4 Tools to Maximize Your Hashtag Strategy


Hashtags are widely used on Twitter and especially so on Instagram.  But how does a person know which ones to use?  Here are four of my favorite tools to find and analyze the effectiveness of the hashtags we use.


With this tool, you can search for hashtag trends, popularity and correlations.  You would type in a hashtag, click on search and find the hashtags popularity, recent popularity, and if it's trending up or down.  You would also receive a list of related hashtags and some influencers within that hashtag's demographic.
There's also a section that provides you with the most popular hashtags for a period of time.
For personal use, it's $9.00 per month but comes with a free trial.


Ritetag is a Chrome extension that works by adding a little widget to the bottom of your screen. You can either type in a hashtag and get suggestions of what other ones to use or you can right-click on an image on a page and it will give you suggestions based on real-time hashtag engagement. 

It is accompanied by an app which provides trending hashtags (if you can take advantage of a trending hashtag and jump in with an appropriate post, it's great, but be sure to check what the hashtag is really about!) , statistics, images and influencers who use the hashtag. 

There are free and paid version of Ritetag but the paid version is currently a one-time fee. 

Display Purposes Only

Funny name, but a fairly good tool. With Display Purposes Only, you type a couple of hashtags in the search bar and it will provide you with similar tags. What I like about it is that  it has a little slide bar so that you can request anywhere from 1 to 30. Once they populate you are able to copy them and paste into your post. It will also allow you to manually select which tags you want to use before you hit copy.  If you're wanting to hide your hashtags within your image comment, you can select to check the "Five Dots" box and they will be added to your copy/paste. 

Display Purposes is free to use.


You can find this tool in your Facebook Messenger app (seriously).  You simply send them an image and it auto-populates with a group of hashtags befitting the image. This is a great one for Instagram because Instagram's A.I. is now examing images and may penalize those who post random tags that don't seem to fit with the image (that's a whole other story).

Autohash is free to use.

Bonus: Iconosquare

I couldn't really discuss hashtags tools without including Iconosquare which does have a hashtag component but also does a whole lot more.  But only Iconosquare’s higher-price tiers (Elite package and above) include hashtag analysis. Iconosquare can measure engagement for hashtags you use in your posts and assess the growth of branded hashtags but it doesn't really offer hashtag suggestions per se.

Pricing begins at $9.00 a month for a single account.

So that's it!  Let me know if you have used any of these and if you have a particular favorite!


How To Change the "Subscribe to List" Button on Mailchimp

One of the more important goals in social media marketing is to grow your email list. There is a saying that the money is in the list. While I don't necessarily believe you need to have a huge email list in order to have success on-line, I do believe that email is a great way to communicate with your current and potential customers. This is permission-based marketing. Your "list" has given you permission to market to them.

 MailChimp is one example of an email marketing platform. It could be a good option for you if you are just beginning to grow your email list.  The forms are easy to create and add to your website or even Facebook. People can easily fill in the form, click on a button and receive whatever goodie you have gifted to them.  However, MailChimp's default text for its email opt-in button says "Subscribe to List" which is far from exciting to anyone considering leaving their name and email address. There is a way to change this to something a little more compelling such as "Send Me the Checklist" or "I'm ready to hear more". 

The video below from Larry Kelso, walks you through just how to do that.  Let me know if you have any questions.


Influencer Marketing and The Oprah Magazine

In the January issue of my Oprah magazine, I saw that they were accepting applications to be an O Magazine Insider so I thought why not, I'll give it a shot. Just this past week, I found out that I was selected to be one of just 50 who were chosen from more than a thousand applications!

It's a year long term (like Miss America!) I'm not exactly sure what kind of adventure we're on, but I'm excited! We'll be working with the editors on influencer campaigns, reviewing products, attending events (online or offline....I'm not sure), "having our voice heard by millions" and other items TBD. We have our own Facebook group and there are some pretty cool people in it!

I have been a part of other influencer campaigns and I have sought out influencers for my clients' businesses but oh my goodness, this is for O Magazine!  

So what is an influencer, exactly? Influencer marketing is the application of using people and platforms to drive a brand's message to a targeted audience.  An influencer can be a person, a website or a social media platform. Generally speaking, we use the term influencer to refer to a person who has influence over an audience of some type. In social media, this could mean a person who has a large numbers of followers on a certain platform or who may even have a small number of followers but whose followers are very engaged. 

For businesses, influencers can be free (think raving fans) or can cost anywhere from $1.00 to tens of thousands of dollars per campaign. A business could create their own campaign to find influencers, just as The Oprah Magazine did, or they can purchase their services from influencer agencies, from platforms such as Fiverr or straight from the particular influencer.

Have you thought about using an influencer campaign for your own business?  Please let me know if you have any questions. I'd be happy to help.


December Flash Sale - Facebook Page Creation and/or Optimization

Every business needs a Facebook page!

Facebook is not always THE perfect platform for every business but every business should have one and at the very least, keep it updated.  There are 2 reasons for this: one is that when people are looking to connect with a business, they generally check Facebook (because they're there) and the second reason is because of the opportunities found in Facebook's targeted advertising.

Is your Facebook page optimized and up-to-date? Do you have an appealing banner and profile photo? Did you know that you now have the option to choose different Facebook page themes based on your type of business? Have you chosen the best one?

For a very limited time, I'm offering optimization (or creation and optimization) of your Facebook page for just $75.00!  That even includes a custom page banner AND one call-to-action button! I have never offered this service at such a low price before (and may not ever do it again).  This is your chance to get your page looking great, and to have all important information available to your potential customers.

What you get:

  • Custom banner
  • Optimize "About" section
  • Create one call-to-action button

Start the new year right!  Purchase now! (First come, first served!)


Facebook Page Creation/Optimization - $75.00

My Favorite Planner Can Be Yours Too!

Can you believe that we are already half-way through the month of July?! That means that it's time to pre-order our 2017 planners.

If you're anything like me, you take your planner everywhere, especially networking events. Whenever I take this planner, I'm constantly asked to show it to one person or another. (We all seem fascinated with planners these days.)

When I first started using a planner, I created it myself from a spiral notebook and index cards. Thankfully planners are now commonplace and come in lots of designs and sizes. 

My favorite planner is the iBloom Life and Business Planner. It's definitely a feminine version and is both functional AND beautiful.  Designed for the Christian woman, it also has inspirational scripture verses for each week.  You can order it pre-printed or you can also order the printable version.

Here are the specifics of the physical version:

  • 2-year at-a-glance yearly calendar pages
  • A beginning of the year check-in to help you make time for the people and things that matter most
  • Holiday planning pages with a calendar of dates and room for gift ideas and ways to serve
  • Beginning of the year check-in to help with goal-setting and planning for the upcoming year.
  • A place to create your vision board. Use these pages to create a collage of images, pictures, and affirmations to remind you of your dreams and goals.
  • Business vision and goals pages for planning your annual projects and income goals
  • Monthly calendar with room for notes, goals, gratitude lists, and inspiration
  • Weekly pages with space for project planning, to-do lists, weekly goals, healthy living, and a scripture
  • A mid-year check-in where you can re-evaluate goals, priorities, and track your progress
  • Lined note pages to jot down your aha moments and great ideas for the year
  • Blank note pages for doodles, images that inspire, and your visual thought process
  • Spiral bound is 9X11 and the printable version is 8 1/2 X 11.
  • Exclusive to the Spiral Bound: Printed on high quality paper that doesn't bleed, the spiral is durable {and double clamped}. It has a 10ml laminated cover {double the weight of past years}, beautiful monthly tabs, and a pocket to store those extra papers.

    Rumor has it that there's also going to be a planner accessory pack with stickers, bookmark, and other goodies, available for purchase. 

They currently offer two versions - the spiral bound that is 9 X 11 and the printable version that is 8 1/2 X 11. Some printers will allow you to adjust the settings for the printable version, so it will print on a half-sheet of paper. 

When you order the spiral-bound, you will also receive the PDF to the printable version AND if you pre-order, you will also receive the printable version of the 2016 July through December planner.

You can find more about it here. 

Facebook Livestreaming Goes Live for Everyone

In his own livestream this morning, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook Livestream is now available for all users.  This is exciting for many reasons. We all know that people come to facebook to connect with friends and family, to be entertained and to share experiences. As Mark stated, "people want to express what's going on in their lives".  People can now share live video from their smartphone to other people all around the world. The livestreams are saved to your desktop so that those who weren't on your livestream, can still view the video later.

So what does this have to do with marketing?  Well, Facebook livestream has been available to most pages for awhile now, but the personal livestreams will offer a few more valuable options. Users will be able to share to their Facebook groups and to events. So for instance, if you work in the direct sales industry and hold an online party, you will now be able to livestream right into your event. You'll be able to demonstrate your product better and field questions straight from the livestream.  If you manage a group, you'll be able to livestream to your group members as well so cool possibilities exist for coaches and program creators. 

Right now,  and not surprisingly, livestream video has a much better organic reach than recorded video (which had a much better reach than images, links or texts).

There will be two ways to access the livestream option. One is through the livestream tab on your Facebook mobile app, which not everyone has. (Here you'll be able to catch the "live around the world" feed, as well. 

The second way is to go to your newsfeed on your mobile app, click on status and click on the icon of a person with halos around them (as below).


Once you do that, you'll see the screen below. After you click on "continue", you'll be prompted to add a title to your video. Give it a catchy one.  Once your title is added, you'll tap "go live", you'll get a 3,2,1 countdown and then you're live... so start speaking!

The video will automatically save to your timeline but you can choose to upload a better quality video and you can also choose to save the video to your camera roll. 

Mark Zuckerberg stated that they would be rolling out a bunch of fun filters to the options starting today, such as Ironman masks, animal faces, etc. 

Here are some things to consider when doing live video:

1. Create a catchy title.

2. Introduce yourself. Even if you're just livestreaming to a group of people who already know you, get in the habit of introcuding yourself so that you can repurpose your content to other viewers later on.

3. Give a brief description of what you'll be covering so that people know what to expect.

4. Keep your discussion to just 3 or 4 points. People get bored easily and you don't want to ramble on all day. Get to the point or as Chalene Johnson would say "be brief, be bright and be gone". 

5. Have a call to action. Why are you doing the video? What would you like your viewers to do next? 

6. Don't over-share.  Livestream at the most once a day. People are just not THAT into you that they need to see you several times a day. But as with any platform you choose, be consistent.

Have you tried livestreaming yet?  I'd love to hear about your experience.



Stay Up-to-date with these 10 Social Media Platform Changes


Several platforms rolled out changes this week. Here's a quick run-down on some of them.


The "Log In As Your Page" option has been disappearing and will soon be gone for good. We can still do the things we did before (viewing the feeds of the pages we liked, commenting and liking other page posts, etc.) but we just need to do it differently. It's alittle more cumbersome but just like all other Facebook changes, we'll get used to it.

In this video, Grandma Mary (Andrea Vahl), shows us how:


For the full story, read Andrea's article here.

Pinterest has several new updates.

How-to Pins: this is exciting for pInterest users because DIY pins will soon be able to show a snapshot of the project directions right below the pin image. I'll be curious to see how this affects bloggers as Pinterest users may not even need to click over to the website anymore. If you'd like to try this option for your DIY website, you can request it here.

Universal Pin Descriptions: Pins now have description that are automatically created using a variety of sources instead of the note from the original pinner. This can be good or bad. The good: repinning becomes easier because you don't need to recreate a description. The bad: your pin descriptions may not carry through when others repin.

(Rich Pins will stil carry the original title and metadescription that appears so you may want to apply for rich pins very soon.)

Also, if you have Rich Pins, there will be a change to their descriptions in order to make them less redundant. Their descriptions will now be hidden in the feeds because Rich Pins already have a title and short description attached. Check your website's metadata to make sure the best title and description are showing up.

Repin counts: Pinterest now counts likes and repins for a piece of content throughout all of Pinterest instead of just for a specific pin. Tis should encourage Pinterest users to not rely on just one popular pin for social proof and to provide consistent value to other PInterest users.

Change in aspect ratio The maximum aspect ratio for Pins will be reduced from 1:3.5 to 1:2.8. This means that anything taller than that will be cut off so you'll need to adjust your image sizes accordingly.

White will now be the background color on the app so Pinterest will now add a bit of gray to those images that are mostly white. If you have images with drop shadows, this might affect you.


The algorhithm - lots of Instagram users panicked and began posting images with reminders to "turn on post notifications" so that Instagram users would not miss their posts. I can see why - we all know what happened on Facebook. I don't think we need to panic. If one of your followers really didn't want to miss one of your updates, they would have turned them on already. 

Instagram stated The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.”  –

Longer videos and the ability to make videos from multiple clips on your iOs camera. Videos can now be 60 seconds long. Of course, the longer videos will be excellent for advertisers, as well.

The ability to view notifications on the Instagram desktop version - YAY!  You'll find these under the heart icon on the upper right of the page. You can also now delete comments very easily.


The Explore Tab is also now viewable on desktop. You'll find it to the left of the notifications icon (as above). The explore tab is great for finding new people to follow. You'll notice that as you like on comment on certain Instagram posts, more of the same will show up in your Explore feed.

Social media is an ever-changing, always expanding media experience. It's important to keep up with the changes in order to maximize your opportunity on your chosen  platforms.  Sign up for our newsletter so that you can stay up-to-date.




Which Social Network is the Best Use of Your Advertising Dollars?

The first published ad appeared in the Boston Herald in 1704. It was a listing advertising a piece of property for sale.

Advertsing evolved from newspapers to phone books, to direct mail and to radio and television ads.  Along came the internet and the introduction of banner ads, spam e-mail, and pop-up ads.  

When Google took over, things calmed down a bit with the advent of adwords.  And more recently, much to our chagrin, advertising has become available on many of the social media platforms.  

In this article, I'm going to provide an overview of the ad opportunities on 6 of themajor platforms: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram.


With over 300 million active users, Twitter is a great platform to consider when advertising.

Campaign objectives:

  • Increase engagement on tweets - likes, retweets, replies

  • website clicks or conversions

  • app installs or app engagements

  • video views

  • increase followers

lead generation

On Twitter, you can target based on location, gender, hashtags, interests and followers of other people (perhaps a competitor or an influencer).  The types of interests are not as specific as they might be. 

Cost of ads - $0.75 - $2.00 per click or new follower


Last year, in just the third quarter alone, Facebook mobile advertising brought in over 3.4 billion in revenue. Facebook advertising is huge.

Campaign Objectives:

   On Facebook:

  • grow page likes

  • get responses to a Facebook event

  • watch a video

  • install an app

  • claim an offer

  • lead generation (mobile placement only)

       Off Facebook:  

  • send people to your website

  • send people to your website (with some extra conversion measurements)

    Cost: $0.15 - $2.00 depending upon campaign


LinkedIn advertsing is more expensive but produces more qualified leads.


  • Create an ad

  • sponsored content - only available from company pages

You can target based on job title, niche groups, demographics and location.

Cost: $2.00 - $8.00 per click



Pinterest advertising is only available to those with a business account. It's easy to convert a personal account to a business account, so if you're interested in advertising, you may want to do that.

Campaign Objectives:  

  • impressions

  • engagement - likes, comments, repins

  • conversions - must add a snippet of code to your website

You are able to target by keywords and demographics.

Cost: $0.25 - $1.00 or more per click.

*Video advertising is coming soon.


You Tube

You Tube has over a billion monthly active users and is owned by Google so it's definitely a good option when considering advertsing.


  • in stream - plays before or during a video. Viewers can skip the video after 5 seconds. You pay only if 30 seconds of your video were watched.

  • in slate - viewers are offered a choice of ads to watch. If yours is selected, you're charged. These appear in videos that are longer than 10 minutes.

  • in search - theses videos show up at the top right corner of the screen with suggested videos. You pay when viewers watch.

  • in display - these videos are embedded content on other sites. You pay when the ad is watched. 

These ads are slightly more complex to set up. You can target by interest, demographics and keywords. 

Cost: $0.05 - $2.00



Instagram is the newest of thelarger platforms to offer advertising to the public and is managed through the Facebook Ads Manager.

They are displayed in the user's Instagram feed and are the only posts that have a clickable link within the post. 

Campaign options:

  • link to website or page

  • install or engage with an app

  • learn more

Targeting is similar to Facebook ad targeting.

You are able to advertise on Instagram without an Instagram account. You must have a Facebook page though.  If you don't have an account, you will be able to see the comments and likes, but you will not be able to interact with the people who leave those comments.

*Do NOT include Instagram as an option when setting up a Facebook ad. Instagram ads should be done separately. The image size is different and the cost per click will be more expensive when combined with a Facebook ad.


Which site is best to use?  Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my target audience there?

  • Do I have a presence there?

  • Is the platform in my budget?

  • Do I have a strategy for lead generation via that platform?


Have you tried advertising on any of the social platforms?  What has been your experience?  If you have any tips, I'd love to hear them.  Comment below.

Image credit: DepositPhotos.com

Quick Tip for Managing Multiple Instagram Accounts

Quick tip.jpg

Instagram has recently made it easier to manage multiple Instagram accounts, but each Instagram account still requires a separate e-mail address.  And if your business has different locations, or different departments that need their own account, this becomes difficult in a hurry! This is also the case with Twitter accounts.

There are 2 easy ways to get around that problem by using the alias feature in a gmail account.

The first way is by using the alias address feature in your Gmail account. This will allow you to set up multiple e-mail addresses that will go to the same e-mail inbox. *The one caveat is that you’ll still only be able to sign up for a limited number of accounts via one device (i.e. desktop, laptop, tablet, etc.).

The first thing you’ll need is a gmail account. If you don’t have one, you can go to mail.google.com to set one up. If you already have a gmail account, you can use that.

As an example, I’ll use my TheSocialWebbClientCare@gmail.com account. (Hopefully, you have a gmail account with less letters!) And let’s say that I want to set up an Instagram account for a restaraunt called The Purple Cow. The Purple Cow has locations (in my imagination) in Newport Beach, Anaheim Hills and Laguna Seca and each will have their own Instagram account.

Because each Instagram account (and each Twitter account) requires a different e-mail address, we’ll use an alias address for each. I could use TheSocialWebbClientCare+CowNB@gmail.com for one and TheSocialWebbClientCare+CowAH@gmail.com for another and so on.

You can add whatever you want as the +as long as it’s after your usual gmail name and before the @gmail.com. You could just stop here and still recieve e-mail but it’s best to set this address up as an alias in your gmail account so that you can manage it better.

To set this up, go to your gmail account. Next go to settings and then Accounts and Import. Click on “Add anther email address you own”. In the second box, put your gmailaccount name (in my case, that would be “thesocialwebbclientcare” and then add +(whatever name you choose) and then @gmail.com. There should be no spaces (as you’ll see in the example below). The “Treat as an alias” box should be checked. Then click on “Next Step”.




And that’s it! You can now use this address to sign up for a social account and still have all email come to one inbox.

The second way is by adding a dot (.) anywhere in the username and all emails address to that new alias will still reach your mailbox. For instance, if your original email address is TheSocialWebbClientCare@gmail.com, any emails sent to The.SocialWebbClientCare@gmail.com or TheSocial.WebbClientCare@gmail.com will land in your mailbox because Gmails ignores periods in the email username.  Of course, you need to be sure to keep track of which dot placement you used for each account.  And again, you can only sign up for so many Instagram or Twitter accounts per any one device.

I hope this helps.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

6 IFTTT Recipes to Save You Time and Increase Effectiveness

As you know, social media management can eat up a big chunk of your business day even when you are mindful of your time.  So when there are tools available to help save you time, why wouldn’t you use them?

Here are 6 IFTTT recipes that will save time and increase your effectiveness on social media. They are very easy to set-up. (For more information on IFTTT see this article: IFTTT –Possibly My Favorite New Toy)


When you post an image on Instagram, you can hit the Twitter share button to send it to Twitter. Doing it from the app causes it to appear as a link on Twitter and not an image. A better way to do this is to use the following recipe that allows the image to appear as native on Twitter.  True images get more engagement.


Because some folks are noticing that some of their Instagram images are disappearing and some social media accounts are being hacked, it’s a good idea to keep a back-up of your Instagram images. If you use Dropbox, you can use this recipe to automatically save any image that you post to Instagram into your Dropbox. (Find that recipe here.)


Automated Twitter List Building

Frankly, I think Twitter lists are a necessary evil.  They are time-consuming but necessary in order to quiet a lot of the noise on Twitter.  Here are 3 automated ways to build your lists.

The first is to build a Twitter list from a specific hashtag.  So for instance, let’s say that you are a participant in a weekly chat. You could use that hashtag (ex. #BufferChat) to build a list of all its participants.  You could also build a list of those attending a certain event by utilizing the event hashtag to build it.  (You can use this recipe more than once and you can find it here.)





You could also build a list of people whose tweets you have favorited.  When I find someone that I want to remember but don’t have time right at that moment to add them to a particular list, I just favorite one of their tweets. This adds them to the “Tweets I’ve Favorited” list so that I can go back later and place them into a more suitable list. (Here’s the recipe for this action.)

Another way to create a Twitter list is by adding users who @mention you.  If they have taken the time to mention you, you’ll want to keep them on your radar as a possible connection or conversation. (You’ll find this one here.)

IFTTT t @mention.PNG

Curating Content

Pocket is a great place to store articles to read later or to share with your audience.  This recipe will send the articles that you favorite on Pocket straight to Buffer to be sent to your social media platforms at an optimal time.  This is a huge time-saver! (There is a Chrome extension for Pocket so that whenever you find an article of interest on the web, you can save it in your Pocket. If you use Feedly to curate your content, you can send to Pocket from there, as well.) Here’s the recipe to do this.


These are my favorites for use on social media. Do you have any favs of your own?  I’d love to hear about them.


How and Why to Set Up Two Factor Authentification For Your Gmail Account

I explained in this article that social media accounts (no matter the fan/follower amounts) were being kidnapped by hackers and held for ransom and how it could ruin your online presence.

One of the ways to prevent this from happening is by using 2-factor authentification for your e-mail and social media profiles. Yes, it requires an additional step, but it’s worth the extra effort to protect your social media accounts and your personal information.

What is 2-factor authentification?

According to Dr. Dan Manson, professor of computer information systems at Cal Poly Pomona and host of The CyberFed Show, a 2-factor authentification contains 2 of these 3 items: something you know, something you have and something you are.

  • something you know = a password or PIN
  • something you have = a card or an e-mail address or a log-in or a phone
  • something you are = a fingerprint or a retina scan or proof of I.D.

Dr. Manson feels that security questions are not really a 2-factor authentification because these answers can be learned or guessed.  This is precisely what social engineers (hackers) are doing to get into your accounts: guessing answers to your security questions.

G-mail offers 2-factor authentification by combining something you know (your password) with something you have (your phone). With 2-step verification, you’ll get a short numeric code (verification code) on your phone (mobile or landline). You’ll then enter this code in addition to your username and password (even on your laptop or desktop). (If you wish, you can set it so that you will only be asked for your verification code on that device every 30 days.)

To set up 2-factor authentification, go to your settings page (or go here) on your G-mail account and click “using 2-step verification”.  Next, click “set up 2-step verification”. Follow the directions that you see on your screen in order to set up the 2-step verification code option. You have the option to receive a text message or a voice-call to your landline or mobile device or you can use the Google authenticator app on your Android, Blackberry or iPhone.

You will also set up 2 back-up options for receiving verification codes in case  your phone is lost or stolen.

Go and do this now, while it’s still fresh in your mind! Is it perfect? No. But it MAY save you hours, weeks, even years of trouble down the road!

Other places where you can (and should) set up 2-step authentification are:

  • Evernote
  • Dropbox
  • Apple iCloud
  • Google Drive
  • One Drive
  • Most banks (although not Wells Fargo)
  • Amazon web services
  • Google cloud platform
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Basecamp
  • Campfire
  • Mailchimp
  • Hipchat is working on it
  • SalesForce
  • Outlook.com
  • Yahoo Mail
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • (For a continuously updated list, check this site.)

Are You Protecting Your Social Media Investments From Hackers?

Late last week the Instagram account of Base Body Babes was hacked and 765 carefully captioned images disappeared before their very eyes. The new “owner” of the account changed their name, deleted their images and began posting their own images with a kidnapped audience of 559,000 followers. They are not the only victims of hijacked Instagram accounts.

Fitness expert, Chalene Johnson had her Instagram account with over 400.000 followers hacked, as well. They were also in control of her Twitter account and literally began taunting her on it and telling her that they were now in contol. (There is much more to her story but the FBI is currently involved so much of it is not being shared yet.)

This is not just happening to those with large follower and fan bases. It is happening to small business owners, as well. These so-called “social engineers” are hacking accounts and extorting fees from the owners of accounts in exchange for transfer of ownership back to the original owner. They feel that small businesses will pay the fees and won’t go to the police. They also feel that small business owners don’t know enough about technology to be able to fix the problem themselves.  All these social engineers need is just ONE password to get into your e-mail account in order to be able to attack ALL your social media accounts.  You may feel confident about being secure because you think that you have a pretty safe and not likely-to-be-guessed password but that’s where you’re wrong. They’re not guessing passwords; they’re guessing answers to your security questions. They are able to guess these answers by watching your social media sites!

This is a crime that has reached epidemic proportions. Facebook reports that over 600,000 accounts are compromised EVERY day.  47% of Americans have had their personal information compromised.

Protecting your personal information is incredibly important but in this article, I’m only referring to your social media investments. How long and how much work has it taken you to grow your accounts? How much content do you have stored on your accounts (think about all those images on Instagram and/or Pinterest)? How many connections are made available to you by having these accounts and what would you do if they suddenly disappeared (This is one reason why having an e-mail list is so important)?

No one can be completely safe but there are things you can do to protect your investment. These items will take you some time to set up but they are worth the effort and time expenditure and may help to prevent the loss of years of work.

1. Update your software on ALL devices: your PC, your blog plug-ins, your tablet, your laptops, your Kindle or similar devices, your smart phones, etc.  Don’t forget to update the outdated devices that you have lying around to use as spares.

Adobe Flash is a very important one to consider. But do NOT update when the pop-up appears – it may be a scam and that may be exactly how you become vulnerable.  Go to their website to update and set up auto-updates.

“Update all of your apps! While some updates are improvements, most of the updates are security patches. Be sure to update as soon as available.

Update all of your apps! Most app updates are security patches and can help to thwart hackers.


2. Get a password manager and install it on all devices.

A password manager is like an online wallet for your valuable information. Create a strong initial password for this one and you must remember your password to this application because it is not stored.

According to Wikipedia “Password managers usually store passwords encrypted, requiring the user to create a master password; a single, ideally very strong password which grants the user access to their entire password database. Some password managers store passwords on the user’s computer, whereas others store data in the cloud. While the core functionality of a password manager is to securely store large collections of passwords, many provide additional features such as form filling and password generation.”

Password managers also have browser extensions for FireFox, Chrome and Safari.

DISABLE the auto-fill for passwords. Use your password manager’s browser extension instead.

Some to consider are LastPass1Password, KeepPass, and Roboform

*After you install your password manager, update all your passwords with unique passwords generated by your app.  Also, update your security questions with more unique passwords generated by your app because real answers to security questions increase your chances of being hacked!

3. If you have an iPhone 6 or above, set up the Apple fingerprint!  (Android will be adding this feature soon.)

4. Do not choose the “log in with your Facebook account” or “log in as Twitter” options. Be sure to log in using your password manager.

5. Take a look at your e-mail service. Is it as safe as it could be?  Perhaps Hotmail (is that even around anymore) or Yahoo are not the safest options. Gmail has 2 factor authentication so it is more reliable.

6. Check your cloud storage (iCloud, Dropbox, Evernote, etc.)  Cloud storage sites have an increasing number of hacks.

Enable 2-step authentication for these – require a code in addition to your password.

7. Phone – Turn off the apps you don’t need.

Apps are great but they are security risks. Delete the ones that you don’t need. (I am SO guilty of keeping too many apps on my phone. Deleting the unused ones has become a priority.)

8. Facebook and Twitter – sign up for 2-factor authentification.  (The one drawback for this is that if you ever change your phone number, it’s a hassle to have it changed, but probably less of a hassle than the things that would have to be done after a cyber hack.)

Instagram is very susceptible to being hacked so be sure to use your password manager when signing in.

9. Set up an IFTTT recipe to have your Instagram images automatically sent and saved in your Dropbox. You can find that here  You could also use Instaport to save all your Instagram images to your hard drive.

10. Check your Facebook privacy settings and determine what is the most amount of privacy you could opt for without damaging your social engagement and reach.

11. Consider using SocialSafe to back up your social media date. At $27.99 per year for 20 accounts, it’s extremely inexpensive and easy to manage.

12.  Messaging – Use a messaging service that supports encryption such as iMessage for Apple or What’s App for iOs, Android, Blackberry and Windows phone.

*Did you know?

On Apple: blue bubbles = iMessage which is encrypted and secure

                   green bubbles = SMS text which is not secure

I hope that you’ll take this threat to your social media investment seriously and begin to put some, if not all, of these precautions in place.  And if you have any other suggestions as to ways that we can all protect our online selves better, I’d love to hear.

*For further information, check out Chalene Johnson’s podcast series on how she was hacked and what she has learned.  iTunes: Chalene Johnson: Build Your Tribe – episodes from June 9, 12, 15, 17 and 19 of 2015.

IFTTT - The Best way to Share Instagram Photos on Twitter

Images receive much more engagement than text. We all know that to be true and studies have proven it to be true on all social platforms.

When you post a pic to Instagram, you have the option to then share it to Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr and/or Twitter. Sharing to Facebook works fairly well because Facebook owns Instagram. But when you share a photo to Twitter, it appears on your Twitter feed as a link, not a full image.  As you know, links require an additional click and folks may not want to take the time to click on the link to view your photo. Therefore, it’s important to put the image right in front of your followers’ faces. You  can do this by using an IFTTT recipe.

The one that I use was created by DJuiceman in July of 2013. 129,000 people are currently using this recipe. (This particular recipe will  automatically share every image you add to Instagram directly to your Twitter account, so if you don’t want all your images going to Twitter then be sure to select a different recipe. There are several available.) You can find them by going to IFTTT.com and searching for “Instagram to Twitter” recipes. (You’ll need to create an account in order to use the recipe but the recipe is free to use and easy to set up.)  You just select “add this recipe” and the app will walk you through the rest of the procedure.  If  you need more information on how to use IFTTT.com, see this post – http://onthewebbsocialmedia.com/ifttt-possibly-my-favorite-new-toy/.

Let me know how it works for you.

Image credit: DepositPhotos.com


Meerkat and Periscope: A Comparison

Both the Meerkat and Periscope apps are now a few months old (Meerkat was released at the end of February just in time to steal the show at the South by southwest event in Austin, Texas while Periscope was released at the end of March ) and both have been going strong.  Who will win the live-streaming battle for top player remains to be seen though.  There are pros and cons to each app.

Before I launch into a comparison, let’s answer the question What is Live-Streaming?

Live-streaming is simply streaming content live over the internet.  Live-streaming isn’t new but the ability to do it so easily by using one of these two apps is what is new.  There are so many ways that businesses and solo-preneurs can utilize these apps that it almost boggles the mind (more on that later)! Now for the comparison.


Meerkat was the first app to offer live-streaming to Twitter.  In fact, Twitter tried to buy it early on but was unsuccessful.

It has a clean and simple interface with only a few options available. (I’m sure that more will be added as the app develops.) Essentially you can sign in with Twitter and leave your profile alone. Your options are to search for people you’d like to follow or to see the leader board.  You can choose to automatically end a tweet with #meerkat… or not. You cannot also connect to your Facebook page. If you choose to do that, your scheduling and streaming will post to your page.

As with Periscope, your video stream appears on Twitter immediately.  When you watch a live-stream, you are able to comment and see comments from other people. You are also able to retweet. I like the comment thread on Meerkat because it takes up less space than on Periscope so you’ll able to see the presenter easier.  I also like that you can scroll back and see previous comments so you don’t lose track of the conversation.  (You cannot do that on Periscope.) You’ll also see the avatars of folks in the livestream going across the top of the stream. If you click on those thumbnails, you’ll be able to see their Twitter profiles but you can’t follow them from the app.

A great thing about Meerkat is that you have the option to schedule a broadcast in a 24 hour window and to add a featured image. Hashtags and keywords can be included. When a livestream is scheduled, the event will show up in the app feed and a tweet will be sent out. If a person subscribes to an upcoming stream, they will receive a notification from the app when the stream is live.

Another very positive feature is that a call-to-action with a live URL can be added to the end of a livestream.

One of the more negative aspects is that it’s difficult to find folks to follow. They do provide suggestions but if you’re trying to connect with folks that you are already connected to on Twitter, it’s a bit tedious.

Because Meerkat is gamification-based, there is a leaderboard. The way to move up on the leaderboard is to have more people watching, more minutes of streamed video and more comments than the person below you (rumor has it).  This keeps users (broadcasters) engaged and encourages them to broadcast more often. However, that could also be a negative because it takes so much time to get on the leaderboard – folks will run out of valuable things to say and their content might suffer. A positive is that this might also be another way to find people to follow. In fact, this was the method I first used.

A new development is that streamers AND viewers now get points for interactions.

When both apps first launched, there seemed to be some “haters” who loved to invade a livestream and leave negative comments. That seems to have diminished (in fact, I haven’t seen any for quite awhile). There  is the option to report a spammer or to report a livestream itself as inappropriate.

On Meerkat, you can’t watch a finished broadcast but you can save the recording to your phone. If it was your own broadcast, you would then have the ability to edit and use snippets of the stream in another context such as the Instagram 15 second feed.  * Brian Fanzo tells me that if you use the Katch app you can have it automatically recorded. @Katchapp says this: “Record Meerkats with one tweet! The #katch hashtag sends you an automagic YouTube link when the stream ends. (Processing time varies).”

Meerkat Positives

  • Can schedule a live-stream 24 hours ahead and have it “announced”
  • The gamification makes it a bit more interesting and easy to find folks who live-stream often
  • Can place a call-to-action at the end of a live-stream with a URL
  • Possibly a bit easier to use (good for newbie lurkers)
  • Can use the Katch app to auto-record and then be able to save to device

Meerkat Negatives

  • Difficult to connect with your Twitter connections
  • Live-stream is not available to be watched later unless you auto-record it with the Katch app
  • It has no floating hearts (I know, I know; some could care less.)


Periscope is owned by Twitter so it has a few more options because of the api.

It is also fairly easy to use both as a viewer and as a broadcaster.

You sign in with your twitter account and your bio is loaded BUT… you can change it. And just this week, Periscope made the links in the bio clickable so be sure to add a link to your bio to where you’d most like your viewers to connect with you more.

You are able to find and follow  your twitter connections more easily but I have to say that in my case, certainly not all of them were within easy reach.  Apparently you can only follow 200 at a time, but every time you log out and log back in, you can follow 200 more. You can browse other viewers watching a stream though and easily add them to your follow list on the app. You can also see THEIR network and follow those folks too.

The thumbnails of the viewers are NOT shown across the top of the livestream as in Meerkat but when they comment, you will see their avatars in a color-shaded square on the left side of the screen. Comments are not pushed to Twitter.

One of the negatives of Periscope is that the comments take up a lot of room and can take away much of the visual. That could be a big detriment to some businesses depending upon what they are presenting. In Periscope, old comments cannot be retrieved which might be problematic for the presenter who is already busy trying to multi-task and not miss any comments.

Of course, one of my favorite parts of Periscope are the floating hearts on the right side of the livestream that signify the viewers giving love to the presenter. Viewers can do that by tapping on their screen and the color of their hearts are the same color as their avatar square. (I have not figured out how to actually select the color I want for my avatar square. If anyone finds a way to do that, let me know! I want pink or turquoise, of course.) One possibly negative side of this is that some broadcasters are begging for hearts (akin to begging for likes and follows_ – don’t do that.

One of the positives about Periscope is that livestreams are available to be seen for 24 hours so if you miss a live session, you have some time to catch it.  AND the livestreams are now available to be watched on the web! So if your phone battery dies (like mine often does), you can still watch on the web.

Another cool feature with Periscope is that you can have private live-streams.  In order to do this, the people that you’d like in your private livestream must follow you. You would then tap on the follower(s) that would want to include. Paid memberships, group chats or client meetings would be ways to  utilize this feature.

Like Meerkat, Periscope  has a reporting feature for those livestreams that are inappropriate.  You can also limit the ability to comment on your livestream to only those who follow you on Twitter.

Unlike Meerkat, you cannot pre-schedule a livestream (I bet that changes soon), nor can you leave a call-to-action at the end of your livestream (I bet that will change too but the ability to have a clickable link in your bio is good in the meantime.)

Periscope DOES provide post-stream statistics for the broadcasters though.


Periscope Positives:

  • Can find Twitter connections easily
  • Can have private broadcasts
  • Videos can be watched for 24 hours after live-stream finishes
  • Videos can be watched on the web
  • Links in Bios are clickable
  • Has post-stream statistics

Periscope Negatives

  • Does not allow scheduling
  • Does not allow a call-to-action at the end
  • Comments distract from the presenter


Why consider using Meerkat or Periscope?

You can easily connect with your audience in real-time!

We’ll discuss ways to utilize each of these apps in the second article of the series.

Have you tried either app? What are your thoughts?  Have I missed anything?

Image credit: DepositPhotos.com

11 Quick Tips For Double-Tap Worthy Instagram Photos

As the Instagram platform becomes even more popular and more photos are being shared, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand out amidst all the great images.  If you want some extra attention, you may need to step up your game.  Here are11 tips to ensure that your images are worth the double-tap!  (Some of these are directly-related to the iphone but most are generic.)

1Turn off the flash.

It’s not that powerful and can sometimes ruin the image that you think you are capturing.  Some folks advise that using the flash during day time is a good way to capture detail but I don’t find it to be effective.

2. Don’t use the zoom.

As with most smart phones, the zoom on the iPhone is a digital zoom, not an optical zoom. That means that the more you zoom into your image, the more blurry it will become. If you want a closer shot, you need to use your feet.

3. Reduce clutter.

Each of your photos should have a subject. There can be more than one but there should only be one main subject. If you can’t easily find that subject in your image, then you have too much clutter in the photo. Rearrange your shot to get rid of some of the clutter.

Simple photos do better on social media, perhaps because of the size of the screen they are being viewed on or because of the attention span of the viewer.

4. Snap your photo with the volume button on the side of your phone rather than using the dot on the screen.

This will help to eliminate any movement caused by pushing directly on the screen and will help to maintain focus. Both the volume up and volume down button can be used for this.

5. Shoot in square mode.

Because Instagram images are square, shooting in this mode will give you the exact image that will be shown on Instagram. The “square” mode is to the right of “photo”.

6.  Shoot from the level of your subject.

If you are capturing images of pets or small children, shoot from their level for a more realistic and interesting view.

7.  Remember the rule of thirds.

The rule of thirds applies to composition of the photograph. Basically, you break an image into thirds both horizontally and vertically so that you end up with 9 boxes (like a tic-tac-toe board).

The premise is that this grid now identifies four important parts of the image that you should consider placing points of interest as you are framing your photograph. A person’s eye usually goes towards one of the intersection points rather than the middle of an image.

Simply stated, don’t put your subject in the middle (either horizontally or vertically). Putting it off to one side will make a much more interesting image. Of course, rules are made to be broken, so there will always be exceptions.

You can add a “rule-of-third” grid on the iphone by going to “settings” ~~> Photos and Camera ~~> Grid (turn the button to green).

8. Take silhouette photos.

Silhouette images are often much more intriguing than regular images, perhaps because they are a bit mystical.  You can easily capture silhouettes by shooting against the source of light. Place your subject directly in front of the light source (or hide the sun directly behind the subject). Sunrise and sunset are the best times to capture this type of image.



9. Include long shadows in your compositions. Shadows are more prominent in photos than in real life and can make for an attractive visual.  Again, in this image, only the shadows are visible.


You can create the shadows by hiding the sun behind your subject.  Play around with this idea and see what you can come up with.

You can also increase shadows by increasing the contrast when you are editing an image.

10. Shoot your images from a different angle.


Whenever I'm feeling down, I just look up.

Whenever I'm feeling down, I just look up.

Show the world as people are not used to seeing it by changing the perspective. Consider a very low angle by getting your camera as close to the ground as possible or get down low and point up towards the sky.


11. Clean the camera lens!

That’s pretty obvious but we often forget to do it.

Play around with some of these techniques and let me know if you find any of them helpful.  If you’re on Instagram, let’s connect!  You can find me at Instagram.com/ShelleyWebb.

Image credit: Top and bottom two - Shelley Webb
                       All others: DepositPhotos.com


14 Places To Share Your Newest Blog Post

As website owners, we’re always happy to complete an article for our blog. It’s a way to provide a service to our community by sharing quality information. It’s also a way to bring readers to our website.  But our community won’t derive any value from our content unless they read it and they won’t be able to read it if they aren’t aware of it.

That’s why writing a blog post is just the beginning.  Now it’s time to get the word out. So how do we do that?


1.  Share to your social media platforms.

Once you’ve published an article on your blog, you’ll want to share its link to your social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook (personal [if appropriate] and business), Linked in, Google+, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc., depending upon which social media sites you are utilizing.  I would recommend setting up a Google+ account and posting your blogs there just for the search capabilities alone. Other people might argue with me about this, but I think it’s worth the effort.  (For help setting up your Google+ account, I have a very inexpensive and easy-to-follow training here.)

When using Pinterest, be sure to choose a compelling image to attach to your article so that it will receive more attention.

Don’t forget to share in your appropriate social media “groups”, as well.

2. Publish on LinkedIn

Publishing directly to LinkedIn is another way to get in front of a different audience. Published posts become part of your LinkedIn professional profile and help to position you as an expert. With this process, you have the ability to reach one of the largest groups of professionals ever assembled.

3. Set up a tweet ring.

By using a service like TwitterFeed, you and a few like-minded friends can automatically share each other’s new blog posts to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more. You simply add their RSS feed to the platform and it takes over from there.  You can hook this into your bit.ly account in order to keep track of the link shares.

4.Join Social Buzz Club

Somewhat like a twibe or a tweet ring, members share each other’s content via a gamification process which brings knowledge of your article to a whole new set of people.  For more information about Social Buzz Club, go HERE.

5. Join Triberr

Triberr is a platform consisting of tribes.  A “tribe” is a group of people (typically bloggers) organized into like groups and committed to sharing each other’s content. So for instance, if you were a food blogger, you would join a tribe of other food bloggers.  When you follow the tribe, their newly published blog posts show up in your stream so that, if you want to, you can share their content with your community members.  They have the opportunity to share yours.

6.  Submit your articles toquality article directories.

Article directories such as EzineArticles.com are great places to submit your articles. Here they will be found by people searching for specific subjects.  They may even be reposted, and credited to you by using the bio and URL that you post in your author box.  Ask around to find the best article directories for your niche.

7. Consider publishing directly to Medium

Medium takes a bit of experimentation to see which articles work best, but it is yet another way to sprinkle your content across the internet. Medium articles seem a bit more artistic and thought-provoking than many business articles.

Remember to add a call to action at the end of your article but on Medium, your CTA should be much softer than on other platforms.

8. Make a Slide Share

If you can turn your blog post into a slide share, it would be beneficial to post to this platform. It is currently under-utilized and thus, a good slide share has the potential to reach a large audience and receive a significant share of attention.

9. Comment on other blogs.

In order to make blog readers aware of you and your blog, comment on blogs that are related to yours.  Position yourself as the expert by providing additional great content.  Be sure to register on a site that will enable your photo and information to show up when you post a response.  Gravitar.com is one that will work with most WordPress blogs.  There is also http://disqus.com/ (blogs using Disqus use this). Blogger.com and IntenseDebate.com are 2 others to consider.


10.  Revive Old Posts (formerly Tweet Old Posts)

There is an application called Revive Old Posts  that will randomly select an article from your website and share it to your followers via Twitter, Facebookand Linkedin.  It’s easy to set up and you can choose how often you want to share.  Every 3-4 hours would be fine but you’ll want to be sure that you have enough articles posted on your blog so that the same ones aren’t being shared over and over.  The one problem I see with this method is that some posts aren’t evergreen and as such, they may not make sense when shared later.

11.  Participate in blog challenges.

Generally a blog challenge compels you to write a certain number of blog posts in a certain amount of time. The community usually shares each other’s blog posts on social media sites. By participating in a blog challenge, you get accountability, motivation and reciprocity.

12. Share it in your newsletter.

Some people choose to share their article in their newsletter before publishing on their blog. This is to reward subscribers by sharing new content with them first. Whether you choose to share before publishing or after, a newsletter is a great way to get your article in front of your community.

13. Create a mini-podcast.

Could your blog article be turned into a mini podcast? Because your community may prefer to digest information in a different way (audio vs. visual), create a podcast and publish it to iTunes.

14.  Create tips Extract tips from your blog posts to share on Twitter. Add the appropriate hashtag in order to get in front of community members who could benefit from your content.

Making a blog stand out can result in higher traffic, dedicated readers and ultimately more purchasers of your products and services.  So remember: once you’ve written your blog post, your work is not complete until you’ve followed at least some of the steps above.

Image credit: DepositPhotos.com

What The Professional Photographer Needs to Know About Social Media

In the not-too-distant past, photographers were able to rely on their photography to speak for them in order to create their success and although there was competition, it was not as fierce as it is now. Due in large part to the ability to enter the marketplace with less expense, the availability of high-functioning digital options, more simplified editing software, and the ease of establishing a website, the competition is huge. Becoming a published and successful photographer in the modern age no longer requires just the ability to take amazing shots. It also requires that you be able to market yourself in the right ways to develop contacts that will pass your name along to companies and clients in need of your expertise.

A recent article in the “Notes From a Rep’s Journal” blog by Heather Elder mentions that in 2015, photographers who participate in their own marketing will be the ones who are the most successful.

“Photographers that are committed to their marketing plans, engage in their own networking, have a strong voice on social media, utilize blogs and other websites to promote themselves and are engaged in the estimating process fully are the ones who are the busiest.” ~Heather Elder, photographer rep

Accomplishing this marketing is best done by utilizing all the tools that available.  There are portfolio reviews to attend, e-mail promotions, snail-mail promotions, interviews, website updates, blogs, and networking events to attend. One of our photographers shared that she learned to play golf in order to network . Another states that he pays monthly in order to remain on the first page of Google.

Social media is another marketing option and in this article, we are going to concentrate on its benefits to the professional photographer.

Why Are Social Platforms Excellent for Freelance Photographers?

Basically, social networking is successful because of two things: people’s desire to connect and their desire to be entertained.  Social media allows people to connect with one another, and to share what has entertained them (in the case of their children and pets, perhaps too often, but I digress)

People also are visual. They love images. This makes social networks ideal for sharing your work and building your reputation as a quality photographer.

Before I lose you, let’s address the elephant in the room:  yes, there is a possibility that your images may be lifted. Even when protections are put into place, that possibility exists. There are ways to obtain images from websites even when the right-click is disabled and there are ways to remove watermarks.  But because of the competition, it’s a chance that needs to be taken.  Don’t be careless but don’t be so protective of your work that you cut off your nose to spite your face.  Watermark your images. Most social networks have mechanisms in place that will allow you to report theft. This will result in the offending person’s images being removed in most cases.

You can publish your photos on social networks and quickly develop a following that allows you to prove to potential clients that their target demographic enjoys your work. You may even be able to find a way to become featured on one of the larger community “hubs” that republish awe-inspiring photographs with the proper attribution.

It’s also not just about your work, it’s about you. In 2015, it’s less about the photography than about the photographer. Social media allows you to showcase your personality, your vision, and your talents, as well as your work.

The Social Networks You Should Use as a Freelance Photographer

The best approach to take when establishing your presence on social networks is to take a broad one. You want your name on as many of the social networks that you can handle, as this will allow you to best grow a more generalized audience for your work.  It’s best to try to acquire a standard name across all the social networks so that friends from one platform will recognize you on another.  If you feel that participating on all social networks is just too much, at least try to claim your name and fill out your profiles completely. You never know who will be looking at your work.

“I look at a lot of work online. I have about a thousand bookmarks that I try to randomly browse through when things are quiet at work. I like to keep up with what some of my favorite photographers are shooting, but by choosing bookmarks at random I tend to rediscover people whose work I admire but for whatever reason have not stayed top of mind. It’s good to refresh my mental list of who is working on what out there; there are so many people making great work and I want to work with them all!” ~Genevieve Dellinger, Art Producer at 72 & Sunny

If you find that one or two networks produce better results, then you should focus on driving interaction with the followers you have on those networks without forgetting about the other ones. One of the keys is interaction. Showcase your work but do engage in conversation, as well. Below is a brief list of the social networks you might choose to use as a photographer.

1. Google+

When Google+ first entered the scene, it was one of the most popular social networks among photographers and artists. They said that there images looked better on Google+ (Facebook and Twitter’s images were much smaller at the time) and the gallery was an excellent feature for photographers, as well.

Google+ circles are great for dealing with the “noise” and the communities offer a lot of opportunity for sharing with similar interests.  Hangouts are being used to network with other photographers or clients, to talk about gear to give tips, provide portfolio reviews and community photo critiques and even more.

And remember, Google+ is owned by Google. It is good forsearch engine results.

2. Facebook

Facebook has a substantially larger active user base than Google+. This, coupled with the fact that it’s commonly integrated on other websites gives it an incredible amount of promise for photographers.

To utilize the site itself, you need only to create an account and to begin publishing your photographs. You can make your own business page, but this is only an optimal strategy if you plan to promote your own photographs alongside the work of others. As long as you don’t do too much promotion, you are probably fine with just a personal page.  Remember that a personal page must be your first and last name. It may NOT be the name of your company or even Jane Smith Photographer.

One reason to consider a business page on Facebook is the ability to advertise using Facebook ads. Facebook has become a pay-to-play platform which may sound like a negative, but in reality, it’s not. Facebook advertising allows you to post less content and reach a much more specific group of people.  And if you are growing an e-mail list (something you should consider doing), Facebook advertising has proven to be excellent.

One negative about Facebook is that 90% of users who “like” a page, never return to that page. This is another reason that Facebook ads have become necessary.

One positive is that Facebook is THE largest social platform and because your friends and family are probably already on it, you can take advantage of the 6 degrees of separation in order to make connections. Who better than friends and family to recommend you to their friends and family?

3. Twitter

Twitter is the platform that gives you 140 characters or less to publish your message. It is a phenomenal tool to connect with individuals and companies around the world. But it is a very fast-moving platform and as such you must regularly publish your messages because they disappear quickly.

Twitter users frown on too much promotion so it’s best to use the 80/20 rule: 80 sharing and 20% promotion.  Sharing your images is welcomed though and you are able to post up to 4 images at a time. You also have to option to tag your photos.

Twitter #hashtags allows for easy search results. For instance, type #photographer in the search box and you’ll be led to photographers who use Twitter or tweets with the hashtag #photographer in them.

Will you find many clients on Twitter? Probably not, but you will be able to connect with influential photographers to aspire to, companies who might utilize your photography, industry leaders in your area and because Twitter is usually the first to break news, a possible photo opportunity.

  1. Flickr

    Flickr is an interest network which means that its goal is pretty much just to share images. There’s not much interaction there. On Flickr, you are able to license images for reuse or print sales or you can choose not to allow that option.

    Flickr has come under fire lately when Yahoo! (its owner) started selling canvas images of its photos. They changed that policy but the negative feelings have lingered.

5.. Pinterest

Pinterest is unique from the other social networks listed here due to the fact that it focuses entirely on pinning and repinning images. Images are pinned from websites and placed onto virtual bulletin boards. Boards can be organized into categories of the user’s choice so for instance, images could be grouped into themes such as nature, street scenes, animals, marsala (Pantone’s color of the year), etc.

If you have a website where you share your photographs, sell your photographs or write blog posts, Pinterest might be a great platform to consider.  Images pinned from your website would link back to it and possibly bring visitors back to explore more of your offerings. One of the great things about Pinterest is that because of the “repining factor” the life of a pin is much longer than a tweet or a Facebook post.  A pinned item could be repined even a year after the original pin.

It’s also a great platform if you are a wedding, portrait or events photographer and is excellent for finding some inspiration.

5. Instagram

Instagram is a fun and easy way to share your images. You’ll find many photographers on Instagram and they seem eager to share each other’s work (with credit), so you have a good chance of growing a nice following. Plus Instagram is a great way to share photos of your life, your travels and your personality. Remember in 2015, it’s more about the photographer than they photography.

Instagram will also share easily to Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr and Twitter (although the size will be distorted in Twitter). Instagram cannot share to Google+.

This platform makes use of #hashtags and is the only platform where it’s acceptable to use large amounts of hashtags in a post. Check out the hashtags that other photographers are using.

It is a mobile only app though so in order to share images from your standard camera, you’ll need to upload them to Dropbox or another Cloud storage system and grab them on your mobile device. Another work-around for that (if you don’t have a cloud storage system) is to email them to yourself and then save the image to your mobile device.

Image credit: : DepositPhotos.com


Website Audience Retargeting on Facebook – What You Need To Know

We have grown to accept that Facebook is a pay-to-play space but many of us are still struggling with how to play AND how to decrease the amount that we need to pay in order to play.  I was SO excited to learn about website audience retargeting and how it could be used super effectively by anyone who has a website. Suddenly here is a tool that I could sink my teeth into.

  • If you have not heard of website audience retargeting on Facebook, I’m not surprised.  Not many businesses are using it yet although some big brands are (Target, Pepsi, Toyota, Gucci, MTV, Petco, Lexus and more). Those who are not using it are may be leaving money on the table. Studies have shown that only 2% of those who visit your website will become a customer. From the very recent One Fest, Jeff Bullas tweeted out that $4 trillion in sales is abandoned every year in online shopping carts! 63% is recoverable.  Website audience retargeting could aid in that recovery.

So what is website audience retargeting anyway? 

It’s a way to create highly relevant Facebook ads that are directed only to those people who have visited your website and expressed an interest in what you have to offer.

So, for instance, a person visits your website, checks out a certain page or product on a page and then leaves your website and at some point logs into Facebook (which is highly likely). You are then able to place an ad directly in front of them that relates to their behavior on your website!  You are able to track their behavior by placing a pixel on your website and creating website audience buckets.

Why is this important? 

Let’s say that Susie visits your website, notices your newest program on Raw Food Preparation. She checks out the sales page, clicks on purchase and for whatever reason, does not complete the purchase. Perhaps the doorbell rang, or one of the children needed her… or whatever.  The shopping cart is abandoned and you don’t get the sale.

With website audience retargeting, you now have a second chance.  You can create an ad that will be shown to Susie when she gets on Facebook. It might be a testimonial in praise of your new program or even a coupon code for a discount.

Another example: Jacob visits a website that sells used cars. While scrolling around he sees a white Toyota Prius and clicks on it. When Jacob returns to Facebook, the exact Toyota Prius can be placed in front of him on a Facebook ad.  You’ve seen this yourself from the big brands but now this is available to those of us with much smaller budgets.

With one client, a budget of $3.65 was used to target just 60 people and brought in over a thousand dollars in revenue. That is revenue that would have been lost without website audience retargeting.

Why Facebook?

  • Only 19.4% of Americans are unable to access their Facebook account at work
  • The average user spends 21 minutes per day on Facebook
  • There are 1.39 billion active monthly users
  • Facebook just introduced friend-to-friend payments (buying within Facebook will happen)
  • Facebook has the largest psychometric data base on the planet

Other ways that you can use the Facebook pixel and website audience retargeting:

1. a person who visits your website but does not sign up for your newsletter

2. a person who purchases a product who might enjoy a partner product

3.  a person who once visited your website but has not returned in some time

4.  to gather information in order to create a look-alike audience of your website visitors

5.  to obtain audience insights: psychographic and demographic data such as male vs female, age, income, etc.

“Retargeting can dramatically reduce your overall advertising costs and make every ad dollar 3 to 5 times more effective!”  ~ Jesse Jameson

Even if you don’t plan to use Facebook advertising right now, you’ll want to add the Facebook pixel to your website and create some audience buckets so that data from your website can be collected.  Then when you ARE ready to set up some ads, you’ll have a large enough audience in your bucket to work with.

If you need help with adding the pixel to your website or setting up your buckets or running your ads, contact us.  It's one of the services we offer. We’d be happy to help.

Image credit: Used with permission of Jesse Jameson

The Top 7 Mistakes Direct Marketers Make When Hosting a Facebook Party

For many direct sales marketers (think Scentsy, Origami Owl, Younique, Jamberry, Facebook parties have become an excellent alternative to in-home parties.  Attendees can party without the need to leave their home, pay for a babysitter or even get dressed to go out.  Party in your PJs has become the direct marketers battle cry!

Of course, some marketers have much more success than others and others are left to wonder why.  If you’re not having as great a success at your online parties, perhaps you are making one (or more) of these 7 mistakes. 

1. Making the event public.

Making the event public is just overwhelming for everyone.  Choose to either create a private event and send a limited number of invitations or create or a closed, secret group and add your party guests to the group.  I’m seeing many more direct marketers creating closed secret groups instead of events and having participated in a couple of them, I find them to be more effective.

 If you choose to create a closed secret group, immediately inform the attendees that they have the option to leave the group (and that there will be no hard feelings on the part of the hostess or rep) and how to do it.  Also advise them that they can turn off notifications if they’d rather not be notified of every post.  Provide directions on how to do that, as well.

Brande Belanger of Younique states “I find that the participation in events has been less than ideal for me. I think primarily because invitees need to RSVP. Plus, as new products roll out or if there are some really cool things I’d love to show (off), I can pop back in the group at any time and post an update. And, by setting the groups to Closed or Secret, participants aren’t sharing their FB activities to the world.”

2. Not coaching your hostess.

Your hostess needs to know what is expected of her.  Because she’s not in this business herself, she may not know the ins and outs of Facebook parties or of direct sales marketing itself.  Advise her to give you a list of at least 25-30 people (the more the merrier) and show her how to get them excited during the event. 

Also remember to coach the potential customer, as well. Let them know what to expect as far as length of party, what will be happening during the party, where to go to ask questions, etc.

3.  Following the outline of your home shows.

Of course, Facebook parties are not the same as home parties.  

Jamberry independent consultant, Rebecca Cantu notes that “the main difference I see between a Facebook party and a home party is the amount of time you have to cover all the desired content.

At a home party you focus mainly on the product and getting to know your audience. You have to do this in a short time so live demonstrations, one or two quick games and a drawing is usually all you can fit in.

With a Facebook party, you need to cover the same content, but it is spread out over a longer period of time (if you’re doing a longer event), so you have to build and keep interest. This usually involves a lot more creative ways, like games, to introduce your product as well as get to know your audience.”

4.  Making the event too long.

There seems to be a discrepancy among direct marketing experts on this one.  Some say that the event should be on one night and not last longer than an hour so as not to take up everyone’s time.  Some say that they have better success with an event that lasts up to a week.  Experiment between the two to find out what works best for you.  I can only speak as an attendee but I don’t want to be stuck in front of Facebook for an hour. I’d rather have the information dripped to me at a slower pace.

5. Linking to your online site too soon.

If you’re holding an event with a specific start and stop time, don’t link to your website too soon, ESPECIALLY if you sell a lot of different product.  Your potential purchaser might leave the party, begin clicking and never return.  And then she may forget why she went there in the first place! It’s best to link to your website at the very end of your event. 

6. Not using images.

Images convert at a much higher rate than plain text.  Try to use an image each and every time you post.  PicMonkey and Canva are great sites to use to create images.  Apps such as WordSwag, PicCollage and Rhonna Designs are also fantastic.  If you’re not good at image creation, Fiverr is a good place to find someone who is.

Do be careful that you are using your images legally.  If not, you could be sued.  (Attribution does not necessarily mean legal.) Check out this article for more information.

7.  Being too salesy

We’ve all seen the over-zealous and apparently ill-informed direct sales marketers who post a photo of an item and say something like “check out this fabulous necklace combo. It’s one of our best sellers! Book your party now and it could be yours!”.   No one wants to hear that.

A better option: “Check out this fabulous necklace combo.  I’m sporting this at the opening day Angels game.”  And that’s it!  Nothing else need be said.

Bonus: Bugging your potential customers using the private message feature.

When hosting an event, you have the ability to reach out to your attendees with a private message. Use this feature for important “requested” information. DO NOT PRIVATE MESSAGE YOUR POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS AND ASK THEM TO CHOOSE NUMBERS FOR THE BINGO GAME OR ASKING IF THEY’RE GOING TO PLACE AN ORDER!    JUST DON’T.

Do let me know if these tips have helped at all.  And if you have further questions about how to set up Facebook events or Facebook groups, feel free to ask.

Photo credit: DepositPhotos/vadimphoto1

Give Your Website a Boost By Cutting Its Bounce Rate

This is a guest article by Corinna Rake of Online Empowerment and was reposted with permission by the author.  I thought it was excellent and wanted to share. 

Bounce rate. It’s one of those website terms that kinda makes sense, but you may be wondering what it *actually* means – and why you should care.

Let’s give it some context first. The bounce rate is one of many analytics, or data, that can be collected to measure your website’s performance. Another, more common analytic is “page views.”

Bounce rate takes page views one step further and incorporates action – action (or inaction) taken by the web page visitor. More than just taking a general headcount (which doesn’t tell you much), bounce rate tracks whether someone navigates within the site – clicks on a link, presses a button, or fills out a form that takes them to another page within your site. The more they browse around, the lower your bounce rate statistic. That’s a good thing!

On average, a bounce rate falls between 40-60%. That means 40-60% of ALL visitors leave your website without visiting another page.


Depending on the style and desired outcome of your website, the bounce rate may be critical, or not at all important. A ‘single-page’ site, for example, will have a 100% bounce rate because there is nowhere else for the visitor to go. Chances are though, your website falls into the standard, multi-page site category, and all the information your ideal visitor/client needs is notlocated on a single page.

Sticky keywords keep visitors interested

Imagine your website is a chalk board and your website visitors are tennis balls.

They search a relevant keyword and land on your chalkboard (your website).

Now, picture that you have a piece of velcro stuck on your chalkboard each time you mention important keyword or any related topics. Since your visitor’s tennis ball is fuzzy, it’ll stick to the velcro every time their search matches what you’re talking about.

In other words, your chances of that visitor sticking around are much better if your website contains words, and imagery, that matches what they are looking for.

Although, having relevant information is just the first step. Once they land and stick, you need to make sure you have a clearly defined action for them to take. That could be a simple email optin box, or perhaps clicking through to read more about your products/services.

If you don’t have what they are looking for, or if you don’t provide an obvious ‘what’s next?’ action, the ball will bounce right off. This translates into pressing ‘back’ in the browser, closing the tab/window, typing in a new URL, or simply doing nothing for up to 30min, when the session times out and it’s recorded as a bounce.

People aren’t poking around your website – what are you doing wrong?

Best case scenario: the tennis ball lands on your site from a referral on social media or other highly-regarded source (think JV partnerships, word-of-mouth referral, etc.) they tend to be super fuzzy and stick to your velcro more easily. They start looking around, reading your About page, more of your blog posts, they sign up for your opt-in, or best, buy something.

Sometimes basketballs arrive – they represent spambots, or other non-human visitors that will never stick, no matter how much velcro you have. Unfortunately, their bounce still counts in your data.

What about “real” visitors who don’t come from trusted sources?

What keeps them from staying and how can you entice them to click around and explore?

  • You’ve got a slow-loading website.
    Nothing is more frustrating and ensures a click on the ‘back’ button faster than a site that takes more than a few seconds to load.
    “According to surveys done by Akamai and Gomez.com, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds.” – Sherice Jacob, “Speed is a Killer” on Kissmetrics.com
    The good news, improving site speed can be fairly straight-forward. Want to test your site? There are free tools you can use. We use Pingdom to test our sites and our clients’.
    Sometimes though, it requires an intensive site audit, and possibly changing website hosting providers. GoDaddy, for example, is notoriously slow for hosting WordPress sites.
    The speed of your site can mean the difference between having visitors stay, and buy or contact you, versus bouncing on their merry way and never seeing what you have to offer. It’s worth the investment to resolve this.
  • You don’t have enough and/or the ‘right’ keywords.
    SEO (search engine optimization)  scares a lot of people (but it doesn’t have to). Basically, it’s about making it easy for search engines to send traffic your way based on matching the terms people search with the keywords you include on your site.
    You don’t need to hire some firm that promises to help you rank on the first page of Google. These days SEO is about creating relevant content, not gaming the search system. What can you do right now? Play customer and list the top ten words you think they plug into Google when seeking the solution you provide. Be sure those words appear prominently across your site.
  • Your site doesn’t have a clearly defined outcome.
    A “sticky velcro” website is about so much more than technical stuff.
    Your words, design and imagery must work together to create a powerful experience for the visitor. Remember, you’re creating an experience that matches your ideal clients’ needs, interests, and aesthetic. When your perfect person hits your site and says “yes, that’s it!” she’ll click around and lower your bounce rate. Much more importantly, she’ll take action and opt in or buy what you’re selling. Make sure your site is prepared to guide her easily on that journey.

    What changes can you make today that will improve your website’s bounce rate and over-all performance?

    Photo credit: Deposit Photos/Vitalinka