Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Google+ Tips and Tricks: 8 Blog Posts I Found Useful




I've begun to test the waters in Google+, and while I disagree with some out there who feel this platform could eventually replace Facebook and Twitter (I just don't think the average user is going to spend the time sorting out "Circles" and "Hangouts," for example), I do like the fluidity of the Stream structure it offers, and the availability to easily share links and open up chats. There is, as some have noticed, some redundancy and confusion in the Circles, which I think Google will need to refine down the line. Will I always take the trouble to share info with one Circle vs another, for example? What if my relationships change over time...will I take the time to drag and drop folks to reflect these changes? Not sure, but I also know that while I was one of the early adapters to Facebooks List feature, which allows you to create categories for new friends, I rarely use this tool except as an initial organizer.

In the meantime, I've received so many great overviews in my inbox and through searches this week, that I thought I'd share my top 10 here with you. I'm also sharing my profile link here.

Good luck with Google+, and feel free to share your favorite tips posts here.

1. Mashable: 10 Hints and Tricks for New Users
2. Flyte Blog: Managing Your Privacy Settings
3. Copyblogger: Is Google Plus the Ultimate Content Marketing Platform?
4. Pamorama: 25 Google Plus Resources
5. Bill Handy: How to Search Google Plus
6. Simply Zesty: 10 Awesome Video Tips
7. PC World, 8 Quick Tips and Tricks
8. Blogging Bookshelf: 61 Google Plus Tips, Thoughts, and Requests

Final note: in reviewing many of these posts, the overall verdict seems to be positive, with the majority of users viewing Google Plus as a welcome change from Facebook, and a more streamlined user experience. I agree that integration with YouTube needs to happen, and the default photo uploads from Picasa were something of a shock for me when I reviewed my own profile, as I pretty much forgotten about Picasa and had relied on Facebook and Flickr! Anyone else?



Caroline Jaffe Pickett, @carriewriter

Monday, July 25, 2011

PR and Social Media Go Together, If You Give Them A Chance




During the course of the last year or two, I've met many public relations specialists. I've written press releases for some, and for others, I've handled media outreach and story pitching. In nearly every instance, social media was an afterthought. They either didn't "get it," or they didn't think it was important, and it surprised me that I had to deliberately bring social media up, as if it hadn't been the fastest growing phenomenon since sliced bread.

"I don't like Twitter," I heard a lot. Or even worse, "my client doesn't like Twitter." "Facebook is too confusing," I heard. Or, "I don't know how to do video."

Sometimes, I heard the opposite comment, that pr firms expected social media to transform their lives, and provide instant results for their clients.

Wrong mindset! Social media is used to build online community and brand. It can be about selling eventually, but people buy from those they know and trust, and that can take a while. Not only that, but if your audience senses you're trying trying to sell to them too quickly, or they haven't gotten enough value from their connection, they're going to sign off and tune out.

Social media can best be used to enhance the public relations activities you already have going on, much in the same way it's used to enhance traditional marketing. Think of it as the dressing on your salad!

Here are a few tips on how to enhance your pr efforts with social media, for press releases and events specifically.

1. 0n the press release, include not only your client's website, but any of their social media profiles. If they don't have any yet, set up a Twitter profile at the very least, and start following relevant people or organizations of interest. You can also use Twitter to set up a hashtag for your event or news, which will help establish a social media online "trail."

2. Make sure to include the Share button on your release, to make it that much easier to spread the information.

3. Research bloggers who might be interested in covering your product or event, and reach out to them individually, with specific pitch letters that show you are familiar with their posts. Don't send out a generic note--they will ignore it. (I know that as a blogger, I have always responded to pitch letters that were specifically addressed to me, and that got to the point quickly, typically in the first paragraph.)

4.Graphics always enhance and liven up your releases, so include photos in the body of your release, with a link to your Flickr set, if you have one. Press releases with video and YouTube links have been proven to get more traction then those without, so take every opportunity to add multimedia when you can.

5. In order to build buzz, try introducing a social media contest in the weeks before an event, where your community can earn a prize or a discount by retweeting or sharing your information. You can award the winner at your live event. Encourage social media posting during the event to build online brand, as well as SEO.

6.Use your own company blog if you have one, to publish your release and info about your event, and use SEO techniques to heighten your online visibility. A strategically written blog post may also contain links to other companies and individuals, who will ultimately see that you linked to them, thus increasing your brand awareness. This recently happened to me on a blog post I had republished as a result of Peter Falk (Columbo's) death. I had linked to Radian6, and their community manager saw the mention and retweeted my post!

These are just some of the ways you can integrate social media with PR tools. Please post in the comments if you have any other experiences or ideas.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Build and Design a Microsite With Flavors.me




I've been exploring various Splash page, or About Me, sites over the last week or so, and one of my favorites so far is flavors.me. I read about this program in Mashable, and was inspired to give it a try. I was impressed with how user-friendly this program is, and its highly customized features. I created this page on the screenshot you see here in about 20 minutes on my iPad, and plan to tweak and embellish on my computer, as I need the upload functionality for that. I also still need to add my bio, which doesn't appear to work on the iPad.

The free version of this program offers plenty for those just wanting a test run, including 4 social media profile links, some dynamic template designs, as well as layout and type size selection. One of the standout features is that when users click on your social media profiles, they get a pop up of your live stream, and not just the profile link.

The premium version is $20 a year, and includes features I think are well worth it, such as a Contact form, nearly 20 profile links, real-time stats, and more custom design features. Premium users also get included in the Directory listing, and while this seems like a good idea, I don't know the page views on this, so it remains to be seen. I also don't know the SEO of this site versus other competitors, such as About.Me, although I noted that a metadata optimized SEO feature is included in the premium version.

If you consider that the premium version could almost replace a full website, the price is fair, and the usability is straightforward.

I briefly tried out About.me as well, and while I liked the interface, I was surprised it did not allow users to type custom titles for an added URL. In other words, the program defaults to the web page title, which may not be the content you want to focus on.

Has anyone else explored various About Me sites? Please leave a comment or a link to your favorites!



Friday, July 15, 2011

Blogging on the iPad 2 with BlogPress: Part 3 - Formatting Text

Welcome everyone, and happy Friday! OK, I'm advance publishing here, so I'm just thinking Friday ahead of time...In the earlier videos this week, I showed how to upload photos both using the live camera feature in BlogPress, as well as accessing your iPad media library. I also showed how to tag your posts, as well as schedule them in advance.

So here's my 3rd and final post of this video series, and I've got two videos here that illustrate how to format the text when you're blogging in BlogPress. One shows how to change the color of the text, and the other illustrates the hyperlinking function.

I hope you enjoyed the videos, and feel free to comment here on your adventures in blogging, either on the iPad or iPad 2. I look forward to comparing notes with you.




Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Blogging on the iPad 2 with BlogPress: Part 2 - Live Photos, Tagging, and Scheduling



Welcome back, everyone. In Monday's video, I showed a bit about how to upload a photo from your iPad2 media library. In this video, I show how to take a photo using the Blogpress camera icon, resize it, and upload it into your post.

The video below shows how to tag your blog posts, as well as use the advance scheduler. A nice feature here is that all your previous tags automatically come up, and you can scroll through them and click onto any of them that are relevant for your current post. Be sure not to click the "Clear" key, or you will delete the tags. Also, although there is a Category option listed, the functionality still does not exist to include categories, so if you click on that option, nothing will happen.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Blogging on the iPad 2 with BlogPress - 3 Part Video Series



Over the last few weeks, I've been experimenting with several blogging programs on the iPad2, and wanted to focus first off on one that seems simplest to use, and that's BlogPress. This App is available for $2.99 at the Apps online store, and is fairly intuitive for the most part. On the plus side, there are many easy to use and find features, such as Preview mode, and photo uploads both from your media library and the photo icon that comes with the program, enabling you to embed live photos into your post. The formatting text functionality is a bit old-fashioned, with a pop up menu that automates the HTML code you need for bold, italic, hyperlinks, block text, and others-- but it still does the trick, and the preview mode allows you to check and make sure you've formatted correctly.

In the videos, I focus first on the photo embed feature, second on the tags and scheduling function, and third on the text formatting. I hope you enjoy the series, and please feel free to comment here on your experience blogging on the iPad or iPad 2. Blog on!

Oh, I almost forgot...thanks to the kind folks at Blekko, a search engine group that's one of the fastest rising tech companies in Silicon Valley. (I've been experimenting with Blekko, too, and will get to that shortly in another post. ) I won the iPad2 from them at this spring's Web 2.0 conference, and have been so thrilled. So thanks again.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Hubspot Offers Great Content Reinvention Ideas



Hubspot's recent blog post featuring tips on repurposing content had some creative and inspiring ideas. When planning content, essentially the idea is to choose a concept that will have a broad appeal for your audience, and then the framework, or modalities, that will work best. Can your e-book, for example, be easily converted into a white paper or a report? How about a video or slide show? How about breaking up the chapters as separate blog posts that you can publish in a series, or a course that can be divided into sections?

Think about a variety of publication options for your content, in addition to the obvious ones, such as your blog. If you have a weekly or monthly newsletter, you can repurpose your content there. You can also try e-zines, and other article marketing and cloud sites, such as Box.net, Scribd, Google docs, Docstoc, and Amazon Cloud, a new cloud storage site for photos and documents that holds up to 5 GB. Consider a change of formats, such as podcasts for audio versions, or Slideshare for a presentation style display.

For those of you thinking about writing an e-book but feeling somewhat overwhelmed at the prospect, review some of the content you have already produced, and see if you can find any unifying themes or frameworks that would provide a publishing foundation. For example, last year I really wanted to write an e-book on Twitter, and I realized in sorting through my blog, that I had over a dozen posts about Twitter already written. Of course, when I organized the publication of 6 Degrees of Twitteration, I updated the posts and added plenty of new text as well, knowing that so many new Twitter apps had come on the scene. Don't forget that there are specific formatting issues that go along with e-books that you need to keep in mind, such as the treatment of graphics, including a table of contents, formatting for mobile, and other issues.

Remarkablogger Michael Martine offers great resources over at over on his website, and when he writes, "How to Write an E-Book That Doesn't Suck," he means it! He also has great tips for creating impressive looking cover art.

If you need any more inspiration, check out the video above and enjoy these very inspiring marketing quotes. My favorite is: "Passion comes before money."

What's your favorite marketing quote from the video?




Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Google Plus: You Had Me at "Online Demo"






I just started reviewing the online tour of Google Plus today, and the basic new features look great -- they include Circles, Hangouts, Instant Upload, Sparks, and Huddle -- all ways to deepen community interaction with titles, in case you didn't notice, that might sound like a list of futuristic kids names! So what am I excited about? I was super impressed with the way the tour was presented.

I couldn't try out the features real-time yet since I'm not one of the selected beta users (I did put myself on the list to be "next,"), so I focused on the style of the online tour, which features pop-up bubbles that include embedded YouTube videos for each one, groovy acoustic music, and appealing, slightly grainy voices that encompass all demographics: yes, ALL...including the twenty something power user who likes boredom as a creative boost, as well as the Baby Boomer wanting to reconnect with friends because, hey "you never know..." (Reminiscent of the "Dollar and a Dream" campaign for the New York City lottery, but we'll leave that for a separate discussion.)

The neat pop up "bubbles" reminded me of the interactive displays at museums, where you press a button and you get your own little viewing screen. I liked how you felt like you were in your own world, but could get a feel for connecting to someone else's "bubble," so to speak. And you don't even have to jump over to YouTube. Nice.

So whatever happens with Google Plus (we all know Buzz didn't exactly take off - I ended up deleting it and stuck to Twitter), I'm now excited both about the demo and the program launch.

So Google, you can invite me, I'm ready!

PS The "Instant Upload" is my first feature of choice to hone in on when it's ready. I know it's going to be a timesaver, and is totally in tune with the latest Cloud invasion, and for those who are getting tired of having to plug in USB cables all the time, this is for us.