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Three Things that Will Get You Unstuck If You're Staring at a Blank Page Right Now

Presented without comment

Presented without comment

Writing for your business can feel daunting, even if you've been doing it for a while. These are my tips for getting started.  

1. Make a swipe file. Are you already doing this? I can't think of a writer who wouldn't (or doesn't!) benefit from looking for inspiration. Keeping a swipe file for the different types of writing you do is a great way to cut down on wasting time perusing the internet every time you need to write something. It's a great way for keeping you from falling down the black hole of Twitter/Facebook, too. 

Here are some swipe files to get you started (or Google them if you don't see one you like on the list!) 

 

2. Write down every good question. This tip is for bloggers. This is the best way I've found for avoiding that feeling of not knowing exactly what to write about. Either you can't think of anything, or you can't narrow down your topic. 

If you're committed to writing once a week or more, the only way you can stay consistent is if you create a long list of topics in advance. 

So, where do you get these topics? From your conversations with clients and colleagues. Every time they say something that sparks a discussion between you two, every time you give the same very good answer to a question you've answered 8 million times before, every time you tweet about a small moment or experience related to your workday, write down the topic and a brief description. 

 

3. Start in the middle. Full disclosure, this is the first full sentence of the blog that I actually wrote; this sentence right here.  

I didn't exactly start here. I started by outlining the blog--I know I'm going to write about writing down every good question and about keeping a swipe file (which you already read about, but which I haven't written yet.) The reason I haven't written those sections yet: after I outlined them I got worried and stopped writing. 

I started wondering, "Will anyone care about what I have to say about this topic?" "Do the people reading my blog really care about this topic?" "This is not going to be that good--why am I bothering?"  

I have had this issue my whole writing life. It hasn't mattered what I was writing. It's worse when you're hoping that people will read what you're writing (as opposed to hoping they won't read it, which is a state more common among writers than you might think).

When I start at the beginning, I have this kind of Pavlovian reaction of  paralyzing fear that it won't be good enough for anyone to read. And I have to stop.  

So, I started skipping to the middle. 

I write as though I've already gotten the hard part out of the way and I just have to get this darn thing finished. This mental trick (if you want to call it that) allows my fingers to loosen up--literally--as I start typing out the meat of a single idea.  

I guess starting in the middle is a kind of swipe file. Getting a meaty idea fully formed on the page means you're not staring at a blank page anymore. You just need to go back in and connect the ideas. 

Ok back to the top. 

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How to Get More Out of Your Facebook Posts

"Why doesn't anyone see my Facebook posts?" 

I get this question a lot from clients, non-clients, friends, Romans, etc. And I understand why. You write a post telling people what is so great about your business, what you've been up to, something that really matters to you.

You do this because want to create a post  that inspire engagement, that connects with your audience and help them remember you, right? Posts that make them love you, trust you, remember you, CHOOSE YOU!? Any then no one even looks at it???

Frustrating.

When I managed the Facebook page of a nonprofit online resource with a following of about 250,000 fans, I thought about how to get people to look at our posts a lot.

We actually higher than average "engagement" (likes, comments, shares, and clicks on our posts). But I was always looking over my shoulder at the specter of the Facebook Algorithm. 

Via http://postplanner.com--The Facebook algorithm looks JUST like this. For sure. 

Via http://postplanner.com--The Facebook algorithm looks JUST like this. For sure. 

It looks like this, right? In all seriousness though, we know that Facebook curates every single user's feed. It's the reason most people's Facebook posts (whether they be personal or business page posts) don't get seen by all of their friends and fans. 

Another thing we learned while I worked on that awesome site's social media:

This chart is basically saying that if you post something your page, the likelihood that your audience will see it ... has fallen off a cliff. 

This chart is basically saying that if you post something your page, the likelihood that your audience will see it ... has fallen off a cliff. 

Facebook decides what each of its users sees, and it's pretty mum about the exact combination of factors it uses to make those individual decisions. 

But there are still plenty of business pages that get PLENTY of engagement. So, we must know some things. Right?

Here's my point: there isn't one specific format for getting your Facebook posts seen by an audience who might really care about what you have to say. 

What does your audience care about? What matters to them? Or, if you want to think about it like this: 

How does the thing that matters to you HELP them?

What does your message do for them? What does it mean to them?

And this is where studying what others have done can be really helpful and important. 

In fact, studying what other people do is the best way to make a list of what to test on your own Facebook page and other social media profiles. 

So, here I've dissected a couple of Facebook posts. One that got a lot of clicks to the owner's website (which you can view here once you sign up for my list), and one that got a lot of comments on Facebook itself (which you can view here). 

They are both great examples because they garnered lots and lots of engagement--higher than average for the profiles they came from, and higher than average across the entire social media landscape. 

They are also great examples because they served a purpose for the business owners who posted them. 

And they are great examples because they use completely different tactics. But I break down why they worked. 

Test out these tactics for yourself! Let me know how it goes. 

Click the images to download: 

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Why Are You So Busy?

This one's an easy question to answer, right? You're so busy because you have SO MUCH TO DO. 

I hear you loud and clear. I have so much to do, too. I am reading Million Dollar Consulting a little at a time. (I recommend it to just about anyone who wants to start any kind of business.) 

The author, Alan Weiss, posits an underlying reason you may have so much to do that you feel overwhelmed.

But before he shares that reason, he lays out his "unified field theory for consulting success." (By the way, he is so confident that his book will hook you that he reveals the whole shebang on p. 26 of a 267-page book!) 

The theory is six steps long.

Simple, he says, right? "So why don't people abide by the simplicity of excellent consulting and accelerate their careers?" 

Because: 

Dug the Dog. 

Dug the Dog. 

We get distracted. We set a plan for the day, for the week, for the year, and then we find something that seems easy to tick off the list, and we prioritize that instead.

Where does that impulse come from? 

For me, it comes from fear. I'm afraid to set a course and follow through. What if it doesn't work? Who wants to play the long game and lose?

But I've started to learn my lesson about setting aside long-term plans to build my business week after week in favor of quick fixes and just taking any and all new projects that come my way because of the fear that I might not get more business if I say "no" to anything. I hope I'm phasing out the squirrel-chasing part of my business.

Reading Alan's description made me realize I'm far from alone in allowing myself to get distracted by pursuing projects that just don't fit their business models. 

I just wonder, how many other entrepreneurs and consultants have felt like they're chasing squirrels while they're building their businesses? 

Here's Alan again: "The 'squirrel' you see is seldom relevant to your day, is almost impossible to catch, and in the long run actually tastes awful."

 

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Get It Done.

I wrote down my goals during the workshop. I looked at them.

They looked back at me.

In any goal-setting, goal-achieving program, this is usually as far as I get.

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Using Instagram's Geo-Targeting Feature to Identify Leads

This tactic, like many others, is quite simple, but you need to spend some time on it if you really want to start seeing it work for you. 

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1. Where does your target market spend time? Let's say you're product or service is aimed at people who work from home. How do you find them? Where do those people tend to go when they get tired of sitting at home in their PJs but still want to get some serious work done. ... 

I bet you answered this question before you even finished reading it: coffee shops. So, if you start by typing in the behemoth of coffee shops, you'll see you have dozens of spots to explore via Instagram.

Make sure the PLACES tab at top is highlighted when you're searching. 

Make sure the PLACES tab at top is highlighted when you're searching. 

 

This geo-targeting tip allows you to connect with people who are ready to hear about your offers--and you may not have found these leads in other ways, or even by paying for an Instagram ad. 

Remember, when you find a potential lead, you don't need to pitch them in a comment or private message. Just like two or three of their photos and follow them. If they are someone who's genuinely interested in your products or services, chances are they will start to follow you. 

Then, work on posting great photos that represent you and your product. Here are some photo tips. 

Have you tried this tactic for getting noticed? How has it worked for you? 

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Answers to the Most Common Questions about Facebook Ads

We moved, which has resulted in me driving a lot more each day. This gives me extra time to listen to a lot more podcasts. So somewhere within this hectic week, I listened to a terrific episode from Amy Porterfield. Episode number 58 is nearly a year old, but the advice in it is so spot on that I almost choked on my coffee when I heard it. 

Amy takes a question from a fan who leads with, "How do I increase my FB followers?" 

If you've read my post about vanity metrics, you'll know that I hate this question. It turns out, so does the extremely successful (and very succinct!) Amy Porterfield. 

Amy doesn't use the word "hate," though. Here's how she puts it: "This is where we need a reframe."

The reframe: Facebook followers don't translate into the number of clients your business has. Ads can help you build your client base, but only if each of your ads has a clear strategy behind that you implement and monitor, tweaking along the way as you see your results within Facebook Ads Manager. 

As Amy says, " I want to help you see FB as a place where putting in a little bit of money will result in bringing back a lot of money."

Seriously! Or as I have said to new and prospective clients, to friends and family, to my dog Toby as he sits at my feet while I hammer away on my laptop keyboard:

Don't buy a Facebook ad unless you have a clear strategy for how you will receive a return on that investment. If you can't draw a line between that Facebook ad and how it will get prospective buyers/clients in the door, don't spend the dough. 

This doesn't mean you won't have to experiment with some trial and error as you figure out the target audience for your ad, the right text and images, times of day (in some cases), and the most rousing calls to action you can.

But you can only figure these things out if you have a clear goal in mind. You can only know whether the ads are "working" if they are moving you closer to that goal, or if they aren't. 

For example, if you set up an ad with the goal of getting those who see the ad to join your email list, and no one joins your e-mail list, you know the ad didn't work and you need to try something else. 

But I just love how Amy handles this question because she puts to rest the idea that your number of Facebook page likes has much to do at all with the effectiveness of your online marketing. 

Check out the full episode. 

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How Brilliant Mom Beth Anne Schwamberger Grew Her Online Business

I met Beth Anne almost a year ago here in San Diego, and her online business, Brilliant Business Moms, has sky-rocketed since then. 

Whenever I talk to her about BBM or see her online marketing efforts, I think a big reason for her success is that she knows the community she serves and how she helps them. She offers support, tools, and tips for stay-at-home moms who want to grow their side-project businesses. 

I’ve finally learned my lesson when it comes to focusing, and I can tell you that it has made a world of difference for my stress level, my income level, and my ability to balance my work life with my family.

We could all earn from her clarity around who she serves and what she offers as we try to get the most out of our marketing efforts. 

So,  I wanted to give Beth Anne a chance to talk about her strategies in her own words. Below is our Q&A.

And check out her answers to a "lightning round" of 6 work-life balance questions I tossed her way in the video below. 

(Skip to 1:15 to get her Number 1 tip for anyone juggling work and family time.) 

More on

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More from Beth Anne on the birth of her business and what she's learned: 

1. How did you decide to start your business? Did you have a moment of inspiration or did it evolve? 

Since we couldn’t find a resource that really did that in detail, we decided to create our own—the Brilliant Business Moms podcast.

My business has completely evolved! It's definitely been a "one thing led to another" type of scenario! Initially, I started out with an Etsy shop selling butterfly terrarium kits. My sister and I opened that shop together in November of 2012. 

We made some side income from our shop, but we wanted to grow it more. We thought a mommy blog focused on outdoor activities would be the perfect way to get more traffic and sales for our shop!

Well... it turns out growing a mommy blog is much harder than we anticipated! After several months of crazy hard work in early 2015, we realized we needed to find a way to pick the brains of other Mompreneurs and figure out how they were growing their online businesses. Since we couldn't find a resource that really did that in detail, we decided to create our own--the Brilliant Business Moms podcast.

Through serving the community at BBM, we discovered we could help our audience solve the problems of time management as Mamapreneurs--so our book and planner were born. Then, I created other digital products such as the Get-Found Guide to Etsy, and more recently, courses on Pinterest and Facebook.

I think, though, that very quickly after starting the podcast, I realized that we had something special. For the first time, Sarah and I were building a true community online, and we were so committed to serving the women that came into our path. From that point forward, the business became much more clear - because we knew who our audience was - and it was just a matter of helping them and serving them well.

 

2.  One time you told me you tell yourself, "I'm just trying to teach that lady that was me, one year ago." If you could go back a year and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be? 

Remember this: It’s not the idea that’s bad, it’s your lack of focus that’s bad.

Focus! Seriously, it's that simple. I wish I would have dug into Pinterest wholeheartedly sooner, and I wish I would have created a course sooner. Instead, I pursued all sorts of little ideas at once. Some worked out,and some didn't. But hindsight is 20/20. 

Also, I think it's much easier to spot lack of focus in others versus yourself. I look at the businesses of other Mamapreneurs all the time and do a facepalm because they're pursuing 3 completely separate things at once.

Don't do it. Give your initial idea a fair chance by diving in wholeheartedly. Until you've spent at least 150 hours doing nothing but marketing your business, you can't say you gave it a fair shot.

Remember this: "It's not the idea that's bad, it's your lack of focus that's bad." Give your idea room to flourish. Water it with loads of outreach and marketing, and if it still doesn't work, it may just need some tweaks. Don't give up so easily. Dig deeper instead of digging a new hole.

 

3. What would you cite as the big pivot point for your business? A moment that happened inside, or a big win that really made you feel like you were on your way? 

There are so many women out there I can help, and I’m now much more confident in my ability to find them and market to them online.

I think the big pivot for me happened quite recently! It was really with the launch of my first course which happened at the beginning of March. I was amazed at how many of my loyal audience members showed up for the webinar, and how many of them said yes to the course! It made me realize how important it is to build relationships and serve your audience well. If you show them how much you have to offer, they won't mind voting with their wallet. Seriously, I feel so grateful for them!

And part two of that pivot is this: I'm focusing on one signature product right now. Instead of going back to the drawing board and creating something brand new, I will continue to market my new course for the next 6 months. There are so many women out there I can help, and I'm now much more confident in my ability to find them and market to them online.

 

4. What is the accomplishment that you're most proud of up to this point?  

I have no idea how I got lucky enough to know all of the kindest, most helpful ladies online, but somehow I did!

I've finally learned my lesson when it comes to focusing, and I can tell you that it has made a world of difference for my stress level, my income level, and my ability to balance my work life with my family.

It sounds strange to list "people" as an accomplishment, but I'm really most proud of the Brilliant Business Moms community! They're amazing! People tell us all the time that our private Facebook group is full of the nicest people around, and that makes me so happy. I have no idea how I got lucky enough to know all of the kindest, most helpful ladies online, but somehow I did!

Seriously, I'm so proud of them!

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Getting Comfortable With Failure

I just got back from a Meetup of budding entrepreneurs. A couple of them volunteered for the "hot seat" at our meeting: they spent 3-5 minutes talking about their business idea, and asking for any and all advice from the rest of us on how to move forward. 

Each of these businesspeople had an idea, a great and powerful idea. But they expressed fear about making a commitment to bring that idea to life. They were afraid they weren't ready. They were afraid to try something and find that it didn't work. They were afraid that trying something and finding that it doesn't work reflects back on them and means that they are a failure. 

They didn't say it exactly like that, but I recognized those fears because I have them, too, every single day.

The War of Art, which I've been listening to as an audiobook, has been helping me recognize those fears so that I can face them. It's been especially good at teaching me that trying something and having it completely and utterly fail does not mean that I am a failure. It just means that I need to try a lot of things before I find the thing that doesn't fail. 

So what does this have to do with Bob Dylan?

Well, I've noticed over years of being his fan that Bob Dylan's music is not just loved and enjoyed. Bob Dylan himself is revered as an unassailable genius. Inspired. 

"This is an artist whose working process has been as private as his personal life," said a New York Times article this past Sunday. Maybe for this reason, I find that lovers of Dylan's music always talk about Dylan like he's someone who doesn't have to work to produce the great music he's created over the decades. It just comes out. 

Internalizing that notion has been dangerous to my survival. Because over the years it's made me feel like if I don't "get it right" right away, I shouldn't bother at all. This despite the fact that another writer a lot of people admire, Ernest Hemingway, once said,

Don’t get discouraged because there’s a lot of mechanical work to writing. There is, and you can’t get out of it. I rewrote the first part of A Farewell to Arms at least fifty times. You’ve got to work it over. The first draft of anything is shit.
— http://quoteinvestigator.com/2015/09/20/draft/

The Times article provides evidence that the Hemingway quote is as true for Bob Dylan as it is for any of us.

Dozens of rewrites track the evolution of even minor songs like “Dignity,” which went through more than 40 pages of changes but was still cut from the 1989 album ‘Oh Mercy.’

I had to read that line twice.

Bob Dylan worked through more than 40 pages of changes to a single song. And then he cut the song from the album. 

Rewrites and failures happen with the trying. Trying and failing go together. Not trying and not failing just mean that you never get to succeed, either. That is what I'm realizing. Some days when I feel like I've really messed up or I'm never going to figure anything out, that realization provides no comfort. Trying just feels too hard and the potential for success doesn't feel worth it. 

But today, as I watched other budding entrepreneurs with potentially life-changing ideas peer wide-eyed over the edge, look back up at the group around the table, and say, "Do you really expect me to jump off this thing??" it gives me a lot of comfort.

Jumping feels scary and of course it does! If you jump off a cliff, you will probably land on your face. Until the time that you jump and you don't land on your face. I'm still waiting for that time, let me tell you. But! 

The difference between Bob Dylan and many other potentially great songwriters and performers is that Dylan doesn't stop at "potential," and he never has. That may even be the secret reason people are so fascinated with him, although the mysteriousness probably also doesn't hurt. But he doesn't let the second-guessing stop him before he can get started. That makes him different. 

Although may I just point out: Dylan has landed on his face MANY times, sometimes privately, sometimes in front of everyone. There was the example of the song above. There was Self Portrait.

And I myself witnessed an instance of Bob Dylan face-flatness. It was the time my friends and I saw him perform three summers ago at Jones Beach. He sounded so bad that we left early. On the way out my friend Daniel made the comment you see below on this Instagram photo. 

LOLz

LOLz

Revered genius Bob Dylan fails on a consistent basis. I guess I can, too. 

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What Is The Key to Producing "Binge-Worthy" Content?

Why is this podcast binge-worthy? 

Why is this podcast binge-worthy? 

I listen to a lot of podcasts. Maybe you watch a lot of YouTube videos or stream a lot of TV shows.

The thing these three kinds of media have in common is that they have the potential to be "binge-able": you can find yourself playing the back catalog for hours until you've heard or seen every minute. 

They feel like a book that you just can't put down. You just have to know what happens. 

When you blog, one of your aims should be to create binge-worthy content. I know it's one of mine.

I don't want to create a blog that just anyone can binge on. I want to create a blog that my ideal client just can't stop reading; she's compelled to immediately start scouring the back catalog. 

How does one do this? 

I thought I'd try to figure it out by looking at my own experience. The shows I've binged on all have one thing in common--a well-defined format. The format allows their audience to know what they will get from the show, and it allows their shows to appeal to a narrow audience. A narrow audience means a smaller audience, perhaps, but it also means a much more passionate, devoted audience.

These are people who love talking about and thinking about your content, who will share it across social media, talk to their friends and family about it. They are advocates. 

One show that I think epitomizes this theory is the podcast Denzel Washington Is the Greatest Actor of All Time Period. The format: review each Denzel Washington movie in alphabetical order.  

That's... pretty narrowly focused. 

But, because the hosts are smart, funny, and in show-business themselves, they are able to discuss an endless array of issues within this frame that involving show-business, race and ethnicity, movie tropes and stereotypes, talent, luck, fandom, making it as an artist, and much, much more.

So, because DWITGAOATP has an crystal-clear format that its hosts are committed to, all those topics don't seem disorganized or unrelated to each other. They all relate back to the show's reason for being. 

I think a blog can cultivate the same kind of following by promising a certain format and then continue to deliver within that framework. 

What do you think? 

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One Simple Change That Will Make You Feel 100% More Organized

I got this great tip from Cassie Nevitt: Color-code your calendar.

Maybe you already color-code yours--but I bet you don't do it this way.

Cassie's tip was to color-code based on the category of the activity, so that at a glance, you can see the type of week you're going to have and can mentally prepare for it. 

Here's this week for me (I covered up names for privacy's sake): 

 

This is my coding system: 

  • Blue: self-care
  • Red: Husband not here =  me taking care of all baby-related needs
  • Light Red: Time with husband
  • Orange: Time With family
  • Green: Revenue-generating time 
  • Peach: Planning, non-business
  • Gray: Pitching, drumming up business, selling
  • Turquoise: Writing
  • Yellow: Education, planning for my business
  • Lilac: Meeting not otherwise covered 

This color-coding system has changed the way I schedule my time.

For example, blue is my color for "self-care." Whenever I don't see any blue in my week or day, I find a place to shove some blue in to make sure I don't go insane. 

Do you have a color-coding scheme that brings order to your life? Let me know what it is in the comments! 

 

 

 

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Re-Committing to Your Goals and "The Fresh Start Effect"

It's almost March, which means this year is officially no longer new. Remember all of those inspiring Instagram posts on Jan. 1 about how this was page 1 of a 365-page book, like this one? 

Today is Day 54 of 2016. Now is the time when we start to feel less like the photo above, and more like the photo below. 

 

Getting punched in the mouth happens to me almost every day that I try. I flail around every time it happens, but that doesn't make it hurt any less. In fact, flailing around just makes it take longer for me to regain my balance. 

The "Fresh Start Effect" allows us to reset and re-commit to our goals. Hear more about how to replicate the "fresh start" without needing to wait for another new year or milestone.

Here's a tool I'm using every day to deal with getting punched in the mouth (also inspired by James Altucher, the podcaster you heard if you clicked the link above).

Writing 10 ideas every day. I like to do this early in my workday. Here's a method for practicing.  

What I get out of this: A safe space to spout as many bad ideas as I can think of. Not just an outlet for creativity, but a kickstart for it.

Ten minutes of absolute freedom from self-criticism. Room to be creative. Room to sound like an idiot. 

 

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The Difference Between “Boost Post” and “Boost Your Posts” in Facebook Ad Manager

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Facebook ads: Have you thought about using them? Even if you have a $5 budget to begin with, I encourage you to test them out. Not just because you'll reach more people. A colleague at my co-working space recently reminded me what else you get for your $5: When you buy an ad, you get a TON of information on who responds to your ads. That information may surprise you. Are you reaching people you didn't expect? Not reaching the people you expected to? 

Both of those insights allow you to take action, either to experiment with your messaging to reach the people you really want to reach, or to re-assess whether your target market is different from what you thought it was. 

Those are actionable metrics, as opposed to the vanity metrics I talked about in previous posts. 

So buying ads can be useful even if you don't make a single sale. (Although odds are you will make a sale if you are sharing good content with a simple call-to-action.)

Today I'm talking about dipping your toe into ad-buying, and a simple what-not-to-do. Don't click on "Boost Post" at the bottom right corner of one of your Facebook posts. Instead, go to ads.facebook.com and click "Boost Your Posts."  Here's why. 

If you click "Boost Post," here are the options you get: 

If you go to ads.facebook.com and click "Boost Your Posts," you get about 8 bazillion more options. (Yes, 8 bazillion is the official number from Facebook's own team.) 

Those include: 

"Detailed target" which allows you to find people who engage in some pretty specific behaviors. Such as... people who are likely to watch home improvement shows and have also recently bought a home in a particular zip code.

That's pretty specific targeting for, say, an interior designer. And it's just the kind of targeting you don't get if you click on "Boost Post" at the bottom right of the post itself.

So don't do it. 

 

 

 

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Humans of New York: Why People Who Hate Facebook Pages for Marketing Should Take a Second Look

Do you know what Humans of New York is? If you use Facebook as part of your strategy for reaching people online, maybe you think that HONY is the exception that proves the rule. 

That's because while most posts from Facebook brand pages have very low engagement rates (say about 3-5% of your total number of Facebook fans), HONY sees a 15 to 20% engagement rate, including likes, comments, and shares. Tons and tons of shares.

Yes, HONY is the exception that proves the rule at the moment. I think that has at least as much to do with the strategy (or lack of strategy) that businesses execute using their Facebook pages as it does with whether Facebook "decides" to show your business posts to your friends and fans. 

What do I mean? 

HONY founder Brandon Stanton could ask his subjects anything, and he probably asks them a whole lot of things. But he only shares the photos and phrases that he knows will resonate with his audience. He knows what will matter to us, his audience, and he thinks from our point of view. 

He said as much when the New York Times talked to him last year after he shared a photo of a teenager who mentioned the principal of his school inspired him. 

Mr. Stanton noted that while he often asks people about the influences in their lives, few younger people think to give credit to a teacher. “It resonated with me, and therefore I knew it was going to resonate with other people,” he said.

The Times interviewed Stanton because he was able to raise over $1 million dollars for the school whose principal was mentioned in the Facebook post. 

I'd say that's pretty incredible engagement. ... So why do some people still claim that Facebook doesn't allow them to reach their audience? 

It goes back to something I've pointed out before: your content competes with content from all over the web. It also competes with your brother-in-law's fishing trip photos, reminders that it's a colleagues birthday, an inspirational quote your mom just shared.... 

But rather than giving up on Facebook for being too crowded, what if you created content that resonated in a way that makes us, your audience, stop scrolling and pause for a second on what you had to say? How do you do that? 

Well, for one thing, you have to believe that what you're sharing matters. And then you have to tell us why it matters. Usually it matters because this tidbit, photo, idea, insight, or piece of knowledge is going to make our lives better in some way. 

One way to do this by writing a post that solves a problem. In fact, that's what I'm doing here: I'm trying to help those of you who aren't sure how to connect with your audience on Facebook. 

While HONY posts don't "solve a problem," they do have something in common with problem-solving posts: they make a connection. 

The connection in a HONY post is between the photo subject and the audience. And Stanton has gotten very good at figuring out what will facilitate that connection. That's the reason he sees so many shares on each post: audience members "get" something about the subject, and it's something they want their social connections to get, too. 

So, when you're developing your calendar for Facebook, remember what you want your audience to do: stop and click. How you connect with them is up to you but putting yourself in their shoes, and asking currently clients what they have found most helpful are two good ways to create posts that bring value to your audience and help them develop trust in you. 

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The Lesson to Be Learned From This Silly Bio Generator (and 1 Great Tip that Helps Your Bio to Write Itself)

Maybe you heard about this randomized Tumblr, which parodies the tone of so many bios you see across Twitter and Instagram. If not, give it a try! I will wait. 

Well, when I saw this, I blushed. That's because my Twitter bio used to be ... enigmatic. At one point, it absolutely did have the word "intersection" in it. Eventually, it said something like:

 

"Steady hand. Dodgers fan. Ladies man." 

 

 

So, besides the fact that this bio is twee, there's another reason that this is a dumb way to write a bio. 

And learning this lesson is KEY to finding and building your audience. 

Because this is my Twitter bio now:

The difference? I watched Amy Schmittauer's video How to Write a Bio that Attracts the Right Following." 

Her advice: a good 140-character bio contains

  • What you do
  • Why it matters
  • And (importantly!) what potential followers CAN EXPECT to see you tweet

That last element is so helpful because it really allows the bio to write itself. Many people take Twitter "bio" to mean: cramming my life story and accomplishments into 140 characters. (That is why I gave up after a while and just wrote some random lyrics to a song I like.) 

But that is NOT what bio means when it comes to social media profiles. Whatever you write in the bio is searchable, which means, once again, you need to think like your audience.

You should include keywords and hashtags that your potential clients might search for. And once you've popped up in that potential client's search because you included those relevant keywords, the next step is to hook them as a follower by letting them know exactly what to expect.

"I tweet travel tips" or "I answer FAQs about applying for college." Or whatever it is that you do that is of use TO THEM. Take it away, Amy: 

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