Freelance Writing: Social Media Monitoring Made Easy for Jeweller Magazine

Hello All,

My latest freelance contribution to Jeweller Magazine across the pond in Melbourne, Australia focuses on the best social media monitoring tools out on the market for jewellers to use that are A) free, B) easy to use and C) provide metrics for all kinds of social media platforms.

Check it out here or at the direct link, if you’d like and let me know what you think and if you’ve come across other tools that are just as awesome!

Remember, keep it locked here for more in marketing, PR & indie film!

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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

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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

Minted-Silhouettes
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

Nearly_Newlywed
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

Bravo_Bride
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

wedding ceremony site haiku mill maui

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

Facebook_Graph_Search_Wedding
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

Eventective
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

Introducing ‘How to Use Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning’

One-Stop-Wedding-Planning-

If you’re newly engaged and find yourself overwhelmed by questions from family and friends and the sheer amount of things that have to be done for a wedding, from getting a reception venue to finding a photographer; this blog series is for you.

With this blog series, I’m going to show you how social media can make finding the perfect wedding dress, the right photographer and the best ceremony and reception venues-easier and quicker. Not only that, social media can add a creative marketing flair to your wedding, including helping you discover how DIY elements can give your wedding a unique individual flair not seen anywhere else.

For example, did you know that by using social media to help plan your wedding you can:

-Ask other engaged couples for help, all over the world-no matter what time it is?

-Have a mobile message board & community to inform & converse with guests always on hand

-Find unique and never before seen items and ideas from individualized rings (complete with fingerprints) to DIY centerpieces

-Find a reliable, affordable, unique and fun solution to an expensive DJ or live band

-Discover fun ideas for your first dance and for your vows.

-Always keep your wedding budget (including graphs of how much you’ve allocated to each element of the wedding) in the palm of your hand.

-Curate any and all information (such as flights, hotels & city attractions) for your out-of-town guests to have while they’re on the go

-Grab the expertise from top wedding blogs and incorporate them into your private, online inspiration board

-Keep all you wedding related tasks organized and synced to all of your social media profiles

-Find the perfect venue for your ceremony and reception, no matter how quirky and how big the guest list

For the next 8 weeks, I’ll be showing you how to use social media to do all of these things for your wedding and more.

First up, Day 1: How to Use Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning: Finding Your Ceremony Venue.

In the meantime, check out this awesome slideshow on a few important questions you should be asking about weddings.

Yours in Wedding Planning,

Lilian Sue

6 Unique Ways Instagram Video Can Improve Your Marketing Strategies

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By now, you or someone you know has probably experimented with Instagram, snapping photos with your mobile device and posting them to your account, tagging different people and maybe even sharing them via Facebook and Twitter.

But have you ever tried Instagram Video? If you haven’t, it’s an awesome way to incorporate video into the marketing you’re already doing. Not only that, Instagram’s video capabilities will let you do more than Twitter’s Vine ever could!

For starters, Instagram Video offers up to 15 seconds of video recording time which beats Vine’s 6 seconds. You can also edit the video on Instagram by deleting a specific segment instead of having to delete the whole video at once.

instagram video filters

Instagram also brings their custom filters to their videos the same way you can use them on your photos and just like your photos, any video you create via Instagram can be seen by over 130 million people as opposed to 13 million users on Vine. Instagram Video is also available directly inside the mobile app so you don’t have to download an outside app and you can even scroll through to pick the best cover image for your video, which will help entice first-time viewers to click through to the video. Instagram videos also play in-line on Facebook for desktop users. Like YouTube and Facebook videos, a Facebook user can click and watch the clip right in their Facebook account after logging in.

Now that you’ve seen what makes Instagram Video stand out, here’s 6 different ways it can help improve your marketing strategies:

1) Shoot a Product Demo & Answer FAQs

Sometimes, rather than spending half an hour to an hour answering customer questions and inquiries via email or Twitter, it can be really beneficial to make a list of the most popular customer inquiries and use short Instagram videos to answer them.

If your customers have a lot of questions on how your product works, show them how through step-by-step instructions with narration so they can receive additional helpful info about your product. It’s a great value-add for your customers with the added bonus of being easy to follow and share, rather than paging through paragraphs of text or long pages of images.

2) Create a Visual Portfolio of Your Work

Streetlevel

A post shared by Verve Coffee Roasters (@vervecoffee) on

Remember the saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’? Well a 15 second video has the potential communicate much more than a thousand words. Depending on the nature of your industry (this could work better if you’re in food/beverage, beauty, fashion/style, technology, digital media etc.), try shooting videos of recent work you’ve done for clients as a video look book for potential customers to look through.

Whether you’re a makeup artist wanting to share the latest glamorous looks or a café wanting to showcase a cake decorator’s skill, the possibilities for a video visual portfolio are endless!

3) Highlight Special Offers and Events

15 seconds is quite a long time to promote a special offer or event with video. If you’re holding a contest or if you have a special sale for a certain product/service (ie. massage), be sure to show fans and prospective customers what they can win or what they can purchase for the special sale.

Flipping the camera view mode to record a personal message to help promote the event or special sale helps add a personal touch to your marketing for your customer. Use the description field to emphasize the video message advertising the sale, contest or event and add a hashtag to track conversions and extend your reach. A short video might be just what you need to reach a larger audience.

4) Invite Fans & Followers Submissions Via Hashtags

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Invite your fans to submit an Instagram video with a hashtag of your choosing to enter a contest or help promote your live event. If your audience is on Instagram, this could be a great way to engage them and generate great UGC content and brand loyalty. It’s also a more organic way to get genuine content to promote your live event. Potential fans will be more likely to believe content their friends create and share as being genuine than that from a company.

5) Humanize Your Brand

A glimpse behind the scenes of the #Burberry Prorsum Menswear Spring/Summer 2014 show, #London

A post shared by Burberry (@burberry) on

Social media has blurred the lines of communication between companies and their audiences with brands increasingly turning to real-time, real life social engagement with their customers in order to compete in the marketplace. In turn, this creates a need for companies to be more transparent and open with their audiences.

Instagram videos offers brands an opportunity to do this in bite-sized chunks that showcase their style, their workplace culture and gives customers an inside look on how they do things. It helps a brand stand out from its competitors and connect with customers to show them they don’t have secrets to hide and build trust.

6) Increase Engagement on Facebook

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Videos and photos inspire the most engagement (comments, likes and shares) via Facebook. The fact that you’re allowed to view Instagram videos directly inside the Facebook browser can be a huge help to raising community engagement and allowing fans to leave their questions, comments and shares to the brand directly.

Conclusion

Instagram video gives you the flexibility to engage with potential customers and new fans in a variety of ways that not only increases engagement, but brings more user-friendly features to the table than Twitter’s Vine. Try it out and see how it can increase engagement amongst fans and improve your marketing strategies!

Stay tuned on here for more posts on different strategies for content marketing. But in the meantime, check out how mobile marketing can help you generate leads.

How to Turn Brand Advocates into Content Creators

It seems like brands everywhere can’t get enough high-value good quality content to fill their growing marketing needs. Content marketing isn’t exactly a new strategy but it has definitely taken off in the last 2 years. After spending the last few years focusing on building followers and social media ROI, marketers are now seeing the benefits of educating and entertaining their customers, fans and followers using quality content.

However, content marketing poses a few problems for marketers. Not only are fans and followers devouring content quicker than marketers can keep up, good quality content marketing also takes time and money. Many brands have taken to outsourcing content development and creating content, whether internally or externally, is expensive and brands are struggling to have their budgets meet demand.

With expert tips and tricks, you’ll learn how to leverage band advocates to get more content that is affordable, performs better and will solve your content problem.

Differences Between Brand Content & Advocate Created Content

Let’s be honest, not only is branded content expensive, with many companies spending up to 25% of their allotted budgets to create the content; most of that content is also pretty self-promotional. Consumers eventually get turned off by content that is too self-promotional. Advocate created content has an edge because it allows your brand story to be told through the eyes of others. Consumers find this type of content so trustworthy that advocate created content gets 10X more engagement than branded content. 84% of these consumers will trust honest reviews and recommendations from friends and family more than any form of advertising, according to the 2013 Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey.

So how do you find out who your brand advocates are? Your brand advocates can be bloggers who review your products, customers who have had positive experiences and even your own employees. You can find and develop relationships with your brand advocates by searching through fans and followers on social networks and filtering through customer and employee databases.

Once you’ve found them, you can start encouraging them to share the content they’ve created. Here are 5 tips on how to do that:

1) Make It Easy

Your brand advocates will be more willing to share your content if you make it easier for them. Provide advocates with great available content. Even though advocates love your brand, they might not necessarily go out and look for content to share. Providing them with great available content lowers the barriers and increases the likelihood that they will create and share great content for your brand.

Example: Chipotle created an animated short known as the Scarecrow to illustrate how important it is to cultivate healthy, non-processed food is and incorporated a mobile game with the campaign. Not only did the YouTube video get 6 million views and turn viral, the content was shared numerous times by brand advocates and fans all over the world.

2) Help Them Get Started

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One way to encourage advocates to create short-form content (such as an Instagram video) or long-form content (ie. a blog post) is to give them a prompt to get started. Advocates may want to share, but they could be having trouble finding something to say. Giving them a topic or theme can go a long way to getting advocates to share content quickly.

Example: The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has simply asked celebrities and festival goers to share their favorite moments from the festival using the hashtag #TIFF14. Any content with the hashtag gets shared and collated across all social media platforms and helps break the ice for advocates wondering how to get started.

3) Don’t be Too Rigid

Giving advocates prompts or directions to help them get started is great, but be aware of being too restrictive. Advocates know their audiences best, so allow them to the freedom to customize messages that fit their audiences best.

4) Provide variety

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Providing advocates with content in different formats is a great way to ensure that they always have a variety of content to choose from. Videos from events and infographics are great examples of shareable content.

5) Keep it Fresh

Update your content and prompts every couple of weeks to make sure advocates always have opportunities to share new content. Also, inform advocates when new prompts are available so they can contribute

Re-purposing Advocate Content

Re-purposing advocate content on your brand-owned channels is a great way to thank your advocates and also maximize the reach of their content. Here’s another reason to repurpose that content: advocate content performs 7X better on brand owned channels than the brand’s own content.

Where to Re-purpose Advocate Content

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Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube are great platforms to repurpose advocate content because of the high visibility the channels provide brands. All these channels are great places to re-purpose videos, photos and any blog posts or articles.

Website

Showcasing advocate content on your website homepage, blog or dedicated page is a great way to thank you brand advocates for their great content and create a content hub that other uses can go to, to see the best of your advocate created videos, blog posts and photos.

Print

Whether it’s inside a bricks-and-mortar store or in a catalogue, taking digital images offline can help extend the lifetime of the content and help to maximize its ability to reach different audiences.

Conclusion

By engaging with brand advocates to share their content to supplement what brands are already doing on their own online and social channels, brands will see higher social engagement. Powering advocates to share their story helps companies to grow their businesses.

Stay tuned here every week to find more expert tips and tricks to creating better marketing campaigns and become a PR pro!

21 Awesome Online Tools to Make Your Business More Efficient

Technology is moving and changing at lightning speed in today’s day and age. If you don’t integrate at least some of the tools and cutting-edge platforms to help your marketing strategies and assist increasing your company’s productivity, you’re going to be left behind by the competition.

But, it’s not as simple as just pressing a button or learning HOW to use a tool or application. You need to have support for adopting new changes in your company from the senior management down to IT, marketing, sales and business development and an open environment to collaborate and share the knowledge on the new applications.

This blog post will cast the spotlight on the most popular cloud-based applications that your company should be using to improve creativity, productivity and efficiency.

The applications fall under the following categories:

• File sharing and collaboration tools that will help your business get projects done faster
• Social networking tools that make cross collaboration between teams easier
• Administrative tools that make managing manage projects, schedules and billing a breeze
• Tools that make sales, marketing and content management simple
• Misc. tools that will help you save time on managing your email and more time developing strategies

File Sharing and Collaboration Tools

1) Evernote

Evernote-4

Do you have Post-It notes scattered all over your desk and have a hard time keeping track of all the paper you take notes on during meetings? If this sounds like you, Evernote is the program for you.

With Evernote, you can capture, organize and write information that can be accessed using any device, even giving you the ability to read the text off of photos of notes you’ve taken. You can save and share information in your Evernote virtual notebook that can be shared with your team through Evernote Business.

You could create separate virtual notebooks for each client to keep track of business goals, campaign ideas and project notes. You can even create shareable notebooks for clients to look at, filled with informative web articles or ideas you’ve been ruminating on that you think they might like. When you’re researching on the web, Evernote’s Web Clipper can be your best friend because it allows you to capture and store screenshots of the web pages you’ve been looking at.

Cost: Individual Use: Free, Individual Premium Use: $5.00/month or $45.00/year and Evernote Business: $10/user/month

 

2) Dropbox

Dropbox

By now, you’ve probably heard of Dropbox. It’s a cloud-based shareable hard drive that you can sync files, photos, videos and projects saved on your personal computer to your work computer or vice versa. When you make a change to a file, the updated version is automatically saved to Dropbox, so you’re working on the latest version no matter where you access it from. If you want to revert to working on an earlier version, you have the option to do that also.

Instead of attaching several files in an email, you can just send a link to the Dropbox folder. You can organize all your files into subfolders based on department, subject or client, so that every folder is shared with the right group of people.

Cost: Individual use: Free up to 2 GB of storage, Team use: Starts @ $795/year for 5 users with unlimited storage

 

3) Google Drive

Google-Drive

Google Drive is the new home for Google Docs where you can upload files and create spreadsheets and presentations to share with others. Any editing you do to the documents is automatically saved and you’re always working on the most recent version. Everyone can see the same version of the document without dozens of email threads with new attachments. Editors can highlight text and suggest changes with the comment tool and writers can hit the ‘Resolve’ button on each comment after the feedback has been incorporated.

Google Drive also has the benefit of being able to open 30 different file types right in your browser, even if you don’t have the appropriate program installed. (ie. you can see .psd files even without Photoshop). Just like with Dropbox, you can organize files into different subfolders and access the documents both on and offline. Google Drive can also recognize objects and text within images like Evernote!

Cost: Individual use: Free w/ 5 GB storage, Google Apps for Business: $5/user/month or $50/user/year

 

4) Google +

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There’s a great way you can interact and collaborate with your clients on Google + by using Google Hangouts. You can have live video chats with your clients while editing a Google Doc to write down campaign ideas. You can also share videos and documents over Google Hangouts too!

Cost: Free (Needs Google Email Account)


5) Microsoft Office 365

You can use the cloud version of Microsoft Office, email inboxes, calendars, instant messaging and file sharing. You have access to web versions of Office, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote with some pricing plans giving you access to the online version of Microsoft Sharepoint for document sharing and collaboration.

You can use the online versions in conjunction with the desktop version which will allow you to move documents back and forth without losing formatting.

Cost: Small business with 50 users: $6/user/month, midsize business or enterprise with 50k users (view files online but no editing)$8/user/month, Enterprise with 50k users (view files online & editing) $14/user/month

Internal Social Networks

6) Salesforce Chatter

With an internal social network like Chatter, you can ask questions, send files back and forth and get responses in real-time without overloading the email server. You don’t have to worry about it getting out of the office because Chatter is for your company only. You can create groups for specific clients to ask questions and provide feedback. It’s a great way to keep telecommuting employees and those in out-of-town conferences in the loop.

Cost: Basic Chatter for your company: Free, Chatter Plus: collaboration, customization with Salesforce CRM features $15/user/month

 

7) Yammer

yammer

The enterprise social network provider is now part of Microsoft Office and you can use it to organize meetings and events and create groups for specific clients to house all the campaign ideas and project details.

Used in conjunction with MS Office, you can create an organization chart for your business so that everyone knows who’s who in each department.

Cost: Basic: Free, Yammer Enterprise: $3/user/month, Yammer Enterprise w/ Office 365: $8/user/month

 

8) Basecamp

Basecamp

Basecamp is a simple project management platform that allows you to centralize all presentations, documents and meeting notes in one place. You can track and assign project milestones and keep track of the progress on your computer and on your mobile devices.

Basecamp doesn’t price by number of users so everyone involved in a particular project can access the platform to work together. You can control who works on which project and organize them based on their departments (ie. event planning, accounting). You can use the Discussion feature to keep track of all the different conversations and use email to reply to them so you don’t even have to log in.

You can coordinate everyone’s schedules and project milestones using the calendar and keep track of clients’ editorial calendars so you know what’s published when

Cost: $20/month for 10 projects with unlimited users & 3 GB of storage, $150/month for unlimited projects and users with 100 GB of storage

 

9) ActiveCollab

ActiveCollab is another easy-to-use project management system that includes the ability to create invoices and manage time. You can access projects by filtering searches by clients, label, assignee and more and you can break better tasks into sub-tasks and drag and drop project milestones into certain due dates.

You can even create quotes for new projects and mark them as ‘won’ or ‘lost’. If won, you can import the client contact information and start a new project based on the quote.

You can filter tracked time by billable and non-billable and populate a new invoice

Cost: Small business w/ unlimited users: $249/month, Corporate use w/ unlimited users (including time tracking & invoicing0: $399/month

 

10) Intervals

Intervals

Intervals is a web-based project management software that combines time and task management with reporting that allows you to see where time is being spent and adjust priorities accordingly.

There’s a built-in timer that you can use to calculate time spent on projects. You can put in task instructions and attach any accompanying files to help with a project such as research notes or website copy. You can track the evolving changes in a document and revert back to the previous version(s) if you choose. The reports help you view which clients you’re spending the most time on, which clients you need to bill, whether you need to hire someone to help with the workload and if you should be adjusting the hourly rate.

Cost: 40 projects, unlimited users, 15 GB of storage: $50/month, unlimited projects, unlimited users, 75 GB of storage: $150/month

 

11) Workamajig

Workamajig

Workamajig is a web based project management system that combines task management, shared calendars, contact management, expense management, project requests, billing and more.

You can created customized templates for creative briefs, tasks, estimates and more-and you have the option to host it internally on your servers or on the Workamajig servers.

Cost: $38/user/month w/ minimum of 10 users

 

12) Trello

13trello

The premise of Trello, another web based project management systems, is that you write tasks on “cards” like digital Post-It Notes and attach them to different boards labeled “Need to Research”, “Delivered to Client” etc. You can create as many cards as you want to keep track of where projects are at, assign people to them and once the projects are done, you can move the cards from “To Do” to “Done”.

Create cards for different content marketing projects and even create cards for employees to store meeting notes and feedback that they can easily access rather than interrupting them via email or in person. You stay updated on all your different boards and how projects are doing using Trello’s mobile app for iPhone and Android.

Cost: Free

Content Sourcing, Creation & Management Tools

13) Kapost

You can create and manage your entire editorial calendar with Kapost Calendar and even export them to your everyday work calendar (iCal, Outlook, or Google). You can assign different user permissions to all involved in the content management process, from all access to view only AND you can add clients so that they can take a look and give feedback and their approval.

When you have a content idea, you can email the Kapost platform for editors to review, approve and then it goes into the editorial calendar. You can categorize all content according to campaigns, content types etc.

Cost: Standard: $1200/year for 8 users, Pro: $3000/year for 20 users, Enterprise: Quote

 

14) Zerys

Zerys for Agencies banner

Zerys is a content marketing and project management system that connects your company with qualified writers looking for opportunities to create content for your clients.

Post writing jobs, sample writers based on their expertise, review their work, negotiate rates and publish their work.

You can create questionnaires to ask clients what they are looking for in a project and you can then use that to create a job description for writers. It will help generate a lot of content for client blogs in a short amount of time and you can add your own company’s writers to the system.

Cost: Pricing is based on the per word rate you charge between $0.01 to $0.20

 

15) Contently

contently-screenshot

Contently offers an editorial project management program along with a marketplace that connects brands, agencies and other companies with the talent that can complete content projects.

Using Contently, brands gain access to qualified writers that have already been vetted and writers gain access to self-promotional tools and visibility into how their content is performing.

You can create and manage your entire editorial calendar, schedule publishing times and due dates, manage approvals, editing workflows and you can automate content to publish on WordPress, Hubspot, Typepad or Tumblr.

Cost: You’ll have to ask Contently for pricing plans

 

Misc. Handy Tools

16) PassPack

PassPack

PassPack allows you to store all of your agency’s and clients’ passwords, grant access to team members on a need to know basis and it saves time by allowing you to log-in into the sites with the one-touch button to login that also works on mobile.

Cost: Up to 100 passwords for 1 user: Free, Pro: $1.50/month for up to 1,000 passwords and 3 users, Group: $4/month for up to 1,500 passwords and 15 users, Team: $12/month for up to 2,000 passwords and 80 users, $40/month for up to 10,000 passwords and 1,000 users

17) Rapportive

rapportive

Rapportive allows you to find out more about your email contacts by providing info about their social media activity right inside your Gmail inbox. You can see their interests and hobbies and connect with them on a variety of social media platforms.

It helps you put a face to the name of unknown contacts in email, use recent tweets and their LinkedIn profile to find common ground to help you tailor your conversations accordingly and follow them via social media without getting distracted and pulled away from your inbox.

Cost: Free!

 

18) Skitch

Skitch

It’s a screen capture, sketching and annotation tool that makes explaining a project to a client much easier. You can overlay text, draw simple arrows, shapes and lines and blur image sections to draw attention to certain areas. As Skitch is also an Evernote product, you can save all your Skitch notes and share them between all your devices.

You can use Skitch screenshots in blog posts, reports and in emails to your clients to help you illustrate your point.

Cost: Free!

 

19) Pixlr

Pixlr

It’s a web-based, desktop and mobile photo editing tool that allows account managers and social media strategists to create and edit images without having to resort to spending large amounts of money for a Photoshop license. You can add Pixlr to Google Drive, edit your photos and re-save them on the Drive and you can easily edit any online image by clicking and dragging it to Pixlr using the Firefox and Chrome extensions. You get the mobile app to edit photos on the go when you’re away from the computer.

Cost: Pixlr Web-Based Editor: Free, Pixlr Express: Free, Pixlr Express Plus for Android & iPhone: $0.99

 

20) Pocket

Pocket lets you save everything online that you want to read later and tag them with different tags so they’re easy to organize and find when you’re ready. Pocket syncs content automatically across all your devices, so you can read it with or without an internet connection.

You can even sync Pocket bookmarks on your mobile devices to Evernote and manage your articles along with notes and ideas.

Cost: Free!

 

21) DocuSign

DocuSign

With DocuSign, you can upload a document you need signed, indicate where a client needs to sign and the date and send it off with a customized note. Once they’ve signed off, you’ll get an email notification and you can start the project.

You can upload all kinds of contracts, NDAs and employee handbooks into DocuSign and save time and money on the printing process and turnaround time.

Cost: Free for 1 user w/ 5 signature/month, Professional: $15/user/month for 50 signatures/month, Workgroup: $20/user/month for 2-200 users and unlimited signatures, Enterprise: Get a quote

 

Check back here every week for more posts on how to become an expert on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, content development and management AND learn about new tools you can use to make marketing and running a business easier!

Attracting More Customers With Twitter and Vine

vine-twitter

So you’ve created an amazing Twitter profile for your company, complete with an eye-catching branded cover photo and profile image. You’ve started following key companies as well as industry influencers and bloggers in order to stay ahead of the competition and keep on top of what’s new and exciting.

You’ve started sharing cool tweets and updates of new products and tools you have, cool infographics and fun events and people are responding to them and sharing them with their networks. So, everything’s great on Twitter, right?

Well, you’re gaining followers and fans but you still feel like there’s more that you could be doing to help gain more of an audience and stay ahead of the competition via Twitter and other social media channels.

That’s where I come in. With this post, I’m going to give you a few secrets on to optimize your branded Twitter page for search and then bust a few myths about marketing on Twitter along the way.

Later, I’ll also give you some tips and tricks on how to attract customers by incorporating Vine into your marketing strategy.

6 Steps to Optimize Twitter for Search

1) Keep Your Handles Spam Free

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You can change your Twitter handle at any time, but make sure to keep it professional and unique. Don’t put too many numbers behind it because Google could mistake it for spam because there’s no way to differentiate between which ones are real and which ones aren’t.

2) Include Keywords in Your Bios

To improve SEO, include at least one keyword about your industry in your bio, but don’t overstuff it with keywords because it’ll look forced. A few keywords in an attention-catching bio deployed in the right way to help you increase your visibility on search results.

3) Build Your Reach

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Gaining an audience of high-quality followers in important for SEO purposes. Google checks the authority of every user who’s tweeting content, so make sure you share great quality content with legitimate Twitter accounts in order to raise your search ranking.

4) Create a Subset of Keywords

Your business should have a set of keywords it tries to rank for, but not all of them translate over to Twitter. Analyze the keywords through various tools and pick a smaller subset that are easier to tweet on a semi-regular basis to raise your ranking.

5) Keep Tweets in the Safe Zone

To make sure your SEO-optimized tweets aren’t deleted when someone re-tweets them, try to aim for status update lengths of between 120-130 characters. That way, re-tweets have some leg room and you’ll also improve click-through rates (CTRs) on your tweets.

6) Fuel Your Inbound Links

Posting updates that people love retweeting will boost your optimization efforts and Google analyzes the number of followers who retweet your content and ranking your retweeted link-the Twitter equivalent of an inbound link. So make sure whatever you share catches enough attention that people want to retweet it.

Busting Twitter Marketing Myths

marketing myths

Myth #1: Having a Twitter Account for Longer Time Period is Better than a Shorter One

Your presence on Twitter isn’t measured by how long you’ve been a member, but the value that you provide which translates into followers and engagement. To increase your value, make sure you provide high-quality content and don’t spend all your time simply trying to sell your products and services.

Myth #2:Tweeting every second of the day is better than tweeting fewer times

Everyone knows that tweets have a short shelf life but that doesn’t mean you should be tweeting every single second. When you tweet every second, your older updates will move down your followers’ news feeds and having constant updates can irk your followers pretty quickly. So remember that tweeting too many times can irk your current fans and decrease the likelihood of getting more followers.

Myth #3: Following industry influencers is better than following customers

Many businesses will follow industry leaders to gain insights into what they think and follow competitors to keep on top of what they’re doing, but they ignore customers. Don’t ignore your customers, if they care enough to like and share your content, you should give them some of that love and respect back and reciprocate by following them to see what’s been going on.

Now that you have a better grasp of how to master Twitter, here are some tips on how to incorporate Vine into your marketing strategy

How to Incorporate Vine

By now, you’ve probably heard about Vine. It’s an app that allows you to capture and share short videos that are 6 seconds or shorter. It compliments the 140 character limit on Twitter nicely and gives you more of a chance to be creative in a shorter timeframe.

You can use Vine to expand your video library and incorporate more videos into your marketing strategy. You can also share them via your Twitter updates quickly and easily. Unlike longer videos, Vine’s ability for quick uploads and easy-to-use interface gives you the freedom to experiment with different topics and images without having to worry about video production quality.

6 Ideas to Inspire Vine Videos
1) Sneak peeks to promote an upcoming event or webinar. (ie. speaker clips)
2) Product demos featuring a particular feature or tool
3) Clips showing new gear and products in action
4) Behind the scenes look at the office culture
5) Short case studies of customers using your products
6) Clips highlighting your company participating in community events

A great way to encourage engagement with your followers with Vine is to pose a question to all of them and post the answers in the form of short and snappy Vine videos, as a video Q&A or shortened version of a Google Hangout.

Once the questions come in, a moderator will tell your followers which questions are being answered and when to expect the video. Once a video is produced, you can automatically share it via Twitter. In an hour-long Twitter chat, you can produce anywhere from 15-20 short video responses.

If you’re going to do a Vine Twitter chat, make sure you have one person monitoring responses via Twitter, one person in charge of the filming and one expert on camera answering the questions. Make sure you always have a backlog of good questions collected from Twitter on hand so you can produce the videos faster AND when you post the video make sure you use the chat’s hashtag AND include the expert’s Twitter handle.

How to Measure Twitter and Vine ROI

twitter-roi

Twitter has two purposes that you need to be measuring: Business Generated through Leads and Twitter Database/Follower Growth.

To measure business growth from Twitter, you need to look at two elements: how many visits you’ve had to your website through links you’ve placed on Twitter and how many new contacts (ie. sign up for an e-book, enter their email addresses, contacted you) those visits have generated.

You can measure your Twitter database growth using 3 different metrics: Measure how many followers you gain from month and month (which allows you to see which campaign tactics have been working and which ones haven’t), daily follower growth and how many link clicks you’re getting from these followers. You can use a tool like TwitterCounter to help measure your follower growth over time.

Tracking Vine is a little trickier, but there are a couple of ways. You can add hashtags to status updates with links to Vine videos and hashtags are trackable using tools like TweetReach. You can then search for the custom hashtag you used for the Vine video and see how many tweets the hashtag received, how many impressions and how many people it reached. You can also see the month-to-month growth of followers on your Vine account.

Stay tuned for more posts on how to better utilize Vine and Twitter in your marketing strategies!