Showing posts with label social-media. Show all posts
Showing posts with label social-media. Show all posts

Lowdown on Secret Pinterest Boards

The latest feature from Pinterest is a secret board. This board is for 'yours eyes only' and will only be visible to fellow pinners you invite. In fact, nothing pinned to secret boards shows up in search results or feeds.

Right now, three secret boards are allowed per user. You can easily make secret boards public but beware -- this action cannot be undone!

Read the infographic below for more information about secret boards on Pinterest. (Click on the image to view full size.)

LediaMedia's-Lowdown-on-Secret-Pinterest-Boards


Will you be using the secret board feature? Why or why not? Please share in the comments below.

My 5 Fave #Election2012 Tweets (So Far)


Who else isn't watching election coverage on TV tonight? I'm relying on my Twitter network to keep me in the know about #Election2012.

Being the Social Media nerd I am, three different hashtags are blowing up my TweetDeck and I'm almost overwhelmed by the mix of emotion, humor, facts, and discussion ... Know what else is blowing my mind? Some rad examples of social media engagement and promotion in real time. Thanks Obama!

Here are a few of my favorite tweets from You Decide 2012 Presidential Election Night (So Far):


Why I like this Tweet: it is downright offensive... but it grabs your attention. It's risky (and most people aren't willing to take that bet) but it appears to have worked. 232 Retweets and 41 Favorites -- that's a lot of shares for someone called Cocaine Papii.



  
Why I like this Tweet: Cristin is a twiend of mine and Community Manager for Chevy. This Tweet shares an interesting statistic as well as a personal element. To me, it shows the perfect line between professional and personal. This is not easy to do.




Why I like this Tweet: Amber is live tweeting the election coverage (thanks girl). Less than a minute after this was Tweeted it was shared. That is the definition of influence! This Tweet, followed by the action of her Follower, reinforces Amber's online reputation for being 'in-the-know'. Beautiful!




Why I like this Tweet: Alyssa Milano is a great example of a celebrity who uses Social Media 'right'. She leverages the platform to bring awareness to causes she believes in and actually shares relevant information with her followers. This single Tweet has over 5K Retweets and over 300 Favorites since 2 PM today (and the night's not over). This single Tweet as been shared for nine hours and is still going. How many clicks do you think that link received? How many new followers did @stevesilberman get? What I would give to look at that data!



 Why I like this Tweet: What a clever way to encourage social sharing -- mirror the presidential race with a social competition.

I also think this Tweet is very telling about the alleged success of Obama's social campaign.

Do you think the RTs from @FollowMeObama are foreshadowing to the actual results? Why or why not? Let me know your thoughts and share your favorite #Election2012 Tweets in the comments.

The Top 5 Reasons Why List Posts Are Amazing

This is a guest post from Ryan Brock.

List posts provide structure to your reads, among other things.
I've been writing these words you're reading for weeks. Months, even. When you write and edit and manage content for a living, it's the hardest thing in the world to make time for something simple like a guest post. They say the same is true for designers, or any other creative, for that matter. I'll sit down at my computer with a list of things to do - edit those articles for a client, write a whitepaper, knock out a guest post - and the part of the list that makes me no money - the guest post - always takes lowest priority.

So every time I would find ten or 15 minutes to work, I'd try to make headway on this post. Every time, I'd have an inclination to take it one way or another. I'd want to write about the five rules of Internet style one day, or about 10 tips for writing engaging copy. I was never quite satisfied with the stuff I was coming up with, but I did notice one obvious trend: no matter where my mind wandered, I was making lists each time.

This is funny to me, because you hear professional writers complaining ALL THE TIME about how list posts suck, how they are expected and constricting. I couldn't agree more about the expected and constricting bit, but I happen to think that expected and constricting can be very good things on the web. With all the list post hate out there, I think our numbered pals could use a champion. Might as well be me.

So instead of sharing any of the thoughts I originally had for this guest post, I thought I would offer up these, the TOP 5 REASONS WHY LIST POSTS ARE AMAZING AND YOU SHOULD ALL STOP COMPLAINING:

5. They fill space.
Think about how many times you've visited sites with lists that make you click through to advance to the next item. You do it because you're a slave to lists (more on that in a bit), and the publishers rake in the ad money as you click away. For that reason, many writers make it a goal to fit their content into lists that are easy to split. But even for sites that don't split their lists up - Cracked comes to mind - it's so much easier for a writer to conceive an entire article if that writer can work toward a goal of 5 widgets or 10 whatsits. It's like you get 5 or 10 different opportunities to work in a new intro and conclusion, and that means list posts basically write themselves. For writers who turn out 10-15 articles a day, that's a plus.

4. The structure is convenient for readers.
But beyond the convenience lists offer writers, there is a certain implicit convenience that readers derive from list posts. In my book, Nothing New: An Irreverent History of Storytelling and Social Media, I presented the story of Virgil's Aeneid as an early, early example of what we now call content marketing. With the Aeneid, Virgil and the emperor Augustus were able to sway the hearts of the newly-founded empire's subjects by telling a great story with a poem. That poem was written to match Homer's Greek epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, and it was because they fit the epic mould that the people found it so easy to buy into the message. Because the Romans loved Greek stuff, they were enticed by the structure of the Aeneid as much as they were by the message. Skip forward a few thousand years, and it could be that the workaday people of the social web would identify the list post as their comfortable structure of choice. They're quick, they're familiar, and they allow for easy skimming. Win, win, triple win.

Controversy is a great way to get readers to comment.
3. Ranked lists cause controversy.
When you rank a list post, you automatically double its effectiveness as a shareable piece of content. You could write a post chronicling your five favorite sci-fi movies, or you could rank your choices and title the post something like "THE TOP 5 SCI-FI MOVIES OF ALL TIME FOREVER SHUT UP." The latter decision will result in plenty of people ready to correct you with a comment. The same people will share your list, ranting about how wrong you are, and they'll get their friends in on all the engagement. You, meanwhile, will sit back and watch your hits explode. Controversy can be very, very good on the web.

2. Depth isn't great for a single blog post.
Some critics lambast list posts because of their shallow nature. "You can't really talk much about anything in enough detail if you try to cram so many different points into a single post," they complain. That's exactly right! To writers of web content, it's a losing battle to try to share something completely revolutionary in just 500-800 words. Try writing for an engineering blog and teaching trained professionals how to use Auto CAD or something like that, and you're just opening yourself up to ridicule. List posts can help writers keep their content broad enough to have mass appeal, but interesting enough to keep even your more informed parties engaged.

1. You are reading this right now.
Speaking of keeping readers engaged, list posts are like irresistible content honey to hungry reader bears. They're addictive and they tap into that very deep, completionist part of our brain that wants to learn as much it can and see things through to their end. Even if you didn't get much from this post, you're still reading it, and I'd be willing to bet that the biggest reason you are can be found in the numbers 5-1 above. Ranked lists encourage readers to keep going, to see if their thoughts or choices might be found on a list. The fact that you are still here reading, even if you completely disagree with me, proves my point quite well.

Now is the part of the post where I invite you to add your thoughts in the comments below. Do you agree that list posts are effective? Do you disagree? Would you add to my list, or take away from it, or maybe switch the order up? Have at it. Those sorts of comments are what make list posts just so darned great.



About the Author
Ryan Brock (@ryanbrock)

Ryan Brock is the founder and CEO of Metonymy Media, a group of creative writers and literary geeks turned pro. Ryan spends his days writing and editing for companies of all sizes, and is also the co-author of Nothing New: An Irreverent History of Storytelling and Social Media. He hates the taste of black licorice.

How to Find Your Target Audience on Social Media

social media target audience
Do you know how to find your target audience on different social media platforms?

Social media is a party and each platform has a different dress code. Do you know which party you target audience will be attending? Better yet, do you know what to wear? Will you know what to talk about once you get there?

All silliness aside, it's important to know what conversation is happening around your area of expertise and who is participating in said conversation. Read on as I explain how to find your target audience on social media in four relatively simple steps.

If you haven't done your homework, finding your target audience on social media channels will be two things: difficult and useless. Know your customer intimately before jumping into the social media pool. Why? Each platform is a different community with different uses and etiquette; you need to know your target audience's well in order to predict their social community preferences and behavior.

1. Research. Identify conversation topics surrounding your area of expertise as well as the people participating (better yet, leading) those conversations.

Here are a few research questions to get you started:
  • What is my target audience interested in? Narrowminded thinking here is a no-no! What does your target audience watch on TV? What is their favorite type of food? What stores do they frequent? What are some of their hobbies? Don't just think professionally; explore their personal interests as well.
  • What is my target audience searching for online? Don't only use Google as a data reference point here. Be sure to collect information from Bing as well.
  • What are some issues or problems that my target audience faces? The idea here is to figure out how to help them; today's consumers love solutions and resourcefulness.

2. Find targeted social keywords. After you've completed your target audience research (you know them intimately, right?), the next step involves more research. This is wonderful for data nerds like myself! Think of/look at a typical conversation taking place over your targeted audience's preferred platform.
  • Find social keywords that are frequently used in the social conversation surrounding your area of expertise. Pay attention to phrasing and tone.
  • It's important to change your mindset from search engines to people when approaching social keywords. Keep the keywords and phrases conversational. How do people in your niche talk? Is it formal, informal? Any common slang or industry terminally used often? The idea here is to pick keywords that will attract your target audience, not necessarily your website.
  • This list of social keywords will also be used as a "cheat sheet" when approaching your targeted audience. If you talk like them and share their interests, they are likely to accept you into their circle faster.
  • Remember, it's okay to have keywords that are both SEO and social.

3. Identify conversations. Now that you know what your target audience is talking about and how they talk, it's time to find out where they are having this conversation. This step is crucial: you don't waste time putting together a social media campaign for a conversation that isn't happening. Worse yet, that is happening but not where you think it is.
  • Use Social Mention to identify and track social conversations around your niche and keywords. This tool uses data from more than 100 different platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Digg and will help show where the conversation is happening. Bonus: You can export your searches to a CSV file directly from the site.
  • Set up Google Alerts for your targeted social and SEO keywords for additional conversation monitoring.

4. Join conversations. Now that you know where the conversation(s) are happening, join them! Contribute to the conversation. Show your target audience that you know your stuff, are resourceful, helpful, and trustworthy.

Here are a few conversation starters:
  • Follow them on social platforms and then introduce yourself
  • Comment on blog posts they share and publish
  • Publish content that answers their questions and/or fulfills a need
  • Share relevant information with them in the format they prefer

How do you find target audiences online? Please share in the comments below.

Follow Friday for September 21, 2012

Here are my Follow Friday picks for this week and why you should follow them (in 140 Characters or less):

@NeRoyMartin



New to Twitter and gets engagement right. He continues the convo while while sharing good social media/PR info.






@butterfly_89000


Music blogger w a love of dubstep that's infectious. Stepped up in a major this week. Finds rad Honey Boo Boo gifs. Read her work: http://bit.ly/VlRiZF






@talknerdy2mebb

Big Brother lover. Had fun live tweeting during #BB14. Check out their big bro #tumblr #blog here: http://bit.ly/UmK3CK Thnx 4 gr8 summer




@meganenemies


@CCDerbyGirl ROCKSTAR. Incredible editor. She's the mistress of content quality & absolutely hilarious. Peep her derby bio page: http://bit.ly/QsvKai





 
@pamelareilly


Team still talking abt her #BIN2012 prezi. Rad woman, natural healing expert. I trust her advice. How can she help YOU? Find out: http://bit.ly/Unou0l





Who should I follow and why? Please share handle and info in the comments below or tweet me (@lediamedia). I'm always interested in growing my network!

Happy Friday!

Drive Traffic to Your Site Using Pinterest

Always include the pin source on Pinterest.
Always include the pin source - it's a Pinterest best practice.
Pinterest continues to be a valuable tool for marketers. According to Wayfair, Pinterest referrals spend 70% more than visitors referred from non-social channels, including search, according to industry reports. This is a prime opportunity -- seize it!
Here is the lowdown to drive traffic to your website using Pinterest.

Pin Images Correctly to Pack a Punch

Always include the image source when pinning. If you do nothing else I suggest from this post, please make sure to do this! This creates a backlink to the site hosting the image. Pinners click the image for more information and are redirected to host site (hello traffic!). Consider targeted landing pages for really cool, highly shareable images (cough, infographics) for better tracking. This will be especially useful if you are are just getting started on Pinterest.

Use descriptive captions. What do I mean by descriptive captions? Write a clear description of the image and keyword stuff the hell out of it. That's right, use as many keywords as you think are necessary for your image to show up in Pinterest search. The same goes for board titles and board descriptions.
  • Ditch the cutesie board title and description for one that is searchable; make part of the caption cutesie if you must. 
  • You should also include a link back to your website with a call to action in each caption. Example: "For more information on this glitter-covered clutch, check out [URL]."
  • Have an image relevant for multiple keyword sets? That's easy -- pin the image on separate boards with unique, keyword-targeted captions for each.

Ask for image credit from haters. If you come across an image that is yours and doesn't link back to your website, contact the pinner and ask for an edit. Provide them with all information needed make the update easy. The easier it will be, the more likely they are to comply. Remind them that pinning without credit is really lame and can damage their community reputation.

BONUS: You can instantly check out your site's Pinterest back links by typing http://pinterest.com/source/yourdomain.com/ into your browser. Make sure to replace 'yourdomain.com' with your actual domain. Make sure to like those pins and thank the pinner for sharing!

The 1/10 Ratio

It's perfectly acceptable (and encouraged) to share your own images on your pin boards. What's less acecptable is cramming your boards full of your own content. It tends to turn users off and can ding your community credibility. Don't worry though -- there is a simple solution!

Pin your stuff and then pin others' more. Abide by the 1/10 Ratio: for every one pin that's your own content, pin ten that aren't.

This is important for a few reasons. First: people check out who is linking to them and are more likely to visit your board and then your website. Second: people like to share content where they are mentioned, so this increases the odds of promotion. It also:
  • Adds variety to your board.
  • Adds credibility to your brand: people strongly dislike (I'd venture to say dis-trust) overt self-promotion.
  • Check out Pinterest's etiquette page for more information.

Publish Web Content with Images

Fact: content containing images is more popular than content without images. Fact: nothing from your site will be shared on Pinterest without images. Publish content with images. It's that simple.

Tell me what you pinned while I rub your feet.
Include shareable images with your web content. Ryan Gosling demands it.

 

Getting Started

If you don't know where to start when building a pin board, start with the content you already have -- the images from your website! If your posts are void of images, take the time to go through them and add them.

A few more ideas:
  • Create custom images for your post that include the title.
  • Include website URL in your profile.
  • Pin a coupon that requires a visit to a targeted landing page on your site.
  • Bust writer's block by performing a Pinterest search on relevant keywords for your niche. Note which pins get the most repins and comments. Write content on these hot topics and then pin it to your board.
  • For information on finding free images, click here.

Now that you're good to go, please follow and contribute to my 'What's Your Favorite Color' pin board! Once you follow the board, I will add you as an contributor. Happy pinning!  

How have you used Pinterest to increase traffic to your website? Please share in the comments below.

Optimize Your Social Presence

There are dozens of social networking sites; so many, in fact, that it can get difficult to keep track of all of them. The good news is that you don't have to! Stick with those best suited to your needs and work from there.


Here are a few simple ways to optimize your social presence.

Create a social presence landing page

"If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to tweet about it, does it a make a sound?" No! Make it easy for people to find you. Create a digital portfolio to make it easy for Internet creepers everywhere! Bonus: linking to a single portfolio page will clear up email signature clutter. I suggest:
  • Vizify: this is a relatively new, free service that gives digital portfolios a visual pop. You can link to 'Big Three' networks, add in quotes, photos, work history, and statistics.
I love the layout of my Vizify bio page.
  • About.me: is the better known free digital portfolio site used by millions (and counting). Upload a short bio about yourself and link to all of your social sites. You can also quickly gauge your influence when logged into the dashboard; About.me shows your Klout, True Reach, Amplification, and Network scores.

Use the same username or handle on all networks

This might be common sense but you'd be amazed at how many people do not do this! Using the same username or handle (in my case, Lediamedia) is important for consistency. It helps your personal brand pack a punch and makes it much easier for people to find you on differing platforms.
  • If you haven't picked a handle or username yet, do it!
  • Even if you don't plan on using a particular platform, I highly recommend reserving your handle or username. You never know what platforms will become relevant to your needs in the future.
  • Here's a list of social networking sites from Wikipedia to get you started.

Know what makes each platform tick

Do not treat every social network the same. I repeat, do not post the exact same thing to every network. Hashtags belong on Twitter, not Facebook. Updates on what you just ate do not belong on LinkedIn. Ignoring this fact will make you look like an idiot and could affect your online credibility.

Know the purpose for each network and write original posts for each one. This does not mean you have to share four different articles on four different networks; this simply means that sharing on Twitter will look different than sharing on LinkedIn or Facebook.

  • Start with "The Big Four": Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. Check out the above funny photo for quick reference.
  • Know where your target audience is hanging out and join the party. This will require research on your part. If no one interested in your product/service is using Pinterest, maybe it's not the right place for your updates.
  • Find great content, share it everywhere (with slight tweaks). Re-write the post for each platform.

How have you optimized your social presence? Please share in the comments below.

Using ifttt for Inbound Marketing (and other ideas)

Have you ever wished all of your social networks and apps could play nice with each other? Now they can, thanks to ifttt (If This Then That). You can create recipes (or hacks) to connect two favorite networks/apps together like never before. Ahh, synergy.


What is IFTTT?

A sort of “digital duct tape” according to Linden Tibbets, the app’s creator, If This Then That (ifttt) allows you to connect two services you are already using together. Mix and match apps and platforms to create customized recipes quickly and easily. They partnered with Buffer last November, making future task scheduling and updating possible. (Totally sci-fi!) Searching for public recipes from their website is easy, and so is creating your own. Each of the 50 channels have pre-selcted options to choose from making it nearly impossible to mess up.

What can you use it for?

Use ifttt for productivity/automation, inbound marketing, and content curation.

1. Productivity / Automation
This is the most obvious use of ifttt. Use recipes to help automate tasks. Here are some examples:
  • Post a photo to Instagram and have it automatically publish to Tumblr.
  • Receive a text message five minutes before your favorite show starts.
  • Tagged Facebook photos are saved to a specified Dropbox folder.
  • Text 'mileage' to ifttt and then record mileage on your Google Calendar.
  • Receive notification if it's going to rain.
  • Save email attachments automatically to Evernote.
Believe me, the possibilities here are about endless! Check out and use some of the automation recipes I've made here. FYI creating a hashtag archive in Evernote is one of them.

2. Inbound Marketing
If This Then That is a potentially powerful resource for inbound marketers. Why? You can create hundreds of recipes with a variety of triggers to help with social listening and influencer monitoring.

Let's say you are in the insurance business and want to know every time someone tweets about looking for a new insurance plan. You can set up an alert (text, email, new note in Evernote, etc.) with the trigger "looking for new insurance plan" from multiple social platforms.

Here are a few more inbound marketing recipes to try:
  • Receive immediate notifications for top 'frequently asked questions' in your industry appearing on various social platforms.
  • Send tweets mentioning specific keywords and phrases directly to your phone.
  • Keep a running list of all the people your targeted influencers talk to inside Dropbox (so you can talk to them, too).

3. Content Curation 
That's a fancy way of saying 'finding and sharing the most relevant, useful information with a variety of people on a variety of platforms'. It's important to keep an open mind when it comes to thinking about content. Most conjure up images of blog posts, but content includes everything from photos to videos, podcasts, presentations, etc. For a more detailed description of content curation, check out this post.

Use ifttt to do the heavy lifting of finding, sorting, and uploading content.  Here are a few of my ideas:
  • Send links you post on Twitter to a specific Evernote notebook for archiving.
  • Keep all the photos you like (not just post) on Instagram in a single folder in dropbox.
  • Starring a tweet with a link automatically adds a Delicious bookmark.
  • Upload a video to your YouTube account then that video is automatically published on your WordPress site.
  • Set up special keyword triggers for your RSS feed to be sent to specific (and separate) folders.

The recipes for inbound marketing, content curation, and automation seem endless. What are some recipes that you've made? Please share them below in the comments.

How To Organize Your Google+ Circles

I'm still not using Google+.

I know, I know, many of you are shaking your heads in disbelief right now.  What can I say? It didn't live up to the hype the first few times I used it and I didn't feel like learning yet another social platform.

It seems now that my hand has been forced because all the major and minor players in my industry (all things social media, branding, marketing, SEO) are on Google+. I'm not happy about it but adapting is all part of the job.

Photobucket

I hope the following information is helpful for Google+ n00bs like me. Read on to get your Google+ Circles organized and ready to use.

Organizing Your Google+ Circles


What is a Circle?
 

According to Google, "Google+ Circles help you organize everyone according to your real-life social connections. Create circles for every group of people in your life from family to music buddies or alumni. Then you can share relevant content with the right people and find the content you're interested in. Circles allow you to share an engagement announcement with just your friends and family circles or find a post from a friend from your book club circle about a great new author."

Long story short: Google+ Circles are Twitter or Facebook Lists. Use circles to stay organized and share relevant content with relevant people.

The secret to Google+ success is niche organization.

Using Circles when sharing allows you to target specific audiences, and makes sure you stay relevant to the people who are seeing your posts.

Tips For Organizing Your Circles

  1. Add a Following Circle. This is the perfect circle to put those who follow you on Google+ but you don't immediately know them or find what they are sharing compelling. This is very similiar to the way people use Twitter lists (and it makes sense, doesn't it?).
    • Why this is important: If you don't add them to your circles, they will not be able to see what you post! Add them to your Following Circle so they can see what you are sharing (and share your post with their circles). Isn't that the reason they added you in the first place?
  2. Add an Industry Circle. Create one circle encompassing your main area of focus. For me, that’s all things internet. I add people and brands that love to blog, podcasters, social media nerds and enthusiasts, marketing and branding professionals, and SEO aficionados.
    • Why this is important: These are people you would follow professionally. You are interested in what they have to say, whether they engage with you or not. You want what they've got (and you are prepared to share and engage with it)!
  3. Add a Few Variety Circles. It's a good idea to have a few circles of people you've interacted with IRL (in real life, for those of you who don't speak acronym). Create a few circles for a variety of sharing purposes. I suggest a Family circle, a Friends circle (people that you hang out with), and an Acquaintances circle (people you've networked with, met a few times, etc). You can also add a Clients circle and Networking circle (both online and offline).
    • Why this is important: These are the circles to share posts with that aren't "public"; only they can see it. Keep these circles small so you see everything they share with you.
  4. Add Circles for Sharing. Create circles that narrow down (target) the niches from your Industry Circle. Use these circles to narrow down specific interests areas for sharing. The idea of Google+ is to share relevant posts with relevant circles. Keep in mind the cap for a sharing circle is 250 people -- get as targeted as you can!
    • Why this is important: You don't want to 'cross streams' when it comes to sharing relevant content! Constantly sharing internet memes with your branding buds is going to annoy them and could cause you to lose some hard-earned social respect. These circles will also help you target your engagement.
  5. Add a TBD Circle. This is the perfect circle for those you want to connect with but haven't had the opportunity to yet. They may fall outside of your normal realm of interest (for me, this would be stuff I love that isn't industry related: celebrity gossip, String Theory enthusiasts, and dogmoms). They could become a great connection!
    • Why this is important: You are listening to what they have to say and you have to add them somewhere in order for them to receive your content. Use this circle to hone your networking skills -- find out what you have in common.
I will be spending the next few weeks creating my new Google+ circles. Feel free to add me to one of yours!

Please share any Google+ Circle tips in the comments below.

Follow Friday

Five rad people to follow and why you should follow them (in 140 characters or less).

@kimberelyanne



is an SEO wizard, dog mom, and uber creative. She can craft like you wouldn't believe!  She also inspires me to be my best.






@crsofr



is an Indy (somewhat) tech nerd. Kind, approachable, and engaging. He's funny, too. He's been in the health insurance biz a long time.






@Tini_Bop



is one of my Twitter faves! Funny, smart, and shares interesting things. She's into marketing, communications, and keeping it fresh.






@seotweets



is a news feed dedicated to sharing SEO information. The feed also shares hourly 'SEO leaders' and it is a great way to find new people in the industry.






@stevegarretson



is a fun-loving Indy guy. Cool, friendly, and funny. He's resourceful and enjoys helping others.  Likes bike riding and social media, too.

Be Proactive About Intellectual Property Protection

The wake of SOPA debates (and protest) has reignited interest in intellectual property. Do you know how to protect yours?

As technology continues to improve, thieves are finding new and more creative ways to steal data and digital property from others.

Instead of waiting around for the next SOPA to be debated (and potentially passed), I choose to be proactive and learn how to protect myself. I've done some research and unearth five useful tips to help all of us protect our intellectual property.

First things first. 

What is Intellectual Property?

According to Stopfakes.gov, intellectual property is any innovation, commercial or artistic, or any unique name, symbol, logo or design used commercially. Intellectual property is protected by:
  • patents on inventions;
  • trademarks on branding devices;
  • copyrights on music, videos, patterns and other forms of expression;
  • trade secrets for methods or formulas having economic value and used commercially
Below are four ways to protect your intellectual property. 

Be Smart about Publication
Do not publish sensitive or secret materials online where search engines and the entire world can easily find and copy it. Digital materials that are published online should, at a minimum, contain your unique watermark or other identifying markings. A watermark can be extremely useful if ownership of an item is later disputed.
  • Watermarks should be placed on anything you don't want being used without credit. That includes samples, photos, etc.
  • Watermark software (many are free and can be accessed with a Google search) easily creates watermarks that are nearly invisible to the user and are critical for resolving any infringement disputes.
  • I suggest establishing company policies and requiring all employees to sign confidentiality agreements to prohibit them from disclosing or publishing your intellectual property without permission (or watermark).

Computer and Network Security
Not publishing sensitive documents online doesn't necessarily mean you're out of the woods. Security holes in any network (hard wired or wireless) can be a hacker's dream -- and Anonymous has been on a roll lately.  Secure your wireless network, password protect your computer(s) and sensitive documents, and install anti-virus software and firewalls.
  • It's always a good idea to password protect any documents that contain sensitive material.   
  • Do not allow unknown users to connect to your network. 
  • Keep your anti-virus software updated and run checks regularly. (Or you could buy a Mac, which doesn't seem to have that pesky virus problem.)

Apply for Protection
Make the first move to protect your intellectual property by applying for protection. First and foremost, research the difference between trademarks, patents, and copyrights. Each will have different requirements and require specific documentation.
  • Clearly display any patent, copyright, or trademark notices on your website and any other legally protected documents. Make it clear that your material is not free for use, duplication, or redistribution without permission.
  • Be sure to enforce any violations. There is no point in buying a copyright if you aren't going to enforce it!
  • Copyscape is a great free tool that searches the web for duplicate content. Use it!

Be Clear about Licensing Permissions
Clearly state any licensing rights, terms, and conditions of use for your intellectual property on your website. If you choose to "lease" your intellectual property (with permission of course), state your licensing policies in your Terms of Use and get licensing agreements in writing.

How to Boost Rankings with StumbleUpon Traffic

If you are one of the millions of StumbleUpon users, you've more than likely realized two truths; the internet is comprised (almost) entirely of funny animal videos and being an active member of the StumbleUpon community is a powerful and organic way to move your site up the rankings ladder.

StumbleUpon was one of the first internet add-ons to use a "like" and "dislike" option that allows the user to create their ideal browsing experience. Stumblers can browse the internet based on preferences and categories; the more you like or dislike, the better recommendation SU will make for you.

Growing Your Circle of Influence 

A key feature of SU is the community associated with it; you can connect with thousands, okay millions, of people who are interested in similar things. That is a powerful resource for anyone looking to forge social connections with new influencers. 

Subscribe to targeted SU user feeds to view their recent stumbles. Use this resource to find new people to connect with and see what those with similar interests are actually spending time online. You can sort feeds by most recent views, top rated, most shares, and categorized tags. Hello new and relevant content that your circle of influence wants! 

Once you stumble ("like" or "dislike") a webpage you can do two things: view who else liked the page and find out who was the first to "discover" (fancy word for adding a webpage to the StumbleUpon directory) the page. As you stumble and discover relevant webpages you will organically gain subscribers interested in your SU finds and recommendations. 

StumbleUpon does not automate following and unfollowing of users; this gives you the opportunity to forge actual relationships with other users. Isn't that what social networking is supposed to be about in the first place?

          So, what now? 

          StumbleUpon (if used correctly) can offer you targeted traffic that will grow gradually over time. Now that you've decided to start stumbling, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of it. 
          1. Personalize your page. When users are browsing the StumbleUpon community, it is imperative that they get a true sense of who you are. SU users do not like spammers and dishonesty. Upload an avatar (a REAL photo, not a graphic or logo). Tell people who you are by filling out the "General" section. (This is a great place for a link to your website or blog, too.)  Share with the community what you like in the “Interests” section.

          2. Join the communities relating to your interests (both personally and professionally). Targeted communities' equals targeted traffic. And don't just join them to be one of the cool kids -- actually contribute!

          3. Befriend people with similar interests. Adding friends whose pages interest you can be the start of a beautiful relationship: they will likely appreciate the pages that you’re submitting. As you continue to submit great content, users will befriend you and regularly view your stumbled content.

          4. Stumble often. Just submitting and stumbling upon a single page doesn’t bode well for your reputation, and keen users will take notice. Stumble frequently. If people like the pages you’ve stumbled upon or submitted, you’ll likely also be rated highly in the community.

          5. Label and tag your submitted pages appropriately. When you tag your new submissions, be relevant. Pertinent tags will bring you the most targeted traffic from the users who specifically have expressed an interest in the topic you are serving content for.

          6. Do not keyword spam. If your keywords and tags are not relevant to your site your popularity (if any) will be short lived. Tags can be added and removed by community members and spammy keywords do not last long.

          Follow Friday

          Five rad people to follow and why you should follow them (in 140 characters or less).

          @IndianapolisVet




          is more than the owner of Leo's Pet Care, he's an animal advocate.





          @jcabiness



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          @calebdann



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          @TheRobbie22




          is one (of many) Slingshot SEO superstars and one of my favorite people.






          @sarahstrange23


          is opinionated (in a good way) and loves to join the conversation.

          Follow Friday

          Ten rad tweeps to add some sugar and spice to your time line and why you should follow them (in 140 characters or less).

          @Ms_C_McGee




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          @theAmazingBen




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          @RisingSpivey




          is a savvy business owner, loving mom, and inspiration leader.






          @randyclarktko




          is a marketing master, leadership expert, and excellent conversationalist.






          @kendra90704




          is fabulous, funny, and always up to something awesome.






          @mattdantodd




          is a rad dad, intelligent, and a Star Wars geek.






          @carlajo




          is an avid reader, my Public Relations idol, and into craft beer.






          @whitekidwasted




          is uncensored, uninhibited, and absolutely hilarious.






          @thedailyclaire




          is into awesome TV shows/movies, blogging, and shopping.






          @mariiieclaiiire




          is sweet, loves Frenglish, and a pop culture diva.







          Previous Follow Friday posts are located in the sidebar. Please follow me on Twitter! I love meeting new (rad) people!