showcases her videos with thumbnails that usually have her looking directly at you and display a clear title:

sprinkles of glitter optimizes her video thumbnails

 

 

6. Beauty Vloggers Collaborate to Increase Their Visibility

I found it surprising how small the beauty vlogging world was. Each vlogger specializes in their own niche and often collaborates (called a “collab” video) with someone else in their niche to increase their visibility.

Rather than seeing each other as competition, they help one another reach a larger audience. That’s their sixth secret: they rely on colleagues to build their audience.

Here, Louise collaborates with another vlogger Karen, and links to Karen’s video and channels from her own:

sprinkle of glitter collab video

 

7. Beauty Bloggers Have True Relationships with Their Audience

Many of the beauty vloggers I’ve profiled here get their video ideas from their viewers — and give them credit for it, naming them in the video.

They often receive hundreds of comments, and respond to them individually. They have true conversations with their fans, answering questions, responding to suggestions, and even asking their audience for feedback and their own experiences.

Of course, being so visible means you’ll open yourself up to some “haters,” but these vloggers didn’t let that stop them.  In fact, they didn’t respond to haters at all.  And often their audience defended them against snarky commenters.

That’s the seventh and final secret: while many social media experts tout “relationship marketing,” these vloggers establish deep and loyal fan bases that buy the products they recommend, watch every video they share, and anxiously await their next one.

Summary

I must admit I completely underestimated beauty vloggers: I started out simply wanting to learn how to style a new haircut. What I ultimately observed, however, was much more than that.

Beauty vloggers demonstrate you don’t need to be a professional marketer to grow your brand. What it does take is passion, consistency, honesty with your audience, listening to them, talking to them, and making it easy for them to find you.

What beauty vloggers do you follow? What have you learned from them about beauty and marketing? Share in the comments below:

visual storytelling infographic
Oct 29

Visual Storytelling for Brands

By Maria Peagler

 visual storytelling maria peagler

Editor’s note: We’re continuing our Visual Storytelling theme this week with a look at how brands can market using visual content, along with examples of those doing this well.  You can listen to my interview (or read the transcript) of my interview with Ekaterina Walter, co-author of The Power of Visual Storytelling here.

The human attention span has dwindled to eight seconds — less than that of a goldfish — according to a 2002 BBC article. With so many competing websites, social networks and entertainment on the internet, how can brands make their message stand out, be remembered and generate results?

Visual content: our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text. Done well, your story told in a visual way, sticks with readers far better than just words on a page or screen.

What is Visual Storytelling and How Does it Benefit My Business?

Visual storytelling encompasses far more than just using visuals in your marketing: it’s about telling your brand’s story — what your purpose is & what you stand for — in a visual way.  I like to think of it as Start With Why meets The Back of the Napkin meets Made to Stick.

Marketing your brand visually makes your message sticky: your audience remembers it, engages with it, and is far more likely to actually consume it.  Here are visual content statistics:

  • Web posts with visuals are 180% more likely to get engagement
  • Visitors spend 100% more time on web pages with video
  • Press releases incorporating video get 45% more traffic
  • Web posts including infographics get 12% more traffic

If you’d like more traffic from highly engaged visitors who are more likely to buy from you, visual content is a highly effective approach.

What Visual Content is Best for Your Brand?

The type of visual content you should use depends on several factors, including what’s easiest for your team (or you) to create, as well as your audience demographics and where they hang out online.  While Vine is a great place to find 18-20 year-olds, it won’t be effective for reaching baby boomers. Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest are better suited for that audience.

Identify your audience, discover where they are online (and offline), and target them according to your business goals.

Tell Your Story Using Simple Images

A brand who does this well is is Northern Valley Auto Body in Englewood, NJ, as shown here on their Facebook page.  They take before & after photos of the cars they repair, as well as in-process pics.  Not only is it fascinating to see how they work, the story their images tell is one of trust and transparency: the usually off-limits to clients body shop has completely opened their doors and invited you to watch their process:

visual storytelling case study

Photos of in-process restorations instills a sense of trust in their brand.

Notice the simplicity of this visual story: photos taken in the garage with a smartphone and uploaded to a Facebook album. No filters, no captions, nothing but photos of their work. This didn’t take a graphic design team, but one person who stopped long enough to document the brand’s work.

Educate & Entertain Using Video Tutorials

Missouri Star Quilt Company opened their doors during the height of the U.S. recession, and their odds were so slim of making it they were covered by Wall Street Journal reporter Meg Cox (a quilter herself). How founder, Jenny Doan, not only survived the recession but became the largest employer in her small town is all due to her free quilting tutorials on YouTube.

missouri star quilt company tutorials

Missouri Star Quilt Company grew their brand to the largest employer in their town using YouTube video tutorials

Jenny’s videos are simple, brief, but show her personality and simple ways to make a quilt from pre-cuts: fabric pieces already cut into shapes ready for quilters to sew together. Not only do her videos market the shop’s inventory of pre-cut fabrics, they also help reduce her labor costs, as pre-cuts don’t require an employee to cut a piece of fabric for every customer, as do bolts of fabric.

Jenny’s early videos were rough, with poor lighting and showing her sitting at a sewing machine. But, viewers weren’t concerned with the production quality: they loved Missouri Quilt Company’s videos, and some of their most popular videos are their oldest, garnering over a million views.

Reach Business Clients Using Presentations

Marketing Experiments is a well-known brand in the marketing industry that uses presentations and videos to reach their target audience. They offer hour-long “clinics” where they share the results of their case studies, research, and do live optimizations of brands who need their advice. They offer the clinics live, but also upload the replay to YouTube, and the shorter slide deck to Slideshare:

visual storytelling case study

Marketing Experiments offers their “marketing clinics” on video as well as slide deck presentations

visual storytelling case study

Marketing Experiments uploads their presentations to Slideshare for those who don’t want to watch the entire video

 

Speak Your Audience’s Language with Infographics, GIFs, Memes

Here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com we use infographics to offer quick guides to social networks:

2014 Edition of Facebook Marketing Infographic

2014 Edition of Facebook Marketing Infographic

Dr. Pepper uses GIFs, Hubspot has an entire Pinterest board dedicated to marketing memes, the White House creates Vine videos, and brands aplenty are on Instagram. So no matter who your audience is, you can reach them using some form of visual content.

Create Your Visual Roadmap

To get the most from your visual content marketing, establish your roadmap: your brand’s strategy and execution plan, by answering these questions:

  • what does your brand stand for (and how does it differ from your competition)?
  • what is your brand’s purpose?
  • what are your business goals for your marketing?
  • what are your customer’s pain points?
  • what marketing efforts are working now?

Your answers shape your business’ unique visual roadmap, making your brand unforgettable to your audience, and resonating with them in a way no plain text ever will.

What type of visual storytelling is your business doing and what have been your results? Share your story in the comments below.

Related Resources

Visual Social Media Webinar*

Your First Business Video Webinar*

Facebook Image Sizes Cheat Sheet

Google+ Image Sizes Cheat Sheet*

Instagram Marketing Infographic

Instagram for Business Case Studies

How to Build a DIY Stock Photo Library for Social Media

VIDEO TUTORIAL: How to Build a Stock Photo Library Using Canva

Your First Business Video Checklist

Our Most Popular Infographics from 2014

Our Most Popular Infographics from 2012

* denotes members-only content

Oct 17

Pinterest Marketing How To: Makeover Your Boards to Drive Sales [VIDEO]

By Maria Peagler

This week’s video tutorial walks you through the makeover of SMOC member, Craftsy teacher, quilt designer and business owner Debbie Maddy’s Pinterest boards.

Though Debbie already has a strong presence and good following on Pinterest, she can optimize her content to increase her brand’s visibility and drive more content.

Regardless of what product or service you provide, you can use the suggestions offered in this makeover to improve your own pins and create a stronger, profitable Pinterest presence.

Timestamps & transcript are below the video:

Note: As of August 2013, Google retired their keyword tool and replaced it with the Keyword Planner, which isn’t nearly as useful. So I now recommend using the Bing Keyword Tool. The keywords it provides work equally well in any search engine. All you’re doing is changing where you do your research.

Video Timestamps

00:15:  SMOC Student Debbie Maddy’s Pinterest Makeover

01:27:  Suggestions to Improve Boards & Drive Traffic

02:48:  When Pin Links Don’t Match Website URL it Can Be Confusing

03:45:  Create a Dedicated Board for Each Pattern

04:25:  Encourage People to Visit Website for More Information & Include Price

05:15:  Use Search Engine Optimization to Make Pins More Visible

05:50:  Repins Are Key for Visibility

06:30:  Add Keywords People Use to Search for Your Products to Product Description

07:30:  Google Keyword Tool

07:57:  Input Website URL

08:41:  Identify Most Popular Keyword Ideas

09:26:  Low Competition, High Search Volume Keywords Are an Excellent Opportunity

10:30:  Optimize Existing Pin for Higher Visibility

11:05:  Debbie Maddy Pinterest Makeover Recap

12:18:  Don’t Hard Sell on Pinterest, But Include What People Are Looking for Separately

Transcript

Welcome to this month’s social media makeover. I’m making over the Pinterest boards of Debbie Maddy, who is a Socialmediaonlineclasses.com student who is a quilt designer, teacher and founder of her own business. She asked me to take a look at her Pinterest boards and offer some feedback. So here we’re on Debbie’s Pinterest account and you can see that she’s got 41 boards and 632 pins. She’s got 29 likes, which is really good. She’s got a lot of followers and you can see that she has far more followers than people that she is following. That’s always a good sign that you have influence. 

And so Debbie is doing a really good job. Her Pinterest boards are beautiful. And she’s got a variety here. Even though her business is quilting she has a wide variety of boards. Some are about fabric, jewelery, just things that she loves, inspiring quotes, cool stuff just for fun, recipes and she’s got some great titles here. So she’s doing a really good job with her Pinterest boards. I do have some suggestions for improvement, and mostly that has to do with how she can drive business from her Pinterest page. 

Now looking at her boards, it’s difficult to figure out exactly what Debbie’s products are here. She’s got a link to her website and to her Facebook page, which is fantastic. But what I’m not seeing is anything like my quilts, my patterns. I want to see something that says what Debbie’s business is and shows it here on Pinterest. Now she does have a board here called Quilts I Love. And when you click on this it will show you a variety of quilts which include her patterns, but also quilts that she just likes. But you cannot tell here which are which. I can’t tell here which are Debbie’s quilts and which are ones that she just really likes. 

Now the ones that are Debbie’s Quilts are these right here. I looked on her website and looked to see which ones were hers. But you’ll notice here she’s got a good description here. Modern Art with Fabric, her company name and her name. But the link here doesn’t say her website. It says webstore.quiltropolis.net. Now that’s a little confusing. And so when I click on this what it does is it takes me to the cover of this pattern. But again, it says webstore quiltropis. A lot of people, I think, probably wouldn’t click on that, because they think they’re going immediately to a store and not Debbie’s website. But actually, if you click on it, it does take you to Debbie’s website. So here you get more information and you can click to view additional images that are in the pattern and in the book. So she’s doing a great job here on her website, but it’s not really apparent on her Pinterest board. 

So here is what I recommend for Debbie. For this particular pattern, or for each of her patterns, I recommend making one Pinterest board for each of her patterns. And for this one you could call the board Modern Art with Fabric. This is a contemporary pattern. It’s designed to go with a contemporary fabric. And so you could put that in the description. And I’m going to talk a little bit more about that later. But the reason I recommend that you have an entire board is that you can include these additional images right there on Pinterest. And I would also say something like click on the image to go to my website and see more photos or a longer description. 

There is also a recent study showing that Pinterest pins that you can buy from, that have a dollar figure attached to them, actually get more clicks than pins that don’t. So it’s worth experimenting here for Debbie by putting a price in here. And all she has to do is in the description, add the price, and you would do that with a dollar figure. So whatever her price is–$20–if she puts this on her Pinterest description it will put a little tag her, banner with the price, and she’ll get more clicks for it. 

The other thing that I think that Debbie can do here is do a little bit of Search Engine Optimization. And what I mean by that, you don’t have to be an SEO geek to do this. But there are a few things that Debbie can do here to really increase how visible her patterns are. Now they’re already going to be very visible because you can see this board right here already has 496 followers. And the more followers you have–generally, to your Pinterest account and to your boards–the more visibility they’ll see. But the big thing for visibility is to get repins. When somebody repins your quilt or your board, that immediately puts it in front of all of my followers on Pinterest. So that is something that you really want to work to get are repins, and so there’s a couple ways that you do that. 

One is with a contest. And contests are really bit on Pinterest, and have a contest where people repin. And that’s something that will definitely get you a lot more visibility. But another way that you can do it is with Search Engine Optimization, and that’s simply figuring out what keywords people use to search for your products and use those in your descriptions. Now there’s no kind of search engine search tool for Pinterest. However, you can use Google’s Keyword Tool to figure out what keywords people use to search for quilting patterns. 

Now Debbie specializes in patterns that are easy for beginners and you can see that if you go to her website and to her homepage. She’s got quilt designs here and everything is easy. A lot of simple techniques. And you can see that as you go through her website she uses a lot of the words easy, simple. So she focuses on things that are very simple for beginners. 

And so I’m going to go to the Google Keyword Tool here. And anyone can use this. Again, you don’t have to be a super geek to do this. You don’t have to be an SEO person to know how to do this. And so I’m going to end up at the Google Keyword Tool. And here are a couple ways that Debbie can do this. The first one is by putting in the URL of her website. And I clicked off of that so I’m going to go here again and go to her homepage. And I am going to copy this and paste it into this Google Keyword Tool right here where it says website. I’m going to paste Debbie’s website name, click on only show ideas that are closely related to this, because otherwise I get a lot of junk. And you want to click on search. And it’s automatically going to show you ad group ideas. I’m not interested in doing an ad, but I do want to see keyword ideas. 

Here are an awful lot. 79 different keyword ideas. We want to immediately hone in on the most popular one. And so we want to do local monthly searches. Local means the United States. And you can see here that there are over 2 million searches for things like quilt a quilt, quilts quilts quilts, things like that. But what I recommend for Debbie is that she really hone in on the type of patterns that she does, which is easy quilt, quilt for beginner, beginner quilt, simple quilt patterns. Those are the things that are going to get her the best opportunities for visibility for people who are targeted to her audience. She also does star quilts. You can see there’s a star quilt here that has low competition and high searches. 49,000 searches a month and low competition, which means not many other people are using these keywords. So that’s an excellent opportunity for Debbie. So what I would do is search for things that have high searches but low competition. And you can see here, y seams. People look for those things. And so those are all things. Debbie needs to go through here and look for things that have low search competition but high volume. And simple quilt blocks is something that has one of the highest search volumes. And quilt star. So those are the kinds of descriptions that Debbie needs to put into her Pinterest boards and descriptions. 

And so right here, this is called the Ashleigh pattern. But Debbie has an opportunity to actually call this something that will get her higher visibility. This is a star quilt block. And so she can put quilt star pattern in the description. She can add a lot more information here. That it’s the Ashleigh pattern, the price, very simple pattern. You can put an awful lot of information here in a Pinterest description. 

Let’s recap here the things that I’m recommending for Debbie. She has an excellent start already, but she definitely needs to add prices to her board and pin descriptions. She also needs to use keywords in her pin and board names. Add more photos for each pattern. And create a board for each pattern with additional photos. And I think all of those things are thing that will really help Debbie. Also, add a call-to-action for each pin saying click to see more photos and description. And you don’t want to do a hard sell on Pinterest, but these are things that people are looking for on Pinterest. And so by including those and separating them out from just quilts I love and putting it at the very top, I would recommend that Debbie put it in the top row. Her quilt boards. Or at least have them all together. She could do them on the second row, but just so they’re visible and so people don’t have to scroll down.

Oct 15

UPDATED: 5 Ways to Make Pinterest Profitable [INFOGRAPHIC]

By Maria Peagler

[UPDATED 2016] Pinterest doesn't generate sales, right?

You've probably heard that — because it can be difficult to trace sales back to Pinterest, you might have believed it.

The truth is, Pinterest can drive sales effectively, but the key to making that happen is all in how you use it. Pinterest is different from other networks, and you must adapt your marketing practices accordingly.

Small Business Pinterest Checklist

In this Pinterest Checklist infographic, I share five simple steps you should take to build a Pinterest following that will drive traffic and generate sales. Pinterest success is an ongoing process, so print this checklist and use it as a guideline for you as you develop your Pinterest presence:

pinterest-checklist

1. Complete Your Profile

Pinterest profiles are best kept short, so it's important for you to introduce yourself and your business clearly and briefly. In most cases, it's better to use a headshot than a logo, and it's important to give people a sense of your personal style.

2. Create Boards by Topic

Keeping your content organized on Pinterest is vital to maintaining a good reputation and keeping your audience happy. If your boards don't have a clear focus and are full of seemingly random content, people won't follow. Attract an audience with distinct boards and keep them engaged with content relevant to each specific board.

3. Quality, Branded Pins

Pinterest is a visual network, so Pinterest content needs to be visually-appealing. Pin content to attract the eye and get people interested. Optimize with keywords so people can find them and embed links so you can drive traffic to your website. Develop a unique style that your audience will immediately recognize as yours, and watermark your content so when others repin it or share it outside of Pinterest, the source will always remain clear.

4. Pin Content from Others

One of the biggest mistakes you can make on Pinterest is focusing entirely on your own products and content. Pinning content is the social currency of Pinterest, and the best form of engagement. Create boards for fun and inspiring content, and a board for images contributed by your clients.

5. Follow Etiquette

Every social network has its rules, official and unspoken, and Pinterest is no exception. The most important one to remember is to credit pins and make sure others also keep sources intact. Whenever you do come across something that violates Pinterest's rules, reach out to the pinner so they'll have an opportunity to fix it before it gets reported.

Recommended Resources

social media marketing in europe
Oct 14

What You Need to Know BEFORE You Do Social Media Marketing in Europe

By Benjamin Kepner

the-flags-of-the-european-union

 

What You Need to Know BEFORE You Do Social Media Marketing in Europe

A primer for U.S. brands on how to approach social media marketing in Europe. A guide to cultural differences, privacy concerns, corporate restrictions and more.

1. Mind the Gap

Europeans have fewer contacts in social networks because they are selective in whom they choose to interact with, and have a higher resistance to sharing, compared to Americans. Therefore, your campaigns must offer a higher incentive to share.  Europeans value their data privacy as a universal and individual right; only 31% of all U/S. companies restrict social networks compared to a whopping 60-80% of European companies.

2. Respect Cultural Values

Do extensive cultural research to determine formal and informal language differences, color sensitivity, and time of day, week and year norms.

  • Language barrier: How you say ‘you’ in languages like German, French, Spanish or Italian is critical. All of the languages mentioned have a formal and informal version of the word ‘you,’ which makes choosing your tone of voice very important. Observe how users are talking to the brand, then mirror their language.
  • Stricter time schedule: Between 2:30 and 5:30pm, Spain typically holds siesta, where businesses shut down.  In the Netherlands, it is rare for people to work after 6pm since family life is highly valued. Summer holidays begin June to August too, with most countries taking extended vacations or not working.
  • Color: Different hues carry cultural messages depending upon the country. For example, using orange in your cover photo could be great for a brand heavily concentrated in the Netherlands since it’s the color for the Dutch Royal Family, but it may not be as well received in other countries due to political reasons.

3.  Understand Platform Perceptions

When it comes to platforms of choice, the social media landscape in Europe is divided:

VK

VKontakte

Facebook

Eastern Europe still uses VKontakte , similar to Facebook, with a stronghold of users in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus accounting for more than 60 million active accounts.  Facebook is present here too, and its user base continues to grow in these countries, but the world’s favorite social network currently claims 12.4 million monthly active users across these three countries combined.

Facebook dominates in Western Europe, with 37 countries accounting for a total of 232.2 million active users – roughly 19% of the platform’s total global user base.  As with internet penetration, Iceland also leads the way with 70% of the country’s population using Facebook in the past month.  Malta puts in an impressive showing at 58%, with Scandinavian countries rounding out the rest of the top five.  European Facebook users account for the lowest share of fans in the world, following an average of 12 brands.  Europeans usually  interact with a brand only if they have a customer service issue and they see Facebook as a quicker way to be heard and get help.  Europeans also prefer to share a positive brand experience on social media rather than a negative one.

Twitter

Not every country embraces the use of Twitter. German celebrities do not use the channel as much as American ones, and the character count doesn’t always work with the average length of words in their language. Most Europeans also share only with people they know, so they aren’t as open to proactively engaging with brands on Twitter.  General advertising infrastructure isn’t as sophisticated outside of the U.S., and advertising revenues per user are significantly lower in Europe.

Whatsapp

Whatsapp

Twitter faces competition from local websites, mobile applications and services that provide real-time communications, like Whatsapp or Line. Spaniards love Whatsapp so much it’s now used as a verb here, “Whatsappeando.” JAJAJA.

Try mobile campaigns on Twitter, as that seems to be where most Europeans spend their time.

Spotify

Spotify was created in Europe, and according to Kevin Brown (Spotify’s European head of media relations), of the company’s 40 million users, 10 million are paying listeners. The service is also rapidly adding users in England, with over 1 million new active listeners.

spotify

Spotify

Use Spotify to your advantage by running contests or starting a collaborative playlist to give you a chance to interact with your customers and let them show off their musical tastes.

Bands, radio stations or concert venues can hold contests for fans to create a setlist for the tour and give away concert tickets to the winning playlist.  Spotify had a “Selfie” station at the Bilbao BBK Live Music Festival I attended to encourage you to share your concert pictures and have fans vote for the best ones on social media using hashtags.

Your store or restaurant could start a collaborative playlist for people to suggest songs to add to your background music. Feature a few new songs from the playlist every week. Join in with your customers’ music discovery. It’s a fun way to keep your business in the front of their minds.  It gives your brand more exposure by creating a memorable experience for your followers.

4. Study European History

From first-hand experience, I can tell you people are proud of their country’s history.  However, Western Europe is at least two years behind the U.S. in terms of social media adaptation.  Thought leaders like Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin and Tim Ferriss change the status quo with their ideas for social media innovation.  However, since they’re all American, Europeans seem quick to dismiss their ideas, claiming that they’ll work only in America.

Europe lacks role models to inspire among European countries due to cultural and language differences. Connect with them by learning their cultural history instead. Business owners need to immerse themselves in cultural education.

5. Get Mobile

An app or social media campaign tends to spread across its culture only, especially considering language barriers.  Mobile use in Europe is three times higher than America.  Learn to develop mobile apps or location-based social media marketing campaigns.  Try multilingual campaigns  and gauge performance.  Remember, 50% of Europe is bilingual and many regions in European countries speak three languages.

Finally, ensure you include multimedia as part of your strategy by including Pinterest and Instagram.

6. Learn from European Businesses

Alexandria Ekkelenkamp, Press officer of the European Union, says they use the Dandelion model – a hub-and-spoke model that can be particularly relevant to multinational brands “where companies act nearly autonomously from each other under a common brand.”  Brands can improve internal communication and the flow of information to better inform consumers’ interactions with brands.

Jochen van Drimmelen, KLM’s Online Reputation Manager, says KLM used a cancer victim social crisis unavailable upgrade problem and turned in into a positive alternative to satisfy the customer’s question.

Lilach Bullock of UK Sociable says, “When doing business in another European country, it’s important to do a little research beforehand. One of the most important things to remember is that every country is different from the next, and so you need different tactics for each one.”

Summary: Think Global, Act Local.

‘Glocalisation’ is a concept that European marketers, in particular, should understand their target markets (as seen on Hubspot). Being ‘glocal’ means creating a local adaptation of a global strategy by understanding local cultures.  Hiring a local and diverse staff can make your efforts in Europe a successful strategy as well.

Oct 10

What’s New in Social Media: 3rd Quarter Round-Up

By Admin Tester

A lot has changed in online marketing over the last 12 weeks — here’ s your go-to resource for all the new content (in addition to your classes) at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com for 3rd quarter 2014.  Bookmark this page so you can return to it when you need answers fast!

Growing Your Business

  1. How to Get More Sales from Your Website [WEBINAR EXCERPT]… http://bit.ly/1saBkFT
  2. Why Your Social Media Marketing Isn’t Generating Revenue… http://bit.ly/1Dwadbh
  3. How to Get More Sales from Your Website Webinar Replay & Resources… http://bit.ly/1wE3Uxs
  4. How to Rebrand Yourself and Launch a New Career … http://bit.ly/1wE30RM
  5. Online Training for Different Learning Styles: Social Media Training … http://bit.ly/1p2ZOt1
  6. The Learn Startup Approach to Education in America: Minimum Viable Education… http://bit.ly/1xIwdiG
  7. College Guide to Landing a Job… http://goo.gl/cSGgxQ

Online Marketing Strategy

  1. How to Create a Stock Photo Library [VIDEO]… http://bit.ly/1rpIhRj
  2. The One Thing You Should Do on Social Media Every Day… http://bit.ly/1BJartz
  3. New Cheat Sheets in Your Swipe File… http://goo.gl/1MmZOK
  4. What to Look for in Online Social Media Training… http://goo.gl/TwNfCe
  5. How to Write a Blog Post in 10 Minutes Flat… http://goo.gl/ASRgDi
  6. Learn How to Build Your Own Stock Photo Library Using Your iPhone… http://goo.gl/1S6BY9
  7. Outsourcing Your Social Media Marketing Webinar Replay & Resources… http://goo.gl/VSws0E
  8. This Surprising Social Network Outperforms All Others… http://goo.gl/vlSrVq
  9. How to Brand & Watermark Your Images [VIDEO]*… http://goo.gl/RPLoQv
  10. The State of Social Media for Small Business… http://goo.gl/CQsfMa

Facebook

  1. How Facebook Just Made Your Life Easier … http://bit.ly/1sbeE8k
  2. How Often Should I Post to Facebook in 2014?… http://goo.gl/JKzeiD
  3. How to Get Double Duty from Every Facebook Post… http://goo.gl/O2vc4R
  4. HUGE Facebook News: Google Search Now Links to FB Posts Using Hashtags… http://goo.gl/1OmYJc
  5. What Facebook ISN’T Telling You About Its Latest Business Page Redesign… http://goo.gl/RE5ksc
  6. Member Exclusive: How to Create a Facebook Timeline with a Clickable Button… http://goo.gl/298g7m
  7. Facebook 2014 Changes — What You Need to Know (INFOGRAPHIC) … http://goo.gl/yA18p8
  8. Website Images Won’t Appear on Facebook Post Links… http://goo.gl/EykVJ2
  9. How to Find Which Apps You Have Installed on Facebook… http://goo.gl/8zD7A7
  10. Monthly Coaching Video Clip: How to EASILY Increase Your Facebook Post Reach… http://goo.gl/3CUc3o

Instagram

Instagram Marketing Infographic… http://bit.ly/Zdc2dC

Google

Google+ Image Size Cheat Sheet… http://bit.ly/WZoqfw

Twitter

Twitter Image Size Cheat Sheet… http://goo.gl/wrUI4T

Pinterest

Pinterest Contest Swipe File… http://goo.gl/BjJuaE

Best of the Best

  1. 2014′s Best Social Media Marketing Infographics… http://goo.gl/PZFaZ0
  2. Most Popular Articles from the First Half of 2014… http://goo.gl/Fg32VL
  3. Our Top Presentations — Get ‘Em Here!… http://goo.gl/x5uFMu

Sep 17

SocialMediaOnlineClasses.com Most Popular Infographics from First Half of 2014

By Janice Deleon

Infographics are some of the most popular resources we offer here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com.  Here are member favorites from the first half of 2014:

Social Media for Local Business

How do you decide where to spend your time marketing your local business?
So many social networks and marketing options can be overwhelming. How can you ensure you’re focusing on tactics yielding the most return on investment (ROI) for your local business? Rely on the Social Media for Local Business infographic.  It reveals the eight most powerful social marketing platforms for local businesses; use it as a menu to pick and choose the ones the suit your brand.

social media for local business

State of Social Media for Small Business

We posed questions to Socialmediaonlineclasses.com members (almost 300 of them!) to take the pulse of social media for small business in 2014.  Some results were expected, while others were shocking.  All are shown in the infographic below.  (Following the infographic is a brief explanation of the finding for each question)

state of social media for small business

Facebook Marketing Infographic 2014 Edition

Get your Facebook marketing infographic. Quickly tap into 1 billion customers on the world’s largest social network. The infographic helps you get better results from Facebook in 2014.

College Guide to Landing a Job

Learn how to land your dream job earning double what your peers are in the same industry. Learn from Petra, an Socialmediaonlineclasses.com member who found out the hard way: “Flunked the job interview for a dream job because I don’t have social media skills. Gonna be smarter next time!” — P. Keasberry, Socialmediaonlineclasses.com member

College Guide to Landing a Job

WordPress Build Your Website in an Hour

Learn how to create your own WordPress website (or blog) in one hour.  The goal isn’t for you to race through creating your own website, but for you to learn that you can build a credible & professional website in an afternoon.

WordPress Build Your Website in an Hour

Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn Networking

How can you make sure you’re profiting from their latest changes to build a profitable network?  Study the Ultimate Guide to Profitable LinkedIn Networking infographic.  It outlines 64 powerful tactics in eight categories; use it as a menu to pick and choose the ones the suit you & your business.

Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn Networking

UPGRADE TO GET EVERY CLASS NOW

 

 

The Learn Startup Approach to Education in America
Sep 10

The Lean Startup Approach to Education & Employment in America

By Maria Peagler

The Learn Startup Approach to Education in America

Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor under the Clinton administration, posted a commentary on his tumblr blog last week about American college graduates being over-educated and under-employed:

“Too often in modern America, we equate “equal opportunity” with an opportunity to get a four-year liberal arts degree. It should mean an opportunity to learn what’s necessary to get a good job.”

Reich then continues to recommend two-year degrees at vocational schools as a common-sense approach to securing a top job that opens the door the middle class in America, without the huge debt.

The Lean Startup Approach to Education

America is widely heralded as the global hotbed of innovation using the Lean Startup method pioneered by Eric Reis: almost every major social media platform originated here, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and more.

But where is the lean startup approach to education?  If the minimum viable product (MVP) is necessary for a lean approach to business, shouldn’t a minimum viable education (MVE) be the wise approach to a career, especially in an employment landscape littered with college grads saddled with college loan debt?

How relevant will your four-year degree be in ten years, when your job no longer exists? Middle-aged journalists who once had flourishing careers at The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal are out of work because their industry was disrupted by digital alternatives.

Isn’t a better approach to get the MVE for your first career, and then pivot your education as your career and your industry evolve?

Don’t get me wrong:  I’m a lifelong learner, and I got a four-year degree when it was AFFORDABLE.  I paid my entire way through college, getting Pell Grants, student loans, and juggling three jobs.

My family lived below the poverty line, and I was able to get a degree from one of the top journalism colleges in the country. But I didn’t graduate with a burden of enormous college loan debt.

Since then, I have NEVER once considered going back to a university to further my education.  Why?

Because there are so many better alternatives to learning that are quicker, more up-to-date, and less expensive.

Minimum Viable Education Resources

While public and private universities in American have raised tuition every year far above the inflation rate, a more sane approach to education has been burgeoning:  online learning.

Lynda.com, Skillshare, TeamTreehouse, and yes, here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com, you can get a great education in the digital sector.  Here’s a rundown of what each offers:

Learn Software Applications with Lynda.com

Pros: Classes on almost every major software application, including current and previous releases.  Lynda’s classes are a wonderful fit for creative professionals, as they offer courses on photography, animation, and other creative careers.  They’re also best for apps  that have new releases, like Windows 11 or Photoshop CC 2014, as they debut a new class with each new release.

Cons:  For social media platforms, Lynda’s classes are unable to keep up with the constant pace of changes.  They also do not offer a forum or access to instructors when you have questions.

Learn Creative Business Skills with Skillshare.com

Pros:  Classes on business, design, fashion, photography, film music, and technology.  I’ve taken Skillshare classes, and they’re a “light” approach to online learning, with an average of three lessons for each class.  They offer a multi-media curriculum and often curate their content from other sources.

Cons:  Available of instructors to offer feedback to students is inconsistent: some are great, others never show up. But the low price-point of their classes makes it worth it to try out and see what you’ll learn.  Some instructors are not great teachers, but are great practitioners, so you often need to be patient through long videos that could be shorter.

Learn Web Development with TeamTreehouse.com

Pros: Classes on web development that include Sass, Ruby on Rails, Javascript, WordPress, Android app development, PHP, HTML, business skills and more. They offer a great variety of classes, an online forum with monthly challenges, all for a low price point.

Cons: I was pleasantly surprised by TeamTreehouse.  Their founder comes from an affiliate marketing and vitamin business background, and like so many others in the last five years, entered the online training arena when it became possible using lean startup technologies.  While I have not taken a class from Treehouse (their shortened name), an SMOC intern has, and she was quite pleased with the learning platform.  They offer a free trial, which I would definitely take and see if you can get feedback or help when working on a coding project.

Learn Social Media with Socialmediaonlineclasses.com

Pros: Classes on every major social network and search engine optimization, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, Slideshare, WordPress, YouTube, and more.  Offers a forum for questions, 1:1 coaching with its founder, as well as additional resources like infographics, bonus webinars, and case studies, all for a low price point.

Cons:  Students get a certificate of completion when they finish all lessons in a class; no testing or exams are necessary. Certification is from Socialmediaonlineclasses.com, not a third-party such as the American Council on Education (ACE), as that would triple the cost of classes here. Don’t offer classes on smaller social networks like Tumblr, Reddit, Delicious, or Digg.

Get a Digital Education for Less Than One Year’s Tuition at a University

You could take classes from every provider I’ve listed here for less than one year’s tuition at a public university.  You’d have a well-rounded  education from the recognized providers in photography, animation, Photoshop, Adobe Creative Suite, logo design, music production, web and app development and social media.

Each provider offers a free trial so you can take a class and see if it’s a good fit.  When’s the last time a university offered that?

You could have an impressive collection of skills for your resume, but how would you get the experience every employer wants?

Become an intern, an apprentice for a professional you admire, or volunteer your time for a non-profit who can sorely use your skills.  You get practical experience for your portfolio and build important professional relationships that will help you find a well-paying job in your new industry.

So yes, Robert Reich, there is a better way.  All made here in America, available for a global audience.

 

How to generate content in 10 minutes flat
Sep 05

How to Write a Blog Post in 10 Minutes Flat: Content Generation in the Real World

By Maria Peagler

Our Content Marketing Made Simple bonus webinar is a favorite with our members here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com. I generate a LOT of content here:  what you see in this blog is only about 10% of it.  Our members get access to our classes, infographics, webinars and way more.

How do I do it as a busy entrepreneur, wife, and mom?  I fit my business into my life.  I actively look for snippets of time I can use to work on content while I’m doing something else as well.

Here’s a brief look at the tactics I’ve developed to create cornerstone content in just 10 minutes.   Timestamps & transcript are below the video:

00:15:  10-Minute Content – how we do it

00:25:  Dictate Content (I do this while walking on my treadmill desk and in carpool line!)

01:15:   My Favorite App for Dictating Content

01:26:  How I Dictate Content — Step-by-Step

02:59:  How to Get Content from the C-Suite Easily

03:40:  Create Content Using Templates (tip from when I managed a group of writers)

04:16:  Use Templates for Blog Posts, Images, Slide Decks, Audio, & Video

05:30:  Repurpose Your Best Content

05:45:  Examples of How We Repurpose Content Here at Socialmediaonlineclasses.com

Transcript

Now I know you’re all wondering about number 3, 10 Minute Content. Is it really possible or is it a gimmick? Well, ladies and gentlemen, it is possible and here’s how. You can dictate your content into your smartphone. I do this frequently. I don’t do it every time, but, I have set up for myself a treadmill desk and I do it so that I can get my exercise in so I’m not sitting in front of a computer all the time and I also do it sometimes in carpool line. You know, I’m sitting in carpool waiting to pick up my kids, you know, I’m not talking on the phone but I am talking into my phone and I’m going to show you how you too can do this.

You can dictate into your smartphone using an app. Now, there are several apps that you can use for this. I use Evernote, which I’m sure you’ve heard of, it’s a wildly popular note taking app, but you can also use dictation apps like Dragon Dictation, there are lots of apps that you can use and here’s how you do it. In Evernote, when I’m creating a new note, it has the cursor right here and it’s ready for me to type on my smartphone. Now, I’ve got my smartphone here and I’m doing it this way. Instead of typing it, I click on this microphone button here and I talk into my smartphone and Evernote will take 30 seconds of dictation and transcribe it into text. Now, if you’re doing this in a relatively quiet room it does an excellent job, I’m actually amazed at how well it does. If you’re in a loud room, not so much, but you can dictate 30 seconds of content at a time and then at the end of that 30 seconds, it will paste that content in, you just click on that microphone again, and you dictate your next 30 seconds of content and by doing that you have saved yourself a ton of time typing in a blog post or a white paper or a PowerPoint presentation and then, you can copy and paste this into WordPress or Word or whatever it is that you are using to create your content. You can even email this to yourself. So that’s one way of creating 10 minute content is by dictating it into your smartphone.

Let me also tell you, if you are a small business owner or if you are someone who is in a small business who is tasked with doing social media and it’s really hard to get your CEO’s time, this is a way that you can do this. Go to lunch, you know, when you’re in the car on the way to a meeting, you know, something like that, interview the CEO, you know, get him or her to talk, you know, do an interview, do it by phone there are actually phone apps that you can use, that I’ve used, to do interviews and then you can have that transcribed. You know, doing something orally is actually a really quick way to generate content for people who are just super busy.

The second way that you can create 10 minute content is to use templates. Now, I can tell you that we did this a lot when I was at ExecuTrain(?) and I was managing a team of about seven technical writers. We didn’t create anything from scratch. We did everything from a template and it saved so much time and I still do it now. It helps not only maintain quality and consistency if you have multiple people generating your content, it also saves a lot of time. You can have a template for any type of content that you create. My blog posts, many of them I use, I create starting with a template, especially the ones that are announcing my bonus webinars, that’s the same blog post every time, I just change out the content and the image for the webinar. All of my infographics and checklists I start with a template. I will take a template then fill in the new content and change the colors. Same thing with multimedia, this presentation came from a template. I didn’t even create the template, I purchased it and somebody else did the design and I filled it in. You can do the same thing with videos, you can get a video intro for your business, you can get music for your podcast, and use those over and over again. That helps with your branding and it also cuts down on the amount of time that it takes for you to create that content.

Thirdly, and finally, the last thing that you can do to generate 10 minute content is to repurpose your best content and I’m going to give you some examples of this. Whenever I do a bonus webinar, like this one, you get this content in several forms. It probably started out as an article, but you’ll get the video replay, you get an audio file, and the audio file doesn’t take me any time to do. When I’m editing the video, all I do is save this as an audio file and it takes one minute to do. That does not take a long time. Then I also repurpose the content in an infographic or checklist. So you can take your content, in the way that’s easiest for you to create it and then outsource it or delegate it to a staff member to have them repurpose it into whatever content is best for your audience. If you’re a business to business brand then you would look at doing a white paper or a PowerPoint presentation. If you’re a business to consumer brand, you would look at doing images, possibly some infographics or a video.