5 Ways to Clone Great Social Media Content

To keep your brand’s social media presence strong, you need to feed it a steady supply of great content every day.

But, coming up with that content doesn’t have to be a major production number.

You likely already have strong content on hand (either on-line somewhere or even stuck in a file cabinet in your office.) Instead of developing new stuff from scratch, riff on/reuse this stockpile of awesomesauce and use it more strategically. This approach can both save you time and energy and ensure that you continue to do a bang-up job meeting your audience’s needs.

Cloning Social Media Content

photo credit: pvera via photopin cc

No need to break out the lab coat to get started. To do some content cloning, you just need to follow these simple tips…

1. Coax new content out of your existing assets.

Some of your preexisting content may naturally lend itself to being source material for new pieces of content. Start by auditing what you have on hand and look for natural points for editorial evolution. Ask yourself, “Could this topic be more fully explored in a different form?” or “Could a different approach tell our brand’s story in a more compelling way?”

Use your analysis, and the answers to your questions, as the jumping off point for creating new content. For example:

  • Sales sheets are natural source material for video tutorials. (Just explain the points on the sheet, but in front of a camera, with a story or two to illustrate them.)
  • Client/customer testimonials are natural source material for Q&A blog posts. (Just contact some of those quotable folks and ask them questions to get them to expand upon their original thoughts.)
  • FAQs on your site are natural source material for Facebook Fan Page posts. (If these are questions your clients/customers naturally have, use them as a jumping off point for real-time troubleshooting or service.)

2. Put your content in a different context/perspective.
If a piece of your preexisting content has resonated with your audience, (use your site/social analytics or crowdsourcing within your social channels to identify which pieces these are) try exploring these same topics in new pieces of content, but from a different vantage point or within a different context.

For example, let’s say you’re an organic food co-op that wrote a popular blog post called “Top 10 Trends in Organic Grocery Store Sales.” Your topics in follow-up posts, videos, podcasts, etc. could be…

  • “Organic Grocers’ Picks for Top Sales Trends” (Looking at the original topic, but from the perspective of grocers.)
  • “Shoppers’ Top Picks in Organic Groceries” (Looking at the original topic, but from the perspective of shoppers.)
  • “Top 10 Emerging Trends in Organic Grocery Sales” (Expanding the context of the original topic — what’s on top — to also cover what trends are waiting in the wings.)
  • “How Organic Grocery Trends Influence Organic Farming.” (Looking at the original topic, but from the perspective of a different industry.)

3. Drill down or spiral off on your content themes.
Similarly, if a piece of your preexisting content has resonated with your audience, consider using it as source material for a more in-depth examination of the topic or to jump off on a sub-topic tangent that will enable you to expand the perception your audience has of your brand.

Using the example above, let’s say your “Top 10 Trends in Organic Grocery Store Sales” blog post identified organic skin care product sales as one of the top trends. Your drill down sub-topics in follow-up posts, videos, podcasts, etc. could be…

  • “Why Organic Over Commercial for Your Skin Care?” (This new focus enables you to now explore the strengths of the products you stock in your store.)
  • “Why Buy Skin Care Products in A Grocery Store?” (This new focus now enables you to describe how you showcase products in your store — such as allowing for testing, samples, etc. — giving a shopper an experience they can’t get online.)
  • “How Does [Name] Co-Op Choose Skin Care Lines? (This new focus now enables you to educate your audience on your store’s rigorous product vetting process.)
  • “Customer Picks For Top Skin Care Products” (This new focus now enables you to reinforce your customer-centric approach to business and showcase testimonials, which can then become additional Q&A posts — see #1.)

4. Approach your content from an opposing vantage point.

Similarly, you could take a popular piece of your preexisting content, and propose a counter argument against it to more fully explore the topic. By moving beyond editorial approaches that are safe and conventional, and holding up a mirror to the good AND bad in your industry, you can help to establish authenticity for your brand.

For example, let’s say that some responses on your “Top 10 Trends in Organic Grocery Store Sales” blog post are from people arguing that organic skin care products are a rip off. Counter argue (or simply acknowledge) those comments in an original piece of follow-up content or perhaps even invite one of the counter-arguers to write the content for you. For example:

  • “Organic Skin Care Products vs. Commercial: What’s the Difference?” (Acknowledging that they both have pluses and minuses.)
  • “Top 5 Most Reputable Organic Skin Care Companies” (Acknowledging that finding a good company takes vetting – which is where your store comes in.)
  • “Buyer Beware: Things to Look Out For on Skin Care Labels” (Giving your customers the tools to make wise buying choices in your store and in other stores, too.)

5. Identify and explore macro trends or theories.

Social media moves incredibly fast. If your brand is consistently active, it will not be too difficult to amass a large library of posts and conversational exchanges, (in addition to long form, more labor-intensive pieces of content, such as blog posts, videos, etc.) in a short period of time.

When you’re looking to do some cloning and expand your content offerings, go back and read through these old posts and look for trends in what you’ve said and what people have said to you in return. (You’d be surprised how few brands do this.) Then develop new content in response. For example:

  • Is your brand continually walking around some topics (e.g. ethics, legal issues) because they make you nervous, in spite of the fact that your audience keeps asking you questions about them? Maybe it’s time to bite the bullet and tackle those topics head on in a way that makes you feel safe.
  • Are some of your brand’s older posts, in retrospect, way off base? Maybe revisit those topics and publicly take yourself to task. Admitting that you’ve made a wrong call can show your audience that, not only are you humble, but also flexible and unafraid of changing your mind.
  • Are there any big insights that jump out at you after reading over six months or a year’s worth of your brand’s posts? (Essentially, “What can you learn from auditing your own brain?”) Maybe write a “year in review” post to share your ah-ha moments (these posts also give you a chance to link back to your old stuff and spread some SEO love.)

There you have it…five different ways to create dozens of new pieces of content from a few pieces of source material. All you need is an eye for detail, an imaginative mind and some good editing skills.

So, fire up your lab equipment, social scientists. It’s time to start cloning.

How do you clone your content? Please leave a comment below!

 

How to Create Different Widgets on Different Pages Using a Plugin

In a previous post My Favorite Things to Use with WordPress Part 2 at the top of my favorite’s list was the plugin Display Widgets. This plugin allows you to display different widgets on different pages, thus allowing you to have custom sidebars on your WordPress site. Today, I am going to show you how to use it.

widget plugin

photo credit: bobbigmac via photopin cc


How to Install the Display Widgets Plugin

1. Login to the dashboard of your WordPress site

2. Locate the plugins area on the left hand side and click “add new”

3. Type Display Widgets in the search box and click search plugins

4. You will then see a list of plugins matching your search. Locate Display Widgets and click “install now”

5. It will ask you if you are sure you want to install this plugin. Click “ok”

6. After it installs you will come to next screen click “activate plugin”

7. Let’s use thing thing!

 

How to use the Display Widgets Plugin

There are no additional settings for this plugin. It is simply plug and play.

1. Go to appearance then widgets

2. Once in your list of widgets, select the widgets you want to only be on a certain page or pages. You can do this by clicking the arrow in the upper right hand side of the widget you select.

3. Once the widget is expanded you will see a new area beneath the normal widget options. The first item to select is “show/hide widgets”. You can either hide a widget on a particular page or only show it on a particular page. I found showing it on a particular page is most effective since the rest of your widgets will show on all pages unless you indicate otherwise. This is of course if you just want to hide a widget on 1 or 2 pages. Up to you.

4. For demonstration purposes I will use “show on checked”. So, select ”show on checked”.

5. Select which page(s) you want that particular widget to show on then click save.

6. If you selected for the widget to only display on the about page, then check it by going to any other page you have widgets and you will see it is not appearing on those pages, just the about page.

That is it. Pretty simple and self-explanatory.

Useful Ways to Use the Plugin

I will use myself as an example since I use this plugin a lot with other clients. In my use of the plugin, I have a lot of services that I offer and I break them up into pages. If you look at the page WordPress design services, you will see in the lower right hand corner it says “Other Services”, and you will see links to WordPress Development and Consulting & Traning. If you go to the WordPress Development page you will see in the same corner WordPress design and Training & Consulting, so that if you go to a particular page it shows other services that I offer but does not include the particular service of the page you are on. This way you can make it look slightly more custom to showcase other services and not have a link to the same page your user is on. It is just a nice touch. To do this, I just set up about 6 widgets and set up my different variations with WordPress design on particular pages and so forth and so on with all the other links. You can of course code this straight into the site using conditional statements, but I’m not above using a plugin and I can easily just go in and edit it and change it. Same applies if you are using this plugin for a client and they want to add more services. It is a nice way for them to edit it themselves. If you want to do additional links and things too an easy way for you or a client would be to just make a custom menu and use the menu widget. That way they do not need to write any html.

How to Grope in the Dark and Find Your Writing Mojo

Wow isn’t there a wealth of information out there on how to write, so many e-courses, e-books and membership sites full of useful shortcuts and advice to help. For many, they’re just an unconscious excuse not to get started. It all lends itself to be a modern form of procrastination.

writing

photo credit: kpwerker via photopin cc

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with taking a writing course to improve your skills. Just make sure it’s one you commit to and are held accountable for turning in assignments.

Writing and putting yourself out there is scary because it lays you bare. It is something of you, wholly produced by you, which allows you nowhere to hide. Harnessing that fear and those nerves are what will fuel you to write some of your most engaging content, but first you need to learn to control your fears.

As a teacher and mentor, it is something I have to help people with a lot. You can check out my thoughts on overcoming these fears on my blog.

As for actually finding your writing mojo, you need to find what suits your natural process. It’s a bit like groping around in the dark for something that you’ve misplaced, but keep searching and you’ll hit upon it. Everyone is different. There’s no right way, but there are many ways. You need to experiment to find the right one.

It’s just like a parent learning how best to get a baby off to sleep. Some need music, some need constant motion – driving around, rocking or pushing in their strollers and some need total silence, whilst others need human contact. Each one has their own needs in order to achieve the same results.

Writing is the same – you need to find the routines and environments that suit you best. Once you’ve found your groove, you’re consistently practising, and exercising your writing muscle you’ll be able to train yourself to write almost anywhere.

Just remember that we’re all very different people and we all have very different ways of doing things. Certain hacks in life work for some, but not for others. Generalizations are nonsense and can lead you up the garden path. For instance, egg timers are useful, especially editing in my case, but they don’t suit everyone. If you don’t work well under pressure they can be your worst nightmare not conducive to writing.

What I’m saying is don’t set yourself up to fail. Don’t try and make yourself do it one way just because someone has told you that it’s the right way to do it. There simply isn’t a right way!

Have a go at writing on the train, bus, in the lunchroom, at the park, in the car, in bed, on the sofa, in the garden, on the balcony, at the beach, in the kitchen, in a café and even at your desk. You don’t need a computer to write, try pen and paper, a laptop, voice to text,  your smartphone, or a tablet. In fact, technology is never my first port of call, all my drafts start as the written word on good old-fashioned paper!

Anything goes, do it your way. Get started and you’ll get it done. How have you found your writing flow and where do you find it easiest to write? Share your experiences in the comments sections.

 

 

I LOVE My Website (Part 1 of 7)

Every business owner wants to say, “I love my website!” Thankfully many do, but sadly some don’t. On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate your website love?

what to love for your website

In my experience with clients, and in talking with numerous business owners, I’ve narrowed down 7 things you need to love in order to truly love your website. You need to love how it looks, love the way it works, love its ability to serve your business, love how secure it is, love using it and love how much your visitors love it. You also need to LOVE your website designer!

Part 1 – Love how it looks

Professional Design

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” -Steve Jobs. When I was choosing a name for my web design company I choose ArtSci Designs to reflect both sides of professional design.

I had some fun trying to turn it in to a dictionary definition.

ArtSci (art-see) adjective
1. the state of being in which a thing is simultaneously appealing to the visual senses and fully effective in it’s technical aspect
2
. harmonious fusion of creativity and organization
3. fun and functional
Origin: 21st Century Geek.

Here are a few things to ask yourself, or your website designer: Is my website designed to work well with all modern browsers? Are we using table-less design with well coded html and CSS styling? Does the overall design work well with the page content? This list could go on and on.

Your Company Logo

Can you picture the logos of these companies? Apple, Nike, Bank of America, UPS, Amazon, PayPal and WordPress? These companies have logos that we remember. Does your company have a memorable logo or signature graphic? Developing one is not an easy task, and if you need help with this there are some great logo design companies who can assist you.

Color Theory 101

website colour“Color is so powerful – it creates emotional impact, makes your designs more memorable and even makes a statement about what your brand stands for.” – Erin Ferree, Brand Style Design.

Whether you are simply adding colored text to an image or creating a new color scheme for your brand or website, a better understanding of color theory and the importance of color will serve you well.

Does your business “own” a color? When we think about the companies above with memorable logos, we can also envision the colors used in their branding.

I think the emotional impact that color can make is fascinating! Here is a short list of colors and feelings associated with them. We all have our favorite colors when it comes to home decor or how we dress, and it is important to consider more than personal preference when selecting business colors. You can read more about the meaning of color at the Color Wheel Pro website.

  • Red: Passion, Love, Anger
  • Orange: Energy, Happiness, Vitality
  • Yellow: Happiness, Hope, Deceit
  • Green: New Beginnings, Abundance, Nature
  • Blue: Calm, Responsible, Sadness
  • Purple: Creativity, Royalty, Wealth
  • Black: Mystery, Elegance, Evil
  • Gray: Moody, Conservative, Formality
  • White: Purity, Cleanliness, Virtue
  • Brown: Nature, Wholesomeness, Dependability
  • Tan or Beige: Conservative, Piety, Dull
  • Cream or Ivory: Calm, Elegant, Purity

A Match Made in Heaven

Have you ever known someone who was color-blind, or with little fashion sense, who just couldn’t seem to put the right colors together? The human eye seems to just “know” when certain colors look right together.

From Art 101, you may recall the color wheel. Harmonious color schemes are those where the colors are equally spaced around it. You don’t have to guess which colors to use together. There is a mathematically relationship between those that “belong together.” I think it’s really awesome how so many colors found together in nature are also a perfect match mathematically.

Thankfully, we don’t have to pull out our calculators or actually “do math” here because there are several free, fun and easy to use tools online that do the hard work for us. Many of them will help you develop a perfect color scheme from either a starter color or an image. Here are some of my favorites:

Cheri’s Short List of Online Color Tools

Images and Graphics

A webpage with some images on it is certainly more interesting to look at than one that’s simply text. If a picture is “worth a thousand words,” then we need to be sure those 1000 words are saying the right thing. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing images for your website.

  • Tone – Know when to use serious, playful or humorous ones.
  • Uniqueness – Be careful with stock images. Customize them.
  • Relevance – Make sure that your image supports your written content.
  • Audience – Choose images your website visitors can relate to.
  • Image Rights – Always check licensing information.

Sources for stock images:

Font and Typography

website typographyThe day my family came home and found me watching a movie on Netflix called “Helvetica” that I was totally enjoying was one of those days that confirmed that I really am a geek!

Earlier this year Smashing Magazine published an article called, “Typography Guidelines And References” that compiled several of their posts on this topic. If you want to learn more, I suggest reading it. Or, you could watch “Helvetica” and post a movie review!

One of the biggest things to keep in mind is not to mix and match fonts. Choose one font you will use consistently across your website. A common exception to this rule is using different fonts for page titles and headlines.

If you haven’t explored Google fonts yet, check them out! They are “easy” to add to your website and open up a whole new realm of possibility. Caution: these can take as much time playing with as the color scheme tools.

Website Love…

My goal at the end of all web design projects is for our clients to say, “Wow, Cheri, I LOVE my website!” If you aren’t feeling enough website love, we’d be glad to help you. The first step is to request a Website Checkup.

What do you love about the look of your website? Please leave a comment below!

Promotion Methods that Attract more Eyeballs to your Blog

The meta description and keywords are in place.  The tags and featured image are all set.  You’ve completed your post and hit publish.  You’re all done, right?  Wrong.  You’ve spent the time to research and write a post, but you’re not going to promote? Without promotion, your post will inevitably be stuck in mud.  Too many people make this mistake.  You can see it in the number of shares, or lack thereof.  After publishing, it’s time for the icing. It’s time to promote your post.

Don’t be shy.  Use these promotion methods to get the traffic you deserve.  Be the first one to share your post to each social network.  This is perfectly acceptable as long as it’s a small percentage of your overall messaging output.  Make sure your share buttons are prominent and relative.  Make it easy for your readers to share with their audience.

Twitter – This is arguably the most important method to promote your post.  It’s the most common way to share.  If you look at just about any post out there with share button counters you’ll find that Twitter generally leads the way.  The other key reason to use Twitter is because you can continue to tweet your current and previous posts moving forward.  You can’t do that with any other network. If you’re sending out 50 tweets a day, 5-8 tweets promoting your own post certainly works.  That’s 35-56 a week, every week.  Mix it up with 1-2 Hashtags.  Find a level that you’re comfortable with and that makes sense.

Facebook: Personal and Fan Pages – You should share on both your personal and business Facebook Pages.  Ask your friends and fans to share if they enjoy the post.  It’s a small request, but it can go a long way over the course of a year.  There are also sharing groups on Facebook where members share each other’s posts.  Search for these groups on Facebook, and ask to be invited.

LinkedIn – You may need to be cautious with this one.  Posting your personal blog, or another’s blog post might be dicey if it is not relative to your company’s business or vertical.  Yes, it’s your LinkedIn account, but just use your head before posting.  If you do post, you should additionally send to any relative groups.  LinkedIn gives you that option when posting.  This increases the chances of being viewed and shared.

Google Plus – The last of the Big Four.  If you don’t have an account, get one today.  Google Plus is important for many reasons.  Share your post on Google Plus through your button and mix in 1-3 Hashtags as desired.

Shutterstock Promotion Methods

“Promotion”

Pinterest – A must share button for DIY blogs, cooking, shopping, fashion, etc.  It’s probably not a bad idea to have this share button available to your readers no matter what your topic.  This network has seen good traffic and interest.

StumbleUpon – SU is the no respect network.  While the visit durations tend to be lower from SU visitors, you can see some nice pops from time to time.  It is highly suggested to create the first share with StumbleUpon or it will likely remain at 0.  It’s worth the two minutes.

Triberr – This isn’t a direct way to share from your post, but it’s a powerful network.  Triberr is a community-building platform for bloggers.  Bloggers form tribes and reciprocate sharing. While Twitter is the most popular network within Triberr, you can also share via Facebook and LinkedIn.

E-Mail – Sending out posts to your E-mail list subscribers.  If you’re posting more than two times a week you should think about sending a summary highlighting multiple posts within one e-mail.  You can either provide a portion of the blog with link that takes them to your site, or provide the entire blog in the e-mail with share buttons.  Again, ask your readers to share the post if they find it interesting.

Honorable Mention: Reddit, Digg, Scoop.It, Empire Avenue, and Topsy

The amount time you spend in each of these networks communicating and building relationships will affect the success of your post.  Most of the networks above also provide paid advertising if you’re looking for an additional traffic boost.

Please share the post if you found it to be interesting and helpful.

 

Don’t Be a Turkey! How to Compensate Independent Contractors Fairly

It’s Thanksgiving week, and people everywhere are talking turkey. Business owners probably are thinking more about the spread that day than issues like fair pay. But fair compensation is a hot button topic as businesses like Walmart and Hostess face issues with their unions and paying benefits fairly.

Turkeys aren’t the brightest of birds; otherwise we wouldn’t eat them every holiday. It’s not good to be compared to a turkey, but unfortunately, some business owners are “turkeys” when it comes to paying fair rates. How can you avoid being a “turkey” when it comes to hiring independent contractors with your business? Here are a few ways!

Turkey Contractors Compensation

Do Your Research

When you’re looking to pay an independent contractor for copywriting, blogging or other services, make sure you do your research on what rates are fair. This might vary if you decide to hire a new indie compared to a seasoned contractor, but knowing the baseline can help you determine if you’re paying a fair rate.

It’s also important for contractors to avoid being “turkeys,” too! Know the fair rates for your work and avoid getting duped. You might do this through your own research, through talking with other professionals, or through analyzing your current rates to see if they are fair for the work you’re doing.

If you’re not sure where to start, look for fee sheets on various websites. Organizations like the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) provide a rate sheet on their website, so look for these and rates on individual contractor websites for more information. Some contractors do not post rates, but you can ask them and they may provide them if you are serious about hiring them.

Consider Your Budget

Some business owners become “turkeys” when they plan to outsource work, but don’t analyze their budget to see if they can afford it. They might have numerous projects in mind for the contractor, but the money runs out quickly because they haven’t planned.

You must consider how often you plan to employ the contractor and if your budget is realistic for the work you want. If you find yourself running out of money before the project is done, then you haven’t planned well enough for the work or may have gone outside of the scope of the work, which would result in more fees.

Discuss Rates with Your Contractor

The most important way to avoid becoming a “turkey” is to talk in-depth with your contractor about their rates and what you expect from the project. They may provide you a range or a fixed rate for the project, and some contractors prefer to use hourly rates.

Depending on your relationship with the contractor, you may have them on retainer and pay as projects come in, or have a new contract for each project. I have done both with clients and they work out well for both parties!

What are your tips for paying fair rates to contractors? Tell us in the comments!

Do You Blog Like Charlie Brown?

I recently wrote a post about what to do when you get writer’s block. Through the comments on the post itself and over Twitter, I’ve seen lot’s of ways people deal with the same situation. That got me to thinking of one of my favorite songs from my childhood. “Book Report” from You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. If you have not seen it, click here.  The song explores how four of the main characters attack the same homework assignment in very different ways.

Charlie Brown – Charlie Brown knows he needs to get his homework done, but he keeps putting it off. He is a classic procrastinator. I know I have a touch of classic Charlie Brown in my blogging style, I always think that I work better under pressure, this is not the case.

If you are a classic procrastinator, try and find ways to help yourself get out of the rut. Schedule a little time every day to get some writing done and just keep chugging along when you can. (I started this post yesterday when I had some downtime, and I’ll probably finish it tomorrow.)

Lucy VanPelt  – (One of my life’s personal heroes by the way) wants nothing to do with writing her book report. She counts every word to hit the bare minimum and most of her words were very, very, very ,very ,very – unhelpful.

What Lucy could do, is find a way to express herself in a format she enjoys. If you are a classic “Lucy” and do not enjoy blogging or writing but still want to get your message out, look for a different way to do it. A visual person might want to start making infographics. Are you a talker? Express yourself with video blogging.

Linus VanPelt -  Linus is a very conscientious researcher but he lets his research take over and go off into tangents and analogies that don’t quite make sense.

Don’t let your research take over your theme. If you start out with a topic that gets lost once you start putting words to paper (as it were) maybe the initial topic is not what you want to write about. Keep going into the direction of the research and make changes and tweaks accordingly.

Schroeder - Schroeder takes the subject and tries to find a way to explain it in a way that he finds the most entertaining. Using an analogy is a great way to explain things to people in a way that helps them understand new ideas in a familiar way.

I am a classic Schroeder, some of my most popular posts have used this method to compare social media and blogging to pop culture. Shoot – that is the basis of this post itself!

While I am sure there are 100 different variations of each listed above, every author is different. The point of this post is to get you to try to find your writing style. Once you find it, learn the best way to work with your type to best accentuate your posts.

Where do you fall into this scale? What is your Peanuts writing style?