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Free Online Resources


Wednesday
Sep242014

Is your content inclusive?

The language you use to communicate with your audience says a lot about your business. If you’re using language your audience is unfamiliar with then you are less likely to have your message heard, or if it is heard it may be misunderstood. Your online content is sometimes your audience’s first impression of who you are as a business and the last thing you want to do is leave them feeling excluded or confused.

So, how do you make sure that you are creating inclusive content?

Use plain language

When you use plain language more people understand what you’re saying. This means your message will not only be heard more often, but that it is more easily sharable between your current and potential audience.  Think about some of the greatest brand slogans, such as Nike’s “Just Do It” – it’s easy to remember, easy to type and easily associated with the brand. 

Use conversational language

Whether you’re creating content for your website, blog or social networks, keep the language conversational. This means avoiding convoluted terminology and using words that you would hear in every day conversation. If it isn’t a word you would feel comfortable using all the time, don’t use it, and the same goes for a word that you don’t know the definition of – if you have to look up the definition, don’t use it in your content.

The best thing about conversational language is that it is more likely to generate a conversation between you and your audience, which could result in great things for you and your business!

Write more like you would speak than in what would be considered a “professional” way. A great way to practice doing this is to draft your post orally and record it and then listen to it and transcribe it. This will give you a great starting point for conversational sounding content.

Don’t think of it as “dumbing down”

The following video from the Government of Digital Service in the UK explains it best:

The term “dumbing down” is offensive and just because your audience doesn’t necessarily want to read complex content doesn’t make them dumb (as the term implies). It simply means that your wording is confusing or it takes more effort to read when people want to be able to skim.

Using complicated language excludes people from learning about what it is you have to offer, which could result in loss of sales or revenue.

Think of your content as an extension of yourself.  If you were in a room surrounded by your ideal audience would you want them to feel welcome or excluded? Use language everyone can understand and relate to and you will better the chances of one-time visitors becoming a part of your loyal audience.

Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.  Do you prefer content written simply and in a conversational tone or does it feel too simplified for you?

Monday
Sep152014

Facebook account cloning: what it is and how to prevent it 

Have you ever received a Facebook friend request from someone you are already friends with? If so, don’t accept it! Chances are your friend’s account was cloned and the cloned account wants to get a hold of your information. Accepting a friend request from a cloned account leaves you vulnerable to spam and often reveals personal details that could be used in identity theft. So, how do you avoid having your Facebook account cloned?

Check your privacy settings

Is your profile picture able to be viewed by your friends or by everyone? You can easily tell this by looking on the top right hand side of your opened profile picture – if you see a tiny icon of the world, this means your profile picture can be viewed in a larger format by the general public and in turn can be downloaded easily (and therefore re-used by someone else) – making it easier for someone to clone your account. Make sure your current and past profile pictures as well as all photos and photo albums you have uploaded and created are always set to “friends” and are never made available to the public.

Hide your friends list

It’s fun to scroll through the friends lists of other people, especially when looking to connect with past colleagues and school mates, but by leaving the list open to the public, or even just your friends you are leaving them at risk. If someone clones your account, the first thing they are going to do is try and befriend people on your friends list in an attempt to get ahold of their information as well.

Don’t accept friend requests from strangers

Consider this not talking to strangers online. If you do not who someone is, don’t accept their friend request or create a rule  - only accept a friend request if you have two or more mutual friends in common (Facebook typically shares this information with you at the time of the request).

Don’t accept requests from people you are already friends with

If you are already friends with someone, don’t accept a second friend request from them and be sure to report the cloned account to the original account owner as well as to Facebook. If you are unsure if you are friends with that person, double check your friends list. If you’re still unsure send a message to the original account owner asking them if this is them or not, but when in doubt don’t accept the friend request.

Don’t overshare

If you are heading out on vacation don’t post it as a status on Facebook and then have that status open to the public. At the very least make it only viewable to friends you wholeheartedly trust. You can do this by creating lists and only selecting those lists to share with. 

As with all social media it’s important to remember that whatever you post online is “out there” and even though you may think it is protected it doesn’t take much for complete strangers to access that information. The best thing to do is to take all necessary precautions when posting online and be mindful of what you are sharing and who you are sharing it with.

Thursday
Sep112014

Five reasons you should start sending a newsletter

I’m a huge fan of newsletters (no surprise to you if you follow my content :) ). Newsletters are a great way to stay in touch with people in a reliable and regular way. Today I’m going to break down five reasons I think you should be sending a regular newsletter to your audience. 

1)   Who doesn’t check their email?

Almost everyone checks their email daily, if not 500 times a day (I admit nothing!). People check their email far more reliably and more often than they do any other social network so getting into their inbox means they are much more likely to see the information you want to share with them.

2)   They asked for it

People have a tendency to think of email as bothersome, but remember that if you have someone’s email address it’s because they gave it to you (if they didn’t, you need to make sure you make a few changes.) 

If you convinced someone that they want to receive email from you, they probably want to hear what you have to say and it’s not remotely a bother to them.

3)   You know they saw it

Advertising on social networks, or any other kind of advertising, will never guarantee that your audience will see your message. Facebook algorithms, and whether or not they’ve logged in to potentially see the message at all is a big unknown.

When you are sending someone an email they are almost guaranteed to have seen that you sent them something. That doesn’t mean they’ll open it, or read it (this is why subject lines are SO important), but it does mean that they saw something from you. This is much more reliable than any other way of getting in touch with your audience.

4)   You can measure the success

Newsletter tools have amazing ways to measure the success of what you’re sending. You can see who opened the emails and what they clicked on, you can run tests to see if you have more opens based on the time of day that you send or based who you’ve sent the email from (we’ve played around a lot with sending emails from “Wellman Wilson Consulting” vs. “Lara and Karen”). Metrics let you know if what you’re doing is working, something you always need to pay attention to in order to make sure that the efforts you’re putting into online marketing is worth it.

5)   It works

I can’t say this as confidently for any other online marketing tool. When I talk to people about the success of their newsletter, especially if it’s sent with regularity, everyone tells me it impacts not only relationship building, but also sales. An email newsletter gets results and that has to be the biggest reason of all to have one. 

Do you want to start an email newsletter but you’re not sure where to start? Join us for a free webinar on Tuesday, September 16th at noon EST. In this one-hour webinar we’re going to be covering the basics of why you need a newsletter, what you need to consider when starting a newsletter, what you should be saying, and answering all your newsletter questions. 

Sign Up Today!

 

Thursday
Sep042014

Throwback Thursday - why it's fun for businesses too

Every Thursday I love going through my social network feeds and seeing old photos of my friends for Throwback Thursday/#TBT (Throwback Thursday is when people share old photos, primarily on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). I know I’m not alone because the likes and comments on these posts are all super high. So, what is it about Throwback Thursday that people like so much?

Who are you?

People want to know about you.  They want to get to know you.  They want to feel like they’re talking to a human being who they can connect with. 

That photo of you and your sister at the beach in 1986, or the photo of you at your high school graduation, it gives people a glimpse of you that touches an emotional point in them. Those old photos help make you seem more human to them, which makes them feel more connected to you.

It’s the story

All of this comes back to the idea that people love a story and Throwback Thursday is giving people another glimpse at your story. Who you are, how you became the person you are and how that relates to the people you deal with in your audience is always key.

Should YOU be sharing old photos?

If there are photos of you that you feel comfortable sharing and that you can relate back to your business, either because it has a direct link or because it lets you share a story that your audience will relate to, it’s a great idea to share the photo. I have shared a lot of Throwback Thursday photos on my personal Facebook timeline, but I am now inspired to share some here with you.

Take a look at this photo from 2010 of a gang of friends in a “Losing it in Ottawa” group (the first project Karen and I started together) taking part in Run for the Cure. We’ve done a lot of fun things together!

 

 

Or this photo, of my husband and I before we were married. It was taken for an article in Glue Magazine about couples who met online, proving I’ve been making online connections for a long time!

 

Or this one of me taking part in a workshop to learn how to make videos on my phone, which reminds me, I need to start doing that again!

 

 

These little glimpses into my world will hopefully make you feel like you know me a little bit better, and that’s what I’m always looking to have happen in my online communications. I want to build relationships with people so that when the time comes, you think of me if you’re ready to take the next step and learn more about online marketing. Spend some time and think of how you can do the same with YOUR audience.

Then leave me a comment and let me know if you share Throwback Thursday photos personally or for your business, and if you do, share a link - I’d love to come and see them!

Wednesday
Aug272014

Is the #ALSIceBucketChallenge a case of slacktivism?

If you’re online you have surely seen people pouring ice water on their heads over the last couple of weeks. It’s one of the most viral trends I have ever witnessed and that alone makes it worth talking about.

What is the #ALSicebucketchallenge

Simply put, the ice bucket challenge is a challenge where people pour a bucket of ice water over their head and then challenge three friends to do the same within 24 hours.  If they don’t pour the ice water over their heads they need to donate $100 to XYZ charity. Friends of Pete Frates turned the ice bucket challenge into an ALS cause. Check out this video if you want to find out more about how it happened.  

Is this slacktivism?

The challenge states that you don’t have to donate if you pour ice water over your head. That means that you’re getting OUT of donating by doing this. Because of this, and the fact that there are definitely many people who are taking part in the challenge and not donating, many have started complaining about this challenge, suggesting that this challenge was a case of slacktivism - making it seem like you’re doing something for a charity without doing anything at all.

However, it quickly became clear to me that this was more than just slacktivism because slacktivism doesn’t raise money.  Since July 2014 millions of dollars have been raised for ALS. The numbers are so big and growing so fast that I can’t even keep up with them.

When I looked on Friday night ALS Canada was about to hit three million dollars in donations. On Tuesday afternoon, they were over eight million dollars. Pouring ice water on your head HAS helped - enormously.

Isn’t it a waste of water?

I admit, this argument bothers me. Especially here in Canada, we have no lack of fresh water. Do other people lack it? Yes, of course. But we can’t send the bucket of ice water to the people who need it, so, in my opinion, using it to help a different cause is a great thing to do. In places where they have less water (like California) people are being discouraged to take the challenge.

My favourite response with regards to water is from Matt Damon who I think does a great job of making serious issues fun with his organization water.org. He did the ice bucket challenge by using water from the toilets in his house. His toilet water is cleaner than a lot of drinking water is in other countries, making the clean water message come through without sounding bitter, all while doing the ALS challenge.

What made this so successful?

This is one of the most successful fundraising campaigns ever, and the reason for that is because it wasn’t started by a charity, it was started by people. People decided to do this and they challenged their friends. They combined this with something that is fun to watch (videos of people dousing themselves in ice water are funny) and easy to do (we all have access to water and ice). It’s a story, it’s personal, and it doesn’t feel like it’s driven by someone just asking for money.

I doubt this will be reproducible for ALS, but for now, they are getting more money in donations than they ever have before and if they can keep even a small percentage of their new donors engaged to give again in the future, this is a HUGE win for them.

What I would love to see is the world getting behind causes like this on a regular basis. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if influencers with as much of an audience as Mark Zuckerberg and Will Smith got behind a charity on a yearly basis? I have no idea what the next funny challenge will be or if we’ll ever see something like this again, but it has been fascinating to witness and speaks volumes about the amazing potential that the internet and social media has for doing good.

My turn!

I could hardly write a post about this without doing it myself so I took the challenge on with two of my kids. We also made a donation. Here’s the video!

Your turn! Leave a comment and let me know if you’ve done the ice bucket challenge, if you’ve donated to ALS and if you think this is a worthwhile cause.