Category Archives: Social Media

Social Media And Your Web Site

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

What does the world see when it comes to your web site? After all, most social media sites allow you to list one or more home pages or blogs. It’s not uncommon for someone who meets you on Facebook or Twitter to hop over to your web site to learn more. You probably do the same thing when you’re thinking of asking a contact you met on social media to provide a product or service.

Many web sites sprawl like an untended garden. Few people have a clear idea of what they want from their web presence before they put up a site (at least, their first site). Some site owners just add pages for new material, but pay little attention to update or remove old information. Other sites are essentially abandoned, having been posted and then ignored.

Your web site is your virtual storefront and business card. Rightly or wrongly, people will judge you by the quality and content of your site. This is especially true if the information they see on social media about you doesn’t seem to match the web site when they visit. When a social media friend makes the effort to check out your web site, you’re one step closer to closing a sale. Don’t let them slip away at the front door.

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Online office essentials

By Gail Z. Martin

            When you’re working on the go, many of the helpful tools you take for granted in your office aren’t at hand.  Fortunately, there’s an app for that.

Appzilla and Appzilla2 are the Swiss Army knives of the app world.  Appzilla comes with 90 mini apps, and Appzilla2 has 120, including a book lamp, checklist, countdown timer, area code look-up, alarm clock, currency converter, date calculator, flashlight, and links to nine Google apps.  Sure, Appzilla also has fun things like a metronome, moon calculator and Morse code generator, but those can be a momentary distraction when you’re stuck in an airport.

Need a dictionary?  Try the Dictionary! app or the Dictionary.com app and have the English language at your fingertips. The Dictionary.com app even includes a thesaurus, or you can grab FreeSaurus on iTunes.

Looking for a phone number?  Before you pay for a 411 look-up, try the WhitePagesMobile app.  Use it to search for either businesses or people, and get maps or directions.  YPMobile gives you the Yellow Pages business directory, plus ratings and event information.

Want to translate a phrase into Chinese or Serbian?  The FreeTranslator app will help you with the important short sentences necessary to get by when you’re traveling.  Can’t remember the source of a quote?  Quotationary probably has what you’re looking for.  Need to know where in the world you are?  Try World Atlas HD for maps and useful details about every country on the globe.  Struggling with a metric conversion question?  Convertbot has the answer.  Not sure when your package will arrive?  DeliveryStatus will get an answer for you.  Need a mirror to see if the lettuce from your salad at lunch is still in your teeth?  The Mirror app turns your smart phone into, yep, a mirror that you won’t lose in your desk drawer.

If you miss your filing drawer back at the office, try FilesToGo, a Cloud-based filing system that gives you access when you’re traveling.  No need to juggle loose printouts on the plane: GoodReader can translate a PDF file into an iPad-friendly format so you can read it from your touchscreen.  Bento is an app that works like a virtual clipboard/database/desktop organizer for either the iPad or iPhone.

When you’d rather speak than use a keyboard, you’ve got several great options.  DragonDictation’s app (and program for the PC)  lets you speak into your smart phone and activate your email or your text messages.  To use your phone to take dictation or just record a message to send later, try Say It & Mail It Pro Recorder or QuickVoice2TextEmail.

Keep track of your time while you’re on the road with TimeMaster + Billing—it’s even got a billing module.  Take your pick: Timewerks, TimeLogger or iTimeSheetLite can also help you manage and monetize your time.  They differ in capabilities, so pick the one that works best for you.

If there’s still anything you’re missing from your bricks-and-mortar office, a quick search on iTunes or Android app store will probably turn up several contenders to help you create your home away from home.

Excerpted from 30 Days to Virtual Productivity Success by Gail Z. Martin—available now in bookstores and online!

 

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Recommendations from a Road Warrior—More Cool Mobile Apps

By Gail Z. Martin

Remember those Cloud-based storage programs I told you about earlier in the book?  Most of them have mobile apps, so you can truly access your information no matter where you are or what kind of device you’re using.

This is where the power of the Cloud really makes a difference, because through Cloud-based storage, you can access, edit and share many more documents than your mobile phone or tablet PC could store locally, without slowing down your device or maxing out your storage.  Google Docs, SugarSync, Box.net, and Dropbox all have mobile apps, making it easy to grab your documents no matter where you are.

Many apps also allow you to email documents as attachments, which is a nice back-up storage option.  Be wary, however, of relying on email if your document is large or your WiFi connection is of questionable strength.  Remember, too, that if you’re using a public WiFi connection in a hotel or airport, your data is not encrypted so don’t email or upload sensitive files until you have a secure connection. Also, mobile plans differ in the way they charge for data usage, especially if you’re using your own Internet hot spot, so make sure you understand your phone plan pricing or you could be in for a surprise when your next bill arrives.

Excerpted from 30 Days to Virtual Productivity Success by Gail Z. Martin—available now in bookstores and online!

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GET WORK DONE WHEN YOU’RE ON THE ROAD

By Gail Z. Martin

Whether you’re a true road warrior or you just seem to be on the go all the time, mobile apps from your tablet PC or smart phone can make your life much more productive.  Even better: many great apps are free, and others are very inexpensive, so productivity seems sweeter than ever.

What are the basics you need to get work done when you’re not in the office?  At a minimum, you need some good ways to take notes, work on or read documents, store and retrieve files, and access the tools you usually have close at hand in an office or on your laptop.  Fortunately, there are apps for all these needs, and on your smart phone or tablet PC, they’re truly at your fingertips.

Managing your documents when you’re on the road

Smart phones and tablet PCs are desirable because they’re smaller and lighter than a laptop and easier to carry around.  But that same portability comes with a price: they can’t carry all of the files stored so conveniently on your laptop.  Good news: an ever-increasing array of apps bridge that gap between laptop and mobile device, making it easier than ever to work on the go.

Quick note taking is essential to keep your thoughts organized, especially when you’re constantly in motion.  iPhones and iPads come with a basic Notes app, which while not perfect, is quite suitable for the kinds of things you’d jot on a cocktail napkin.  While it doesn’t sync with other apps and it doesn’t have any security beyond that of your phone’s keypad, Notes is perfect for jotting down something you don’t want to forget and assuring that you won’t lose the scrap of paper you wrote it on.  Not perfect, but it’s free, and there’s a lot of basic function that goes a long way.

Evernote, which I’ve discussed earlier in the book, also has a mobile app.  So if you love it on your other devices, you can bring it along in your pocket with your phone or tablet PC.  A few other note taking apps include Awesome Note, WriteRoom, Simplenote and RememberTheMilk make it easy to jot down what you need to remember, and come with varying additional capabilities, such as being able to sync to other devices or store data in the Cloud.

Pages is very good, basic app for reading and writing documents.  Documents you create in Pages can be emailed in RTF or Word format, and you can email yourself (small) documents in those formats and edit using Pages.  While I find it cumbersome to type documents of any length with the on-screen keyboard or a phone or tablet PC, when you pair Pages with a wireless keyboard, the result is pretty efficient.

For those who want to access their Microsoft Office files from their iPad or iPhone, Quickoffice® Pro HD bridges the gap between Microsoft and Apple.  There’s also a scaled down version, Quickoffice Connect Suite.  With Quickoffice, you can open a Word document, access a PowerPoint presentation, or edit, save and share other types of Office-based files.  Office2 HD is a similar program, offering a few more capabilities for word processing than some of the more basic apps.  Documents To Go® Premium Office Suite not only handles Word and PowerPoint, but it will also access Excel spreadsheets, and it syncs with storage programs including Dropbox, SugarSync and Box.net.

Excerpted from 30 Days to Virtual Productivity Success by Gail Z. Martin—available now in bookstores and online!

 

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ONE-STOP TIMESAVERS FOR BUSY PEOPLE

By Gail Z. Martin

“Dashboard” programs provide all-in-one-place control, much like the console of a car or airplane.  Programs like HootSuite, Social Oomph, Ping and TweetDeck make it possible for you to plan your social media campaigns and load content in advance.

One of the central benefits of a dashboard program is the “set it and forget it” feature; the ability to enter content into the dashboard and schedule blog posts, Facebook updates and Twitter tweets to go out over a period of time.  While pre-scheduled content is no substitute for live conversations, dashboard programs fill the very real need of making sure that busy people maintain a baseline, consistent level of content without large gaps.  You can always pop in online to add updates, post photos or jump into conversations in addition to your pre-scheduled content, but you won’t get to Thursday and realize you haven’t posted or tweeted all week.

A caveat: many dashboard programs post content with a source credit that says “from API”, meaning that it has been automatically posted.  Some social media users and search engines view pre-scheduled content as less desirable than live-posted information, regardless of the quality of the actual information itself.  This means that to keep your friends, fans and followers happy and to raise your social media score with ranking programs like Klout and Alexa, keep a good balance of live posts and pre-scheduled posts.  On the other hand, realize that pre-scheduled content is better than no content. Followers, search engines and ranking programs also take a dim view of prolonged absences. I maintain that if the best you can do during a busy period is pre-scheduled content, being present on a consistent basis far outweighs the alternatives.

HootSuite is one of the best-known dashboard programs.  It’s a powerful, user-friendly site that offers levels of membership ranging from a basic free service to a more robust Pro level.  The heart of HootSuite is the ability to enter posts in advance into the dashboard and program when your content goes live across multiple social media sites.  This works especially well if you are using a virtual assistant to help you load the content you’ve written, and it makes it easy to keep track of what you’ve said and where you said it.

For those who want to go deeper, HootSuite also has the capability to do detailed tracking across your sites, looking at follower growth, metrics from Google Analytics, and other indicators.  For larger organizations with a social media response team, HootSuite not only can prepare reports, but enables team collaboration and the ability to assign messages to team members for follow-up.  Other features, such as file upload, follower management capabilities and localization are great for enterprise-level use, but not important for the average small business or solo professional user.  HootSuite also has a convenient mobile app for smart phones, so you can keep an eye on your account when you’re on the go.

SocialOomph, the program formerly known as TweetLater, is another dashboard with many of the same capabilities as HootSuite.  As you’d expect, SocialOomph lets you pre-load and schedule on Twitter, blogs and Facebook, and provides both a basic free level of service and an extended professional level.  You can track keywords, view your @Mentions and Retweets, purge spammy Direct Messages (DM), and monitor multiple accounts from one dashboard.  The professional level offers blog integration, profile filters, and some interesting ways to assess which of your followers might be your most valuable prospects.  While SocialOomph leans heavily toward Twitter with a nod toward Facebook and blogs, it does enable Ping to send your information to LinkedIn and MySpace.

TweetDeck is another of the well-known dashboards.  TweetDeck offers connectivity with Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Buzz, and Foursquare.  It makes it easy to create and manage Twitter Lists and helps cut down on Twitter spam.  Another valuable feature is the ability to follow Twitter Trends, real-time topics and TwitScoop to stay abreast of the most popular topics.  TweetDeck is available for iPhone, Android, iPad and a new Web-based interface, as well as the original desktop version.  At the time of this writing, TweetDeck is free, which is good for a solid, basic dashboard.  However, if you’re looking for a pro version with additional features or you want more analytics, at the moment, they’re not built into TweetDeck, so one of the other dashboards may do a better job if those elements are important to you.

Excerpted from 30 Days to Virtual Productivity Success by Gail Z. Martin—available now in bookstores and online!

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the Zen of Facebook

By Gail Z. Martin

Does Facebook stress you or help you relax?

Facebook favors selective attention.  I enjoy looking at (and forwarding) blissful pictures, motivational quotes, and funny sayings.  While I often read without commenting, I also enjoy being able to take a short break and get caught up with what friends and acquaintances are doing.

I have a strict “no haters” rule on my page.  I consider my profile page to be part of my public persona as an author and a business person, so I will accept friend requests from anybody who asks (so long as they post in English).  But…posting something hateful will get a person de-friended and their posts removed.  I don’t need to look at that kind of stuff, and I certainly don’t need to be party to sharing it.

Likewise, I stay out of contentious debates.  I have plenty of opinions on topics, but the world really doesn’t care what I think (and if you do, you can read my books).  Too many comments devolve into useless quibbles.  Don’t harsh my mellow!  If it’s an occasional debate I’ll overlook it, but if someone frequently posts contentious items, it’s a guaranteed way to get de-friended, or at least, hidden.

When I participate on Facebook, I try to share information that will educate, empower or inspire, and occasionally, make you laugh.  That’s my tiny contribution in a world that needs a whole lot more knowledge, empowerment, inspiration and laughter.  I am grateful for the amazing ability to use technology that enables me to touch a global audience, and I have set my intentions to

I limit my time on Facebook to first thing in the morning (to post those success thoughts), and occasionally during the day when I need a 5 minute mental vacation.  If you know you can’t go out to Facebook for just 5 minutes, then wait until evening.  If you have difficulty staying focused on business at the beginning of the workday, make a to-do list with one or two action items related to business, go out on Facebook and do them, and then log off.  And if it’s too distracting to get email updates when people post on your page, disable the emails so you have to go out and look.

Facebook can be a good business tool and a fun part of your social life, but it shouldn’t add to your stress.  Try these ideas to help you get into Facebook’s more relaxing qualities, and have fun!

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Savvy, Successful or Scared of Social Media?

By Gail Z. Martin

Where are you on the social media scale?  Savvy?  Successful?  Or scared?

If you put yourself in the third category, you’re in good company.  So many of the business owners and solo professionals I meet confide that they are afraid of social media.  That fear is holding them back from using a valuable tool that could help them grow their business.  And here’s the good news:  you don’t have to be afraid.

Fear #1: Social Media is Unfamiliar. One way to look at social media that takes some of the fear away is to think of it as a tool like your telephone, mailbox or email.  None of those are very scary, right?  They’re all tools we use to connect with other people, and to have other people connect with us.  Used improperly, we get telemarketer phone calls, junk mail and spam.  But used correctly, we hear from friends, family and clients, receive valuable materials, and reach people around the world.

Social media is one more way to make that connection, to deliver or receive valuable information, and to reach people around the block and around the world.

Fear #2: Social Media Will Take Up All My Time.  Not if you plan your work and work your plan.  Think of it this way: if you walk into a store to browse, you could wander around for an hour.  But if you go in knowing exactly what you want to buy, you can be in and out in 15 minutes.  It’s the same with social media.  Before you log on, have one or two strategic actions you want to accomplish, go do them, and log off.  If there are things that catch your eye that aren’t business-related, save them for your lunch hour or evening.

 

Fear #3: I Might Meet Weird Strangers on Social Media.  Well, you might meet weird strangers at the supermarket, too.  However, on social media, you can choose whose invitations to accept, and if someone you’ve followed or friended turns out not be someone you want to associate with, you can easily unfriend them.  Imagine social media as a huge conference.  You go to meet new people, but if you meet someone you don’t like, you can throw out their business card.  Social media is a big, global conference where you can meet amazing new people, and if you don’t like someone, you don’t have to remain in contact with them.

Fear #4: I Don’t Know What to Say on Social Media.  Social media is a fantastic way to encourage, educate, motivate, inspire, inform and support other people.  If you focus on sharing helpful information, suggesting resources, sharing inspiring or motivating quotes/photos, and throwing in the occasional link to an interesting article, or funny G-rated video or book title, you’ve gone a long way toward offering useful, helpful, and connection-building content.

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Facing your Facebook Fears – Fear of Facebook: Three Steps to Fear-Free Social Media

By Gail Z. Martin

I’ll never forget the time a lady came up to me at a luncheon and said, “I’ve gotten on Facebook for business and someone I don’t know wants to be my friend.  What do I do?”

She was truly terrified of talking to “strangers” on social media, and yet, isn’t meeting new people at the very heart of business success?

I asked the woman, “If someone came up to you at this luncheon and smiled and introduced herself, would you dive under the table?”  “Of course not,” she replied.  “Well, Facebook is like a big networking luncheon that never stops,” I told her.  And when she thought about it that way, she was suddenly able to make sense of it and it wasn’t nearly so scary.

As I travel and speak to groups, I’m saddened and amazed at how many people are hanging back from utilizing social media because of fear.  So here are three steps you can use to get past your Fear of Facebook and start using social media fear-free.

1.  If you don’t put personal information on Facebook, no one can get it.  This one’s pretty simple.  If you don’t want to take a chance that the world might see certain photos or certain comments, don’t post them.  Period.  If it’s not there, it can’t be copied, forwarded or accidentally leaked.

2.  Give yourself credit.  “Don’t talk to strangers” is good advice for children, but in reality, if you’re in business you have to talk to people you don’t know.  If you opened a store, you wouldn’t stay in business long if the only people you allowed to enter were friends and family. It’s the same on social media.  Use common sense.  Don’t talk about upcoming vacations or times when your house will be empty (talk about your trips when you return, unless someone will be at home while you’re gone).  Never give out your password or account numbers, even if someone seems official.  Keep conversations “business casual” and you’ll be fine.

3.  Make sure you have up-to-date security software on your computer like Norton Anti-Virus or a similar program, and never click on links that look suspicious.  For example, if you’re leery of clicking on a Facebook link in your email, open Facebook in your browser and click through from there.  Don’t open attachments unless you’re sure you know the sender and you know what’s in the attachment. (Good anti-virus software will help with dangerous emails as well.)

Take simple precautious and use the same common sense that you employ going about your business in the real world, and you’ll find that Facebook and other social media sites can enrich your business and personal life.

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It’s Difficult to Change

Sheryl Eldene, MA, MBA

A group of scientists and researchers put five monkeys in a cage, in the middle of the cage was a ladder.  On top of the ladder was a bunch of bananas. When a monkey climbed the ladder to catch the bananas and reached the top, a jet of cold water was thrown on the others who were on the ground.

After a certain time, when a monkey climbed to catch the bananas, the others took him off the lader and spanked him. Later on, no one climbed the ladder anymore, in spite of the temptation of the sweet treat at the top.

Next, one of them was replaced by a new monkey. The first thing he tried to do was to climb the ladder, but he was taken off by the others who spanked him. As he was not able to reach the top, the others did not receive the jet of cold water. After some spanking, the new member of the group stopped trying to reach the bananas anymore.

A second monkey was replaced in the cage and the same thing happened to him. The first one took part, with enthusiasm in the spanking of the new one. A third was replaced and the same thing happened. A fourth, and finally the last one of the members of the group was replaced.

The researchers, then, had in the cage a group of five monkeys who had never received a cold bath through were still spanking the one who tried to reach the bananas. If it were possible to ask any of them why they spanked the one who tried to climb the ladder, surely, among the answers the most frequent one would be:
“I don’t know, but things have always been like this around here.”

Are there actions that you are taking in your business or your life that originally had a life affirming reason for being part of you, but no longer serves you? For example:

  • What did you have for breakfast;
  • How you respond to survey calls;
  • How your respond to solicitation visits;
  • How you respond to requests for help;
  • How you ask for help.

During this week of transition, check out what is on auto-pilot, and why is the banana in your life still hanging there above the ladder?

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