How Content Curation (and Their Tools) Can Benefit Non-Profits

what is content curation

What is Content Curation

In a perfect world, you’d have all the time in the world to create compelling and informative content that lets audiences know who you are and what you’re passionate about. But, as we know, running a business takes time and energy and producing original content takes time that you might not always have.

Fortunately, you don’t have to start from scratch. Not only is it a good practice to re-purpose your content (which will be featured in a later post), you can also post good quality content from others. That’s the essence of content curation.

What is Content Curation?

How Does Content Curation Work

How does Content Curation Work

Basically, content curation is the process of sharing valuable content that resonates with your audience. Although there’s no real hard and fast rule regarding how much content curation you need to do, many organizations abide by the 80-20 rule; 80% content curation and 20% original content.

The content you curate can definitely be used in other parts of your content marketing strategy. You can share the content via social media but also re-purpose it through summaries in your e-newsletters and blog posts. You could also save curated stories and turn them into a monthly round-up of stories to send your audiences.

Here are some ways on how content curation can benefit your non-profit organization

Benefits of Content Curation

Benefits of Content Curation

Benefits of Content Curation

Establishes Your Organization as an Authority & Lends Credibility

Sharing external content positions your non-profit as a reliable source of information on what’s going on in the industry at large. When the content you curate is specifically relevant to your audience, it shows that you’re on top of the conversations happening around you and that you’re engaging in a dialogue with the industry’s most influential organizations.

Builds Goodwill

Being willing to engage with other industry experts, influencers and fellow colleagues in non-profit organizations not only expands your reach with new audiences but shows that you’re open to mutual collaboration. You’re showing your own audiences that you’re committed to providing them with the best content, whether it was written by your organization or another one.

Gives the Audience What They’re Asking For

Sharing more helpful information, even when you don’t necessarily have the time to write the information yourself, shows that you’re giving your audience what they asked for. Content curation lets you share more content with your audience-and provide them with more benefits-than you’d otherwise be able to. So win-win all around.

Content Curation in Action

How to curate content

How to curate content

Content curation isn’t just about scheduling content to be shared on social media. It’s about framing the information in such a way that audiences still receive your input.

-You can summarize the main points of the content
-Give it some context so audiences know why it’s important
– Add your own opinion about the content & your organization’s perspective about why this is valuable.

This section will focus on inexpensive and/or free to use content curation tools that will help you find the right content for your audience.

Get Started with Feedly

Feedly’s Smart Reader allows you to organize your sources into easy-to-read feeds, which includes blogs, media publications such as Business Week and even YouTube channels.

You can even monitor news about your organization and the industry by integrating Google Alerts and searching for specific articles inside Feedly. Any relevant articles you find, say on non-profit fundraising, can be saved and read at a later date and you can easily schedule them through Hootsuite to be shared via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email and more.

You’ll also be able to create shared feeds & boards with colleagues in your organization to curate, comment and prioritize specific articles to place into your content marketing strategy.

The free version allows you to have up to 100 sources of information, 3 feeds and 3 boards for both mobile and desktop. If you choose pro for $5.41/month, you’ll have access to unlimited sources, feeds, boards and the ability to integrate Google Alerts, share to social media and save to Evernote and OneNote.

Delve into ContentGems

A content discovery engine, ContentGems scans hundreds of thousands of articles on a daily basis. Once you sign up for an account, you can monitor their massive database of publications and blogs for relevant content. You can filter search results based on keywords, social signals and other advanced filter settings. Based on your sources and filters, you’ll receive a comprehensive stream of dynamic and timely content that you can plug into just about anything such as e-newsletters, your blog/website and social media.

The free option allows for 1 content search with 20 RSS feeds, a weekly e-mail digest, daily content suggestions and the ability to add up to 10 keywords to search queries.

Generate Your Own Curated Magazine with Flipboard

This mobile app makes it easy for you to curate content into a beautifully designed digital magazine. Once you get the app, you can ‘flip’ any article, blog post, photo or other media via a browser bookmarklet. The app automatically creates stunning layouts with all the content that look and feel like a professional designed digital magazine.

Create Custom Content Pages with Scoop.It

You can use Scoop.It’s active community to search for content by keyword, share curated content directly to your social channels and embed what you find on your website. The website will also display your curated content into elegant, magazine styled layouts that you can send out as e-newsletters.

For the individual plans, the free version allows you to create 1 personalized content hub/page, 1 keyword group per topic page and attach 2 social accounts to share the content on. The system will give you 10 scoops/day with basic content filtering. The pro version at $11/month allows you to create 5 content pages with 5 keyword groups per page, unlimited scoops and the ability to attach 5 social accounts. You’ll also be able to customize each page, schedule posts and check the analytics for each page.

Stay Organized with List.ly

If you love sorting information into lists and keeping content organized, you’ll love List.ly. You can gather information into useful lists which your readers can vote on, helping you to continually curate great content that audiences want to read. Whether you sign in on the website or use the iOS app, each list is photo rich and visually stunning. You can easily embed the list on your blog (via the WordPress plugin) and share it via social media.

Promote Content with Paper.li

Chances are you’ve probably seen Paper.li online, especially on Twitter. This free service is your secret weapon for content curation-it automatically helps you discover relevant content, curates it into an online newspaper and promotes the paper across the web. Best of all, it only takes a few minutes of your time on a daily basis.

The free account allows you to aggregate content from 10 RSS or social media sources, it will host your curated online newspaper and share it automatically via Twitter.

The pro account for $9 USD/month has everything the free account has but allows you to aggregate content from 25 sources and it shares your top article and web newspaper on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, including business pages. You’ll also be able to drive traffic to your site with a customer call-to-action overlay, remove ads, install custom widgets, videos and photos inside the paper, obtain subscribers and more.

For more marketing tools for non-profits, subscribe here and also be sure to subscribe to In Retrospect Writing Services for strategic marketing, public relations and social media expertise

 

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Affordable Image Marketing Tools to Help Non-Profits Create Stunning Visuals

When you’re working on promoting your next fundraising event or a thank you initiative to long-time donors, you want to add a visual punch in your campaigns, to make it more exciting.

It’s been proven time and time again that people are more likely to engage with posts that contain photos and/or videos because the visual aspect makes the post more interesting to read. But if you’re on a budget, it can be tough to justify paying for platforms like Photoshop, especially if you don’t use it frequently and/or don’t have a graphic designer in house.

That’s why I’m sharing some of the most popular inexpensive and/or free marketing tools to help non-profits easily create stunning visuals to attract donors, engage fans and make events and campaigns more memorable.

 

Canva For Non-Profits

By far one of the most popular visual tools online today, Canva has a free premium version available for non-profits. You’ll be able to create any image, from infographics, e-books and Facebook ads to email headers and you don’t need to be a graphic designer to use it. It’s the intuitive visual platform even novices can use with an extensive selection of stock photos and other elements available for $1 each. You’ll also be able to upload your own logos and images to the site and incorporate them into your own designs. There are templates available if you’re looking for something more structured and several photo enhancing tools for any touch-ups you need.

Crello

Another popular option that’s free to sign up, Crello has over 65 million free stock images and over 10,000 free design templates. While there are some advanced design elements for $1/each, anyone can sign up and get started on the pre-loaded templates right away. They have designs for print, social media, animations, digital ads and just about anything you can think of that will work for non-profit events, e-newsletters and blogs. The inspiration community page with ideas from members will definitely get the creativity flowing.

Animoto

An affordable platform you can use to easily turn photos, graphics, and video clips into animated video slideshows, Animoto starts with a free two week trial with the paid version starting at $13/month. The basic package gives you over 700+ styles and 500 music tracks to choose from, for each video you create. It’s a platform that works to create great short form videos for Facebook and Instagram as it can easily convert the slideshow to the square format. You can add any images, clips and text you see fit, save it and share it to your respective platforms.

Boomerang from Instagram

You may have tried Boomerang by now, but in case you haven’t, you can use it to create mini-videos that will play a short burst of photos forwards and backwards. It’s a quick, free and quirky way to create a fun visual of a great fundraising event that will be undoubtedly catch the eye of fans and followers. You also have the flexibility to share it on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, not just directly inside Instagram.

Pablo by Buffer

Pablo by Buffer

Pablo by Buffer

Buffer, a well-known social media platform recently released Pablo, a graphic design tool specifically for social media. There is a selection of pre-uploaded photos and text overlays for your images to supplement any Facebook posts and Twitter status updates your organization may be posting. It’s also free to use so you don’t have to pay a fee to edit your photos or share them via social media to platforms such as Instagram as well as Facebook and Twitter.

PhotoPin

PhotoPin Stock Image Site

PhotoPin Image Site

This is a great search engine for images on Flickr that are marked under the Creative Commons license, which lets you use the photos for commercial and non-commercial use for free, as long as credit is given to the creator. Search results can be easily filtered and each image comes in a variety of downloadable sizes and contains the info how you can give the creator credit.

Infogr.am

This platform allows you to publish charts and infographics through a variety of templates. You’ll be able to add charts, maps, videos, images and anything else you and share it with the one-click share button or embed it into your blog. With the free plan, you’re given access to 37+ interactive charts, 13 map types and the ability to import data, run up to 10 projects with 3 pages/project. If you move up to the pro plan for $19/month, that expands to 500+ map types, 100 projects, 10 pages/project, privacy control and the ability to download HD images, gain access to 1 million images & icons, premium templates and live analytical data.

Lumen5

Lumen5 turns your blog posts, articles and any other long form content into a video. Upload the text into the platform, choose some photos and music to go with the text and then you can share it directly to Facebook or upload it to share wherever you like. The free version allows you to create unlimited videos and upload your own logo and photos for the videos you create. It also gives you access to 10,000,000+ free media files. For the pro account at $49/month, you’ll get all that plus the ability to upload your own watermark and outro with square videos, no credit scene and Lumen5 branding

Subscribe here for more marketing tips & fundraising ideas for non-profits, including cost-effective online fundraising ideas and creative & outside-the-box event ideas. Check back here often for more marketing strategies, social media tips and insights into PR.

Announcing New Service: Ghostwriting

What is Ghostwriting

Ghostwriting 101

 

I’m thrilled to announce that I’m expanding my writing services (which include copywriting, freelance writing (such as articles, ebooks & white papers) & blogging) to include ghostwriting! So what is ghostwriting? It’s basically the practice of having a writer create custom content for you but without their byline. So you have them create a novel, an article or a blog post but the name on the front and/or byline is your business’s name.

If you’re looking to have an article, blog post, e-book or other piece of content ghostwritten, contact me for my packages and rates!

 

What is Brand Journalism?

What is brand journalism?

What is Brand Journalism

 

Whether it’s a non-profit organization or a start-up, nearly everyone has a blog because they want to share important news on services/products and events with their audience.

Other companies, however, are starting to do more. On top of generating brand awareness and turning leads into paying customers through blogging, some companies believe they need to fill in the gaps left behind by traditional media.

Gaps due to the fact that traditional media is overwhelmed due to a lack of resources. As of 2010, there are officially 4.6 PR professionals for every journalist. Consequently, many companies are hiring journalists to build media operations in-house. Instead of waiting for media to cover stories, brands are generating their own stories and becoming their own journalists, hence brand journalism.

 

How to Encourage a Brand Journalism Program in Your Company

What makes a brand journalism program

How to create a compelling brand journalism program

Changing the culture as far as marketing goes can be daunting, but not impossible. PR & marketing teams play pivotal roles in educating the company’s senior management about the concept and best practices in order to get the approval from the top down.

Pick a team member to compile examples of brand journalism success such as case studies, white papers, social media and websites. Start slowly with one story and once the initial project has seen positive results, it’ll be much easier to sell senior executives on creating a brand journalism program.

Effective Brand Journalism=Strong Storytelling

Building a successful brand journalism program comes down to the strong stories that you develop. One of the most effective ways to help create strong stories is to adopt a ‘newsroom mentality’ among your media team. Your team of marketing, PR and traditional journalists sit down and have pitch meetings, develop editorial calendars and regular ‘beats’ or areas of coverage are assigned. Even if you have a small team or work for a non-profit organization, you can still manage a brand journalism program.

 

Not all Stories Make Great Brand Journalism

Elements that make a really good story

What makes a strong story?

 

Just like in traditional journalism, your team needs an ongoing selection of compelling stories to drive buzz for your brand, but not every story will fit the brand journalism guidelines. Criteria is as follows:

-Focus on the audience (Always consider what they care about and how they’ll benefit).

-Find a voice by featuring a real person who tells the story. Having someone that the audience can relate to makes the story more compelling. Some great examples would be having community leaders share their perspectives, business leaders share their experiences and notable influencers to give their expertise. Remember that the person audiences connect to will rarely be your company’s top executives or media spokesperson.

-Tying your content to larger big picture issues and/or statistics from well-respected organizations can help to give your content some creditability and make it more newsworthy

-Keep your message simple. Do away with any corporate jargon and use plain language where possible to make sure you audience understands what you’re talking about

-Add visuals. As audiences naturally gravitate to visuals, make sure to include photos, videos, slideshows, infographics and any other visuals you can think of to raise engagement levels with your content

-Un-brand your content. This means removing all branding that doesn’t fit seamlessly into the content. In other words, your company name may not appear in the headline as it does in a typical news release. It’s much more likely to be mentioned in affiliation with your expert who features in the story. Keep any and all branding subtle

Create content with your audience in mind, with a simple message that‘s visually stunning and allow the real people in your organization to tell their stories, without putting the company brand front and center.

 

Getting Your Brand Journalism Program Out There

 

How to Pitch a Strong Story

Story Pitching

Distributing brand journalism content starts much the same way it would with traditional media relations: you find the right journalists, build those relationships and share the stories. The difference between brand journalism and traditional media relations is all about attitude; it’s less about ‘story pitching’ as it is ‘content sharing’. Building strong relationships with journalists who trust you means that they will view your brand journalism program as a source of valuable content, rather than just another PR campaign.

When you distribute brand journalism content, make sure that it’s easily accessible to the journalists you’re sending it to. Make the content easily downloadable, the photos & videos easy to save and brand elements (if relevant) such as high resolution logos easily available. You want to make it as easy as possible for journalists to share your content through social media, websites and alike, increasing the chance of you growing your own audience.

When it comes to getting your brand journalism content out there through your company channels, it’s important to keep each platform’s audience in mind. Best practices include re-purposing said content for several different social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter by shortening it or making it into infographic. Doing this helps to amplify your message across platforms and increases ROI.

Sometimes, companies choose to create separate website hubs to act as news media sites to host their brand journalism content as well.

However you choose to distribute your brand journalism content, developing such a program will allow you to deliver buzz for your brand, amplify messages you create and increase ROI-without relying on the constraints of traditional media.

Stay tuned for more informative posts and infographics on brand journalism, thought leadership, content marketing, social media and everything having to do with PR and marketing.

How to Write High Converting Emails

After sending out an email newsletter promoting an event, have you been noticing a lower click through rate and social media shares, compared to the previous campaign?

Has event attendance and media coverage also gone down and you’re stuck on how to fix it

Well, there’s a few important elements that you have to remember in order to fix a situation like this. If you get these things right, you’ll see increases in:

  • Email Open Rates
  • Clickthrough Rates
  • Event Attendance

The Most Important Tip to Remember

In order to write high-converting emails, you have to focus what you want each element such as the subject line, the content and the call-to-action TO DO.

Decide on what you want each email element to do before proceeding with the campaign. That way, you’re not muddying the campaign’s intent and confusing your customers.

The role of the email subject line

The subject line has only ONE JOB: to sell people on opening & reading your email. The goal is to get people to actually open the email to READ more about your event, product or service.

Keep the subject lines short (around 10 words, if possible) and compelling by letting audiences know right away what the email is about. If the subject line is too long, it will get cut off when prospective attendees view the email on mobile. If it’s about a gala fundraiser, mention the fundraiser in the subject line. If it’s about a networking event with prizes, mention that.

Avoid putting your call-to-action in your subject line such as Call now, buy now, click here or act fast, Using terms like these in your subject line along with words such as ‘purchase’, ‘free’, ‘discount’, ‘best’, ‘guarantee’ or ‘urgent’ will turn off prospective customers because they feel like they’re being pushed to buy and many of these words will also cause your campaign to go directly into the Junk Mail folder.

Make sure you also A/B test your email subject lines before sending out the actual campaign to see which version of your subject line is more popular with your contact list.

Create engaging content

Audiences respond best to engaging, interactive content. Incorporate images, videos, infographics and slideshows into your content where appropriate to help promote events, services and new initiatives. Make sure you diversify the content too, sending a mix of visual graphics and original/curated content to keep things interesting.

Also, personalize your e-newsletters by making sure to include the name of the person you’re sending the email to, showing prospective customers that you know who they are and care about their attendance at your event.

 

Make your calls-to-action stand out

Don’t wait until the closing paragraph of your email campaign to display your CTA. Making your CTV stand out with a button, bright colors and placing it in more than one location in your e-newsletter will make it easy for subscribers to purchase tickets, download an e-book or donate funds to your cause.

Make sure your CTAs are also direct and to the point on what you want subscribers to do and make sure you focus on ONE action. Adding CTAs that tell customers to do more than one action will confuse them and dilute its effectiveness.

Subscribe here for more information on email marketing templates, content marketing and public relations!

 

 

 

 

Top Eight Inspirational Ad Campaigns

nike-together

As a marketing communications professional, my first exposure to the world of advertising, public relations and social media was actually through a Nike campaign some 20 years ago. This particular campaign inspired me, pushed me to be better and forced me, even at a young age, to keep going even in the face of failure. Maybe it’s also partially responsible for my brand loyalty to Nike all these years.

Years later, the message behind this campaign continues to inspire me and it’s a message that I reach for when times are tough, when I get low and there doesn’t seem to be a way out. It inspires me so much that I even analyzed it in an academic paper.  As a professional storyteller for clients in film, food and tourism, helping them translate their stories for an array of mediums (whether it’s in PR, social media or a blog/print piece); I’ve always felt that a narrative doesn’t have to be long in order to be inspirational. Ad campaigns can go beyond selling something to actually make you feel something and messages also doesn’t have to come from a book, a film or a TV series in order be real, raw and realistic.

Without further ado, I’m going to share some of the most inspirational ad campaigns that have pushed me to be better and continue to fight through adversity and move forward in the face of failure.

1.Nike-“Failure” (1997)

Though far from the first Michael Jordan led Nike campaign I’d seen growing up, it was definitely the first of many Nike campaigns that struck a chord with me. As he’s walking into the Chicago Bulls locker room, one of the greatest basketball players of all time ruminates on all the times he’d messed up, missed a shot or the games he’s lost-and how it forces him to continue to push himself to be better. If there was one message that I continue to carry with me from this campaign, is that failure isn’t the end and that you can-and should-use it to as motivation to learn from your mistakes and move forward. Still a campaign I return 20-some odd years later whenever things are tough and I need inspiration.

2. Nike-“Maybe It’s My Fault” (2008)

Another Michael Jordan campaign that forces you to stand up and pay attention; this was the campaign formed the basis of the academic paper I mentioned earlier. With Michael providing the voiceover, the ad cycles through several significant locations and areas from his life, from his old gym and the locker room at UNC, to the trophies and accolades in the Chicago Bulls locker room. In the voiceover, the man himself talks about how peoples’ misconceptions about his career and his skill set allowed them to make excuses for themselves. At the end of the ad, he forces them to stand up and listen and to stop using him as an excuse for why they can’t play the game of basketball. The message here is simple: just because he was able to do what he was able to do doesn’t mean you can’t do the same. Stop putting him up on a pedestal that you can never reach and start working hard to get to where you want to go.

3. Converse-“Love Letter to Basketball” (2007)

Less of a campaign and more of a personal reflection that inspired a campaign for Converse, this was the video I remember showing a co-worker (herself a basketball player who had to stop playing due to chronic injuries) 7 years ago; which reduced her into a flood of tears. Written by the amazingly talented Dwyane Wade (one of the best currently active players in the NBA today) while he was still endorsed by Converse, it’s an inspirational piece about the struggles any athlete faces in the sport they love. When you struggle with something you love, it can be disheartening, it can beat you down, wear you out and cause you to want to give up. It’s a powerful letter filled with hope that things can get better if you persevere in what you love and don’t allow the cycle of negativity to suck you under.

4. Nike-“Together” (2014)

Are you perhaps sensing a theme in the types of campaigns I find inspirational? Even as a non-Cleveland Cavaliers fan and a casual fan of LeBron James, this campaign continues to cause me to choke up every time I see it. Why? It’s like the tagline says “This time it’s bigger than basketball,” and it was. This campaign was rallying battle cry for the city of Cleveland and it showed. This shared community, this shared love for sport brought out the loyalty, the love and the best out of the citizens of Cleveland. Say what you want about LeBron’s career, his attitude regarding some aspects of celebrity and the controversial move he made to leave Cleveland in the first place, but the man is a leader-and one who is great at rallying people around him.  And the payoff of this? Cleveland won their first-ever NBA championship two seasons later. I’d say the tears LeBron shed were well warranted.

5.Smarties-“Duets” (2008)

An interesting campaign that doesn’t show its hand on what product they’re promoting until the very end, this older Smarties campaign features several Canadian singers in a duet with one another in several different locations from a church and skate park to a city bus. Each pair features a singer with another musician playing an instrument, whether it’s a beatboxer, guitarist or saxophonist. Each one sings a variation of lyrics off of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People”, substituting the colors for occupations before ending with a flourish on the line “I am everyday people.” While this wasn’t a well-known Smarties campaign around the world or even in Canada at the time, there’s something about seeing people from all different cultures and ethnic backgrounds, singing the lyrics of a song that promotes inclusiveness and acceptance of diversity, especially in the face of today’s many issues surrounding racism and prejudice.

6. Chrysler-“Imported From Detroit (Super Bowl 2011)

While not a huge car fan by any means, this campaign during the Super Bowl in 2011 caught my eye because of the underlying implications. At the time, Detroit was still reeling from the 2008 recession, hit incredibly hard economically with houses foreclosing left, right and center and several auto makers had to be bailed out by the US government. Eminem, Detroit’s prodigal son, was also experiencing a major comeback in his career, having released the great album Recovery, a few months previously. What this campaign symbolizes to me is the revitalization of Detroit, the auto industry and indeed, Eminem’s career. It’s that blue-collar work ethic and the refusal to ever give up that really stands out in this campaign. The use of Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’ was the perfect soundtrack to illustrate what Detroit and what Eminem is made of.

7. Nike-“Fate- Leave Nothing” (2008)

Directed by the legendary David Fincher, this is by far my favorite NFL football campaign. He focuses on the life-long journeys of pro football players, LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers and future Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers as they collide in an NFL season game. In the campaign, you see how both players grew up, got involved with basketball and then football and how they trained for both sports. As the two collide on the field, the message is clear: give it your all, no matter what you choose to do and leave nothing on the table. If you leave it all out there, you’ll have no regrets, no matter what the result of everything you’ve worked towards.

8.Nike-“Let Your Game Speak” (2006)

I thought I’d close off the list with one last Michael Jordan campaign. Unlike the other ad campaigns featured on this list, this one contains no dialogue whatsoever. Instead, this campaign shows several basketball players making slick slam dunks and gorgeous shots on courts all over the world. College kids in tournaments, high school students in the gym, even students halfway across the world in China execute great plays on the basketball court. The ad ends with a basket being sunk due to a great shot from a young Chicago native during the Chi Classic while Michael Jordan stands, proudly watching the next generation-with the words ‘Let Your Game Speak’ going across the screen. Simple, but poignant, it tells you that sometimes, words are necessary to have make an impact. Sometimes, all you need is to let your skills speak for themselves.

That’s my list of ad campaigns that inspire me and push me to do better, move forward and continue fighting. Know any more that I should watch? Let me know!

In the meantime, here’s my list of go-to songs, books & movies that help me beat writer’s block.

Day 4-Using Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning-Getting the Right Flowers

Revelry-Event-Design-Dina-Douglas-Sonia-Sharma

Now that you’ve booked a venue and you’re making headway with finding your dream dress and creating your uniquely customized wedding invitations; it’s time to turn your attention to your décor and flowers for your bouquet.

Why are flowers great for your décor and your wedding? Well, they provide fresh ambience and color that other decorations can’t, as well as some creative elegance and sophistication. They also show your guests different quirks of your and your significant others’ personalities.

Before you jump the gun and start buying flowers, let me remind you about the questions that I posed previously that you need to ask your florist:

-What kind of flowers will be or are in season around the time of my wedding?

-Will the available flowers fit the color scheme I have for the wedding?

-How many flowers will I need for boutonnieres for guests?

-Is my favorite flower (rose, calla lily etc.) grown naturally in a color that will fit into my color scheme and if does, will it also fit into my budget?

-Is there a difference between fresh and dyed flowers and if the flowers I want aren’t available in my colors, is buying dyed flowers an option?

These top 3 apps & websites (in no particular order) will help you answer these questions and pick the best flowers for your wedding.

1) GrowersBox.com

growers box
Why It’s Awesome: You can order your own DIY wedding flowers, arranged wedding flower packages and even petals of different flowers including roses and peonies. You can also order flower gifts and different types of wholesale flowers that I rarely seen elsewhere, from Asiatic Lilies and mini Gerbera Daisies. You also search for flower by color and purchase dyed flower at your convenience.

2) Wedding Bouquet Ideas

Wedding_Bouquet_Ideas
Why It’s Awesome: This application shows you the galleries of hundreds of beautiful wedding bouquet ideas, designs and decorating. If you have an idea about wedding flower decorations, this application can help you. This app contains the various types and colors of flowers such as : bridal bouquet ideas, bridesmaid bouquets, tulips, roses, gardenia, daisy, hydrangea floral, paper, silk, fabric, jewelry, buttons bouquet, red, orange, blue, cream, pink, white, purple, green, spring, fall, summer, tropical and more.

3) Flowerbud.com

FlowerBud
Why It’s Awesome: You can purchase boxes of different flowers such as irises and lilies in different boxes and colors for your wedding as well as bonsai plants and sunflowers. If you get stuck on creating your own DIY wedding flowers, you can talk to their Wedding Coordinator for advice.

What makes these apps and websites the best for creating and compiling the best wedding flowers? Well, not only can you search for, create and customize all styles and forms of flower arrangements quicker and in the palm of your hand with easy-to-use and fun apps that are affordable, but you can also keep track of your flower orders much easier.

With the right tools and websites to help you find the right flowers that provide your ceremony and reception with some fresh ambience and reflects your personalities, what’s next on the wedding planning agenda? How about finding the best photography for your wedding?

Keep your eyes peeled and stay tuned for ‘Day 5 of How to Use Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning-Finding the Best in Photography’.

Yours in Wedding Planning,

 

Lilian Sue

Day 3-How to Use Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning-DIY Wedding Invitations and Save-the-Date Reminders

save the date example

You’ve got a wedding date set and the venue to hold it in, now you have to find somewhat to notify your guests about the wedding.

Are you looking to create your own invitations by hand? Or are you going to a graphic designer or a design and print shop for the professional touch? Or, maybe you’re looking for an integrated approach with some new media, a website and an app or two?

No matter what your preference is for your invites, you can’t get started until you answer some fundamental questions about your wedding and what you’ll be sharing about your relationship and your personalities-beyond the wedding date.

What colors are you using in your wedding theme (ie. for décor, flowers and dresses)?

-Beyond color in your wedding’s theme, do you have fun quirks and interests that reflect you and your significant other (ie. music notes, video game characters, a love of books and certain authors) that you aren’t afraid to share with your guests and make a theme out of?

-Are you open to using different materials and media for your invites (ie. fabric, typesetting, engraving etc.) as an option outside of standard paper or cardstock?

– Are you going to be incorporating cultural and/or religious symbols into your wedding as it reflects your heritage (ie. Chinese double happiness symbol, Ukrainian pysanka etc.)?

-Are you open to using an integrated approach with your invites and save-the-date reminders, incorporating physical invites with an app or website?

I will show you the best apps, websites and platforms that will help answer these questions and make the most out of your wedding invitations and save-the-date reminders that are easy to use, affordable and stress-free!

Here’s the top 4 apps, websites and platforms (in no particular order) that will help you make the most out of creating your wedding invitations and save-the-date reminders.

1) Minted.com

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Why It’s Awesome: This is an great website that not only gives you free invitation samples, the option to create save-the-date cards, postcards or magnet reminders; but also allows you to create thank you and RSVP cards. It’s also one of the few that I’ve seen that gives you the option to create cultural and religious wedding invitations through their website, but also allows you to create minibook wedding invites, wedding announcements and journals.

2) Appy Couple

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Why It’s Awesome: This app is great for connecting with your guests and share details with them that go beyond just notifying them about the wedding. You can create a wedding app and website all in one shot, let your guests know about flight and hotel information and give them a customized wedding code that allows guests to receive information via emails and on social media platforms. With the wedding code, guests can upload photos using the app and share stories automatically.

3) Up Up Creative

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Why It’s Awesome: You browse the website for the design that you like and all invitation, announcement, and photo card designs are available in printed OR printable form. By default, all designs are sold as print-ready files. These files can be printed at home, locally, or online. If you prefer to order printing from them, you can choose to do so separately. Simply click on Add Printing from the menu choices at the top of the site and order from there with 3 options for paper:100lb cover stock in bright white or cream OR upgrade to 100% cotton in white. You can also customize your order. Within 3 business days you’ll receive a digital (PDF) proof of the customized design. NOTE: For an additional fee, you can also choose to customize the fonts used on your invitation or you can choose to use a language other than English.

4) Paperless Post

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Why It’s Awesome: This app is one of the absolute best for event management because you can track cards and invites you’ve sent as well as respond to ones you’ve been sent. You can: receive push notifications for new cards and recipient activity, view RSVPs and replies from your recipients, add additional guests to your recipient list, send emails to groups of recipients by status and exchange private messages with recipients. You can also RSVP to events and comment on cards you’ve received, access event details such as date, time, and location, view guest lists and other guests’ comments and upload photos to event pages from your phone.

What makes these apps and websites the best for creating your customized wedding invites and save-the-date reminders? Well, not only can you search for, create and customize all styles and forms of invites quicker and in the palm of your hand with easy-to-use and fun apps that are affordable, but you can also keep track of your RSVPs much easier

With the right tools and websites to help you create the right wedding invites that reflect your relationship and your personalities, what’s next on the wedding planning agenda? How about finding your favorite flowers to fit in with your wedding theme?

Keep your eyes peeled and stay tuned for ‘Day 4 of How to Use Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning-Getting the Right Flowers’.

Yours in Wedding Planning,

 

Lilian Sue

Day 2-Using Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning-Finding Your Wedding Dress

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So you’ve found a great ceremony site and an awesome reception venue, maybe you’re currently working on getting your really cool and creative ‘save the date’ reminders out to your guests or trying to find a great photographer. But what about one of the most important dresses you’ll ever wear for a monumental occasion?

There are literally thousands of options for a wedding dress. There’s several different silhouettes from A-line to ball gown and even the option to have unique color accents on a white dress. I’ve seen blue, red and black accents on white wedding dresses.

And if you don’t want white for your wedding dress? No problem! You’ve got plenty of choices, cream, ivory, pink, blue, red, nearly any color you could think of. What if you want a dress that reflects your heritage, such as a sari or Chinese cheong sam? Well, there are a wide selection of dresses to fit any cultural tradition too, all you have to do is look.

But, with all the stress that comes with endless searches, dress fittings and even the horror of having your dream dress permanently ruined, how can finding the perfect wedding dress be fun AND stress free?

Let me show you how, using some of the best websites, social media platforms and apps to find your perfect wedding dress.

Top 4 Websites, Social Media Platforms & Apps for Finding the Perfect Wedding Dress

1) Brides Wedding Genius 4.0

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Why It’s Awesome: This great app comes from by Condé Nast Digital (the company responsible for Brides.com). You can browse for wedding dresses by silhouettes, brand and price and when you land on an image of a dress that you like you can tap it to flip through similar galleries or to locate a store in your area. You can also access more expert tips and Brides advice, save your favorites and categorize ideas in custom folders for easy access and/or to share with vendors and create drag and drop inspiration boards on BridesWeddingGenius.com with items you’ve uploaded on the go.

2) Nearly Newlywed

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Why It’s Awesome: This website turns the concept of buying used or pre-owned wedding dresses on its head. How? Well, you search the website for a wedding dress with the ‘Sell It Back’ symbol, purchase said perfect dress, wear it on your big day and then sell it back to the website. If you sell it back within 2 months of your big day, you can get up to 50% of the price you bought it for-back! If you sell it back within 3 months, you get 40% and you’ll receive 30% of the original price back when you sell it within 4 months of the big day.

3) Wedding Dress Look Book by The Knot

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Why It’s Awesome: Think of it as your on-the-go for wedding dress shopping on your iPhone from TheKnot.com — from wedding dress suggestions, customized to your body type and wedding style, to the bridal salons in your area that carry your favorite designs. With this app, you can: get suggested wedding dress search results based on your body type, wedding style, and personality. Search the hottest new wedding dresses — by style, shape, price, and designer — and bookmark your favorites for later as well as find bridal salons in your area that carry your favorite dresses.

4) Bravo Bride

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Why It’s Awesome: You can search for used dresses on this site based on silhouettes and save them as your favorites. You can purchase and sell your used wedding dress on this site as well as search affiliated wedding boutiques and talk with other brides on the forums.

What makes these apps and websites the best for finding your perfect dream wedding dress? Well, not only can you search for all styles of wedding dresses quicker and in the palm of your hand with easy-to-use and fun apps that are affordable, but you can also find where to purchase your dream dress much easier and quicker. You can also create inspiration boards and flipbooks for your favorites as well.

With the right tools and websites to help you find the perfect dream dress, what’s next on the wedding planning agenda? How about coming up with creative and fun invitations that uniquely reflect you and your relationship and spicing things up with cool ‘save-the-date’ reminders?

Keep your eyes peeled and stay tuned for ‘Day 3 of How to Use Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning-DIY Your Own Invitations & Save the Date Ideas’.

Yours in Wedding Planning,

Lilian Sue

Day 1 of How to Use Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning-Finding Your Ceremony Site

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After some time to come down from the high of getting engaged, you’ve no doubt slowly started looking to doing some wedding planning. Maybe you’ve even started looking into a few wedding venues.

If that’s the case, let me remind you of 5 crucial questions you must answer in order to choose the right wedding venue:

1) What kind of theme and ambience am I going for with the wedding? (ie. Elegant, Traditional, Quirky, Modern-can also impact color scheme)

2) Are there family and/or religious traditions I have to consider?

3) Will the weather or transportation play a huge factor into the venue I choose? (ie. Are you going for indoor or outdoor? Out-of-town venue? Destination wedding?)

4) What’s my budget cap for booking a ceremony venue?

5) How many people am I prepared to have attend the ceremony?

Have you thought about what kind of theme your wedding will have or what your budget will be for finding a ceremony & reception venue? Are you worried about how long and how much energy you’ll have to spend looking for the right venue?

Let me show you the Top 4 websites, apps & social media tricks (in no particular order) to find the best wedding venue for your city

1) Facebook Graph Search

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Why It’s Awesome: Because Graph Search can look up anything from photos to local businesses-INCLUDING wedding venues your friends like, you can search for ‘[insert vendor need here]– that my friends like’ to get a list of options. The search results show which of your friends has liked each vendor, so you can message your friend to ask questions or get a referral.

2) Eventective

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Why It’s Awesome: This website has literally every kind of venue you can ask for a wedding, from reception halls, to restaurants, resorts and hotels. You can search for venues all over the US and Canada and you can even log onto their online forum to get advice on weddings and other events and read how-to articles.

3) WeddingMapper App

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Why It’s Awesome: This awesome app allows you to create lists of your vendors including your ceremony and reception venues, manage their contact information and other notes and schedule payments as well as track payment information all in one place.

4) I Do Venues App

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Why It’s Awesome: Comprehensive venue app for ceremony and reception venues in California. A comprehensive directory along with full galleries and information on each venues’ layout so you can see exactly how each theme, design idea and color palette will look.

Why are these sites, social media platforms and apps so great for finding the perfect ceremony and/or reception venue? Well, they save you time and energy and eliminates guesswork as well as endless searches on Google for your city’s best ceremony and reception venues.

They’ll give you the tools and the ability to see everything from locations and photos to layouts for each venue and you’ll be able to keep track of your favourite venues using these sites and apps, including tracking the payment history for the venue of your choice.

So with the right tools, sites and apps to get your ceremony and reception venues sorted, what’s next on the list for wedding planning? Figuring out how you’re going to find the perfect wedding dress for such a monumental occasion with Day 2: How to Use Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning-Finding the Perfect Wedding Dress.

Yours in Wedding Planning,

Lilian Sue