Azure Collier

my take on social media marketing and its impact on how we work, live and consume

My top 5 of 2013

2013On this last day of 2013, I wanted to take a look back at my blog and the topics that spoke to my readers the most. I reached a milestone this year – 10,000 views – and these are the top 5 posts you were interested in:

1. Make your LinkedIn profile stand out by adding projects

This is by far the top post people come to my blog for. If you haven’t read the post, it has instructions on how to create a visual, creative portfolio by adding links to your projects in the Summary or Experience areas of your LinkedIn profile

2. 3 tools that will help you measure and optimize your Instagram engagement

As Instagram’s popularity grew in 2013, people were interested in getting the most out of their Instagram content and measuring how effective it was. This post gives you 3 tools to do that – Statigram, SimplyMeasured, and Twitrland.

3. 3 tools that will turn your Instagram images into a Facebook cover photo

If you’ve been taking Instagram photos, they probably look better than other photos you’ve snapped with your smartphone, thanks to Instagram’s magical filters. So it makes sense that Instagram users want to show those off in their Facebook cover photo. This post has instructions on how to use PicStitch, Statigram, and  InstaCover to do just that.

4. 3 tools to analyze the impact of your personal Facebook profile

Most marketing blogs are focused on how to create and measure effective content for Facebook business pages. I really haven’t seen anything to show how your network of friends and family interact with your personal Facebook profile. This post looks at 3 tools – WolframAlpha’s Facebook Report, Klout, and My Social Strand – and how to analyze what content your personal network likes.

5. How can your business get noticed in the new Facebook news feed? More visual content

In 2013, Facebook made several changes to the look of its News Feed and what kind of content is seen by fans. Those changes reflect something that Facebook users have been telling us for a while: they want more photos and videos.

Thanks to all of my readers for checking out my posts this year! I look forward to writing more posts to help you with social media marketing in 2014. Happy New Year!

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Make your blog better: Tips from the Blog Better Boston conference

Emily and I at Blog Better Boston

Emily and I at Blog Better Boston (I have no idea how to pose at these things!)

This past weekend, my friend Emily and I attended the second annual Blog Better Boston conference, held at the Boston Globe, and organized by fabulous bloggers Alana of The Good Girl Gone Blog and Amy of I’m Gonna Fly.

The event included some great sessions on creating media kits, blog design, working with brands, photography, and creating content – I learned so much from everyone I met, and discovered that Boston has a very welcome, friendly blogging community (who knew?!).

If you have a blog, or you’ve been thinking of starting a blog, check out what Blog Better Boston speakers had to say about design, content and planning:

Design

Alison of Long Distance Loving (fellow Hoosier-turned-New Englander!) shared great tips on blog design – I hope to put some of those in action, so look for a redesign soon! Why does blog design matter? “From the moment you first lay eyes on a blog, you know whether you want to stay or go,” Alison said.

And what makes good design? A blog that’s easy to read and navigate, uncomplicated, has consistency (photo sizes, alignment and length of posts), and reflects your personality. Some people opt to pay for professional design, but if you’re doing it yourself, try some new fonts. Free fonts are available at:

Content

Boston Globe beauty and fashion writer/blogger Rachel Raczka knows good content, and the best kind is created when you find out what your readers want from you. She suggests that each week you should check your stats: what posts do people click on the most? What search terms are bringing them to your blog? Those are the topics they’re coming to you for, so make sure you’re filling that need.

“How to” posts are a great way to connect with readers, but try using more multimedia than text for a how to post. The visuals for this type of post are the best aspect to concentrate on – try steps and photos or go for video. Try combining those tips in a Vine post – Vine has been getting attention, but it’s underutilized. A creative Vine post can get you noticed.

Planning

Julie of Orchid Grey shared her solution for the work-life-blog balance: a content calendar. Planning your blog posts, creating a recurring calendar of themes, and scheduling when you write and research creates consistency for you and your readers. It also allows room for your priorities, time for other interests, and creative inspiration.

This blog is not my full time job. It’s a creative outlet that I try to make time for between my full time job, the 2 hours a day I spend commuting, my social life, and my nonprofit commitments. So, for right now, I have time for one post a week. And that’s OK.

I fit blogging into my week by scheduling office hours in my calendar. I set aside a few hours (as little as 1 hour, but no more than 3) during the week for research, blog stats, checking out new tools, and brainstorming. I plan one night a week – and it varies each week based on whatever I have going on socially, or with meetings, or other responsibilities – to write a post. And there are little times throughout the week where I think of ideas and add them to a spreadsheet, or bookmark interesting stats, infographics or posts that I come across.

Why you should blog

Although I walked away with a lot of practical tips, the biggest lesson I learned is that blogging is a tremendous opportunity, and you get out of it what you put into it. If you spend the time and make the commitment, the payoff is a community of loyal readers and fellow bloggers, a place for you to share your creativity, and a chance for you to grow your personal brand.

Got more tips?

If you are a blogger, how do you do it? Got any tips to share? I’ve been writing my personal blog for six months, so I have a lot to learn from the blogging community. Feel free to your thoughts in the comments.

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How to make time for social media marketing

According to my tiny alarm clock, it's time for you to post to your blog!

According to my tiny alarm clock, it’s time for you to post to your blog!

One of the biggest struggles that people have with social media marketing is finding time to actually do it.

Everyone has their own tips, tricks and tools, so I thought I would share mine:

Make it a part of your routine

Every day I make time to read social media blogs, marketing blogs, and tech blogs to keep up on what’s happening in the industry. It doesn’t matter if you do this at the beginning of your day, your lunch hour, or during an afternoon coffee break. Make some time to at least scan the headlines so you’re aware of news, updates, stats and what’s next in social media marketing. If you subscribe to these blogs with an RSS reader like Feedly, you can organize them by topic, and quickly scroll through the latest updates.

Not sure what blogs to read? There are a lot of great blogs – and I know I’m missing a few – but here’s some that I suggest (in no particular order):

My blog has now been up for 6 months, and I have to schedule time to work on it. Between my job, my commute, my volunteering, and my social life, there are not enough hours left in a day! Right now, I just can’t post more than once or twice a week. To accomplish that, I schedule office hours for myself a one or two nights a week to write, think of other blog topics, and review my blog and social media stats.

Bookmark all that marketing goodness

The only thing constant about social media marketing is that it changes every day – there’s always new stats, case studies, tools, and news. You won’t remember everything, and that’s OK. Use a social bookmarking site to help you keep track of it all. I use a social bookmarking site called Diigo (it’s also an app!) to bookmark relevant news, posts, stats, studies, infographics, and tools. The great thing about Diigo is that you can tag posts, so if you’re interested in tracking down a post you read that included an infographic on content sharing statistics for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr, you can search your tags in just a few seconds and find it.

This also works for content ideas. If you find a blog post that triggers a topic you want to write about, an article, a photo, a design, or a campaign that inspires you, save it and tag it in Diigo so you can use it later.

Schedule your posts with a calendar

When you walk in to the office or store or wherever it is you work in the morning, you probably aren’t surprised by what’s ahead of you for the day. You have meetings, events, sales, new products, and interesting things on the docket. You’ve been planning these things. So when you’re putting on your social media marketer hat for the day, you’re not walking in with nothing to say. You already have lots of things going on that you can share. As you’re planning them, think about how you can promote them. Make it easy on yourself – create “meetings” for yourself in your Outlook calendar that remind you to create content and post it to whatever social channels you use.

Schedule your posts with a tool

When you know what you want to say, you don’t have to wait to post it. Combine your calendar with social media management systems like HootSuite and TweetDeck (which have free and paid levels) to prepare your posts and schedule them in advance for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more.

What are your tips?

Do you have tips or tools to share? What blogs inspire you? What tools are essential to your marketing? Let me know in the comments!

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3 ways to promote your blog with social media

Stephanie Fielding

Stephanie Fielding

Today’s guest post is from my friend Stephanie Fielding, the fabulous woman behind Sandpaper & Glue.

Hi!

I’m Stephanie from Sandpaper & Glue, a DIY blog centered around first time home owning. I started my blog about a year and a half ago and have since earned a modest following not only on the blog, but on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest as well. Here’s my two cents worth of tips, tricks, and experience:

1. Branding!

It’s strange to think that something as all about you as a blog needs an actual brand, but readers are quick and savvy and fleeting, and it’s important they know it’s YOU when they stumble upon something. Also, everyone uses social media differently and at different frequencies, so the more ways readers have to connect with you the better off you are. Here’s how that’s done:

Keep your names and look consistent

Create a logo or a pattern 

Sandpaper & Glue Logo

  • Put solid thought into what colors, style, patterns are most you - look around your house and at your wardrobe to see what you tend to be drawn to. I recently designed my whole blog for the new year, I created a new pattern for the background and a new header. This then meant I had to create a new thumbnail for my Google Reader and Blogger followers, a new Facebook cover photo (because headers are not the same dimension), new Facebook tab buttons, and a new Twitter background. Whew! (if you need a quick reference for social media photo sizes, check out The Ultimate Social Media Sizing Cheat Sheet)
  • I happen to be handy at Photoshop, but PicMonkey.com is a free photo editing site I highly recommend you check out. Also keep in mind you don’t have to be an artist to create a brand; it can be as simple as picking a color scheme or sticking to a font.
  • Let me step back for a second and address something in that first bullet – create tabs on Facebook that match your brand. This isn’t nearly as difficult as you’d think; this article by Her New Leaf gives you step by step directions on exactly what to do. I made the images for mine in Microsoft Paint, and followed her directions and I had it done in less than an hour – doesn’t get much easier than that! To get my Twitter feed linked up as a tab, I installed this app, then just uploaded a new image. Please email me at SandpaperAndGlue@gmail.com if you need any help with this!

2. Unique content is key! 

Sandpaper & Glue Pinterest Boards

You can’t expect people to follow you around the interwebs if they’re going to see the same thing everywhere they go. Of course you’re going to have some crossover: I have a Project Central board on Pinterest where I pin all my tutorials – but I have lots of other boards I pin to as well. My blog posts automatically link to Twitter, but I mainly use Twitter to talk to other bloggers and reblog cool things they’re up to, and share giveaways they’re hosting. My Facebook page has a Twitter feed tab, and I sometimes put my blog post links as a status, but more often than not I ask questions or share images there.

3. Be yourself!

Pinterest Food Challenge

This one takes a while to figure out. I used to link up to a weekly fashion post about what outfits I wore that week, which was a good way to drive traffic to my blog. But I got bored with that real fast, and when I thought about it, I realized why: I don’t run a fashion blog, and the traffic I got was from readers interested in fashion, so they weren’t going to stick around. That’s when I got a little more clever and created the Pinterest Food Challenge. Once a month I cook something I’ve pinned, then I share the recipe and review it. (Don’t forget to create a logo for anything recurring!) This drives people from Pinterest to my blog, and vice versa. Think about how your social media can work with your blog in an interesting way, but just every once in a while because unique content is key. :)

So there you go – my two cents! I do hope my tips help, and feel free to get in touch with me through the Sandpaper and Glue blog or SandpaperAndGlue@gmail.com if you need any assistance or have any questions!

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