LediaMedia's Fave Albums of 2012

There is no official criteria used to judge these albums. For one reason or another, they've had my toe tapping since I first gave them a spin. 

My musical taste is pure glitter so prepare to be honey dipped.

LediaMedia's Fave Albums of 2012

This is B.o.B.'s second studio album.
Strange Clouds, B.o.B.

Three words to describe this album:
Unexpected, fresh, beats

Fave Tracks:
Ray Bands [STREAM]
So Good [STREAM]
Play For Keeps [VIDEO]

Stream Strang Clouds for free here.




'King Con' is full of indie-pop gems.
King Con, Alex Winston

Three words to describe this album:
cheeky, sugar, foot-stomping

Fave Tracks:
Velvet Elvis [VIDEO]
Host
Sister Wife [VIDEO]

Learn more about Alex Winston here.
Stream 'King Con' for free here.




Swedish folk duo (and sisters, too!)
The Lion's Roar, First Aid Kit

Three words to describe this album:
raw, harmony, flowing

Fave Tracks:
King of the World
Emmylou [VIDEO]
Blue [VIDEO]

Stream 'The Lion's Roar' free here. 
 




Pink's real name is Alecia Beth Moore.
The Truth About Love, Pink

Three words to describe this album:
infectious, raunchy, fun

Fave Tracks:
Truelove [LYRIC VIDEO]
Slut Like You
Beam Me Up [STREAM]

Stream Pink's latest album for free here.




 
Is Carly Rae Robin Sparkles IRL?
Kiss, Carly Rae Jespen 
Three words to describe this album:
synth, mass appeal

Fave Tracks:
Drive
Guitar String/ Wedding Ring
I Know You Have A Girlfriend

Stream Kiss for free here.




What are your favorite albums from 2012? Please share in the comments. I love sharing and trading new tunes! You can tweet me your favorite albums and hot tracks, to

Groove on.

Natural Daily Facial Scrub for All Skin Types

Almonds + oats + liquid= perfect soap alternative.
SOAP IS BAD FOR YOUR FACE.

I REPEAT, USING SOAP ON YOUR FACE IS REALLY BAD, MMM'KAY?

Why? It completely wipes out your pores (dirt and oil) which causes your face to work double time to replace the oils it actually needs. This causes breakouts, blotches, blemishes, and ultimately dry skin. It also turns your face into a potential bacteria breeding ground. GROSS.

I'm not the kind of girl who delivers bad news without a silver lining. I'm happy to announce that I have found a daily facial scrub to replace soap! Bonus: it's totally natural! The recipe is below. One batch will last you eight days.

What You Will Need
  • 1/2 cup of oats, finely ground
  • 1/2 cup of almonds, finely ground
  • Small dish or bowl
  • Coffee grinder or food processor
  • Liquid: water, witch hazel (for oily skin), or milk (for dry skin)
If you don't want to grind almonds or don't have a food processor or coffee grinder, almond meal flour can be purchased where gluten-free products are sold. An 8oz. package will cost around $8. I highly recommending investing in a coffee grinder if you plan on making this recipe or any homemade facial masks. It will cost you around $16 but is priceless in the headaches it will save you from when trying to turn oats to a fine powder using a blender or food processor. Plus grinding stuff is so fun!

Use a coffee grinder to turn oats to powder.
Creating Your Facial Scrub
  1. Blend1/2 cup of oats in your coffee grinder until powder.
  2. Pour oats into a resealable container.
  3. Blend 1/2 cup of almonds in your coffee grinder until powder.
  4. Pour almonds on top of oats in resealable container. Stir until well blended.

Using Your Facial Scrub
  1. Take 2 tablespoons of powder blend from the resealable container and put in a small bowl or palm of your hand.
  2. Add your choice of liquid to powder blend. Mix well.
    • The idea here is to lightly soak the oats. Your scrub should not be runny. 
    • Use water, Witch Hazel for oily skin, or milk for dry skin. I recommend using distilled water, not tap water.
  3. Using small, circular motions, massage the scrub gently from the bottom to the top. Start with your chin and end with your forehead. Avoid the eye area.
  4. Wash off after application with warm water. For a deeper cleanse, let the scrub dry for five minutes before washing off.
  5. Follow with a toner or moisturizer to restore your skin's balance quickly. I suggest this easy to make Thyme toner if you are acne-prone or using apple cider vinegar
    • To tone with apple cider vinegar: soak cotton round in water. Use an eyedropper to distribute no more than four (4) drops to the cotton round. Swipe entire face, avoiding eye area. 
Refreshed face all day, every day.
Use this scrub once a day, either in the morning or evening. Expect for your skin to feel clean and refreshed but not dried out. Using Witch Hazel will also have a cooling effect on the skin.

If you used almond meal flour (store bought), make sure to refrigerate the almond meal flour after opening. I'm keeping my scrub in the fridge, too, just to be safe.

That's it!

What do-it-yourself facial scrub or mask have you tried? How did it work? Let me know in the comments. Feel free to check out my recipe for a honey and oatmeal mask, too.

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.

Thyme Acne-Fighting Toner

thyme acne toner with witch hazelI've struggled with acne my entire life. I've tried it all: Proactive, SkinID, countless over-the-counter creams, cleansers, and toners. Nothing has worked! Instead of moping, I've decided to take my skin destiny in my own hands and use Mother Nature to get a shining, clear face.

Below is a simple recipe to create a skin toner with Thyme. Total initial cost may be around $10, depending on where you shop.

Why Thyme? A study from the Society for General Microbiology shows that Thyme is more effective than prescription creams to treat blemishes caused by bacteria. It's nature's benzoyl peroxide. (Benzoyl peroxide is a popular ingredient in acne-fighting creams that is designed to dry up blemishes quickly.) 

LediaMedia's Thyme Acne-Fighting Toner

What you will need:
  • Dried thyme
  • Witch Hazel
  • Glass bottle or jar for storage
  • Cotton rounds or reusable facial pad
  • Eyedropper that fits bottle you choose (optional)
  • Funnel (optional, makes pouring easier)
  • Strainer (optional)
  
Where to find these items:
  • Dried thyme can be found online or at health food stores. I bought mine in bulk off Amazon. You can also grow your own and dry it!
  • Witch Hazel is available at most drug and grocery stores. Be sure to buy Witch Hazel without alcohol so it doesn't over dry your skin.
  • Glass bottles and jars can be found in the cosmetic section at health food stores, online, or at The Container Store.

Creating Your Thyme Witch Hazel Toner
Thyme, Witch Hazel, bottle for toner
Thyme to fight acne with nature
  1. Sterilize a small jar or bottle by boiling it in water for 10 minutes. Be sure to dry it completely.
  2. Once your bottle is dry, pour 1 tablespoon of dried thyme using a funnel to ensure you don't spill.
  3. Pour 4 tablespoons of alcohol-free Witch Hazel over the top of the Thyme. Shake well.
  4. Let toner steep for 20 minutes before use. The Witch Hazel will start to look like brown tea.
  5. Store in a cool, dark place for up to a month.
I recommend letting the Thyme steep in the Witch Hazel for a few days before straining it out to make sure you get the most cleansing power. If you don't have a strainer -- no worries! This is not required. Leaving the Thyme inside the bottle will not have a negative effect. 

How To Use Thyme Toner
  1. Pour a small amount of toner onto a cotton round or reusable facial pad and swipe all over your cleaned face. Avoid the area around your eyes.
  2. Use toner once a day. You can use it once in the morning and evening depending on the severity of your blemishes.
  3. You can use an eyedropper instead of pouring if that's your forte. Either way, make sure the cotton round is sufficiently wet before application. Don't soak the cotton round but don't be stingy, either.

That's it! Pretty simple, right?

Please share any of your homemade toner recipes in the comments below. Special thanks to Crunchy Betty for this recipe! 

Halloween Playlist

Halloween Playlist
It's that time of year again! The nights (and days) are growing colder and scary movies are arriving from my Netflix queue. Who else loves spiced apple cider and pumpkin carving? Good, me too.

Halloween is my favorite holiday and in celebration I've compiled the perfect Halloween playlist. Ghouls, goblins, and Jack-o-Lanterns deserve a killer soundtrack. My Halloween playlist track list is below; it's got a little bit of something for everyone. Happy haunting!

Happy Halloween- A Mix by @lediamedia
1. Halloween Theme John Carpenter
2. Monster Mash Dr. Demento
3. Ghostbusters   
4. This Is Halloween Danny Elfman
5. Jump in The Line Harry Belafonte
6. Halloween Wade Denning & Kay Lande
7. I Put A Spell On You Bette Midler
8. Superstition Stevie Wonder
9. Thriller 2011 (DJ Flight & DJ Favorite Special Intro Mix) Michael Jackson
10. The Boogie Monster Gnarls Barkley
11. Don't Fear The Reaper Blue Oyster Cult
12. The Twilight Zone Theme
13. Time Warp Rocky Horror Picture Show
14. Evil Night Together Jill Tracy
15. Disturbia Rihanna
16. Zombie Natalia Kills
17. Monster Lady Gaga
18. Howlin' For You The Black Keys
19. Feed My Frankenstein Alice Cooper
20. Danse macabre, Op. 40 Camille Saint-Saƫns
21. Howl Florence + The Machine
22. Somebody's Watching Me Rockwell
23. Murder in the Red Barn Tom Waits
24. Werewolves Of London Warren Zevon
25. Spooky Jookie Man Man
26. Halloween Siouxsie & The Banshees
27. I Put A Spell On You The Screamin' Jay Hawks
28. Dracula's Wedding (Feat. Kelis) Andre 3000
29. Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor Johann Sebastian Bach
30. Vampire Smile Kyla La Grange
31. The Horror Of Our Love Ludo
32. The Allure Beats Antique
33. Step into My Coffin Zombie Ghost Train
34. Dead Man's Party Oingo Boingo
35. Blood Theme Daniel Licht
36. Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) David Bowie
37. Seven Devils Florence + The Machine
38. Dig Up Her Bones Misfits
39. Werewolf Cat Power
40. The Exorcist Theme

download (.zip) | (free) registration is required
download (.zip) | no registration required

What are your favorite Halloween tracks? Please share in the comments below.

IWL Women’s Leadership Conference 2012: Two Key Takeaways


I had the pleasure of attending the Indiana’s Women Leaders Conference on October 2, 2012. Traffic was an absolute nightmare because even the slightest sprinkle of rain sends Indiana drivers into a world of panic and I foolishly under dressed for this auspicious occasion. The normal attire for SEO conferences is a nice shirt and jeans – nerds don’t go all out.

Fashion issue aside, the conference was full of great information. Speaker presentations and breakout sessions related to the conference theme, “Present & Future: Choices, Chances, and Changes”.

Key Takeaways

Networking is super important, y’all. If you aren’t networking or are networking incorrectly, your chance for professional success diminishes.
  • Colleges, universities tell students that networking is important but they don’t take the time to teach them HOW to network. Isn’t that silly?
  • Hazel Walker shared a pretty cool statistic from her new book “Business Networking and Sex (it's not what you think)": 12K people were asked, “Has networking played a role in your success?”  91% responded “Yes”.
  • It’s better to build your network when you don’t need it than start one when you do need it and it’s too late.

Here are a few ideas on how to groom and grow you network:  
  1. Ask for what you want. What’s the point of having a network if you aren’t going to use it? Be clear and make sure to explain how you can help them in the future.
  2. Create a list of accomplishments and update this list frequently. Be ready and prepared to brag about recent accomplishments with your current and potential contacts, employers, etc.
  3. Perfect your handshake. The correct handshake has nothing to do with how hard you shake: it’s about wrapping your hand completely around the other person’s hand with purpose.
  4.  Follow up with everyone you meet. Don’t let any opportunities pass you by because you forgot to follow up!
Communicate your career needs, wants, and aspirations. Every panel member, and most of the speakers, stressed the importance of communicating your needs, wants, and aspirations to your employer and your mentor. It’s critical to take the time to figure out your career priorities (both short and long term) and then have a conversation to figure out how to take action on those priorities.
  • If you aren’t happy with your current situation, it’s on you to make a change. No one else is going to do it for you. Be the master of your career destiny!
  • Stretch yourself to take on intimidating challenges – you learn as much from failure as you do from success.


Suggestions for next year 

I have three suggestions for the event next year – mainly, embrace the world of social media.
  • Include social media handles and information for all presenters in both the packet and on presentation slides.
    • I like to credit quotes to the speakers but this information was not readily available. I had to search for their handles during the presentation and I’m sure I missed some awesome knowledge bombs!
    • I couldn’t find the conference hashtag! It didn’t appear anywhere on the presentation slides or inside the conference packet. It wasn’t on any of the signage, either.
  • Do not host a keynote speaker at lunch. I was interested in what she had to say but also wanted to network and socialize. Socializing won.
  • WIFI! Please for the love of GOD give me WIFI! The Indiana Conference Center wanted $99 for a single day’s use. Perhaps there is a way to incorporate this into registration fees? I’d pay more for internet.

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!

Autumn, a time of mellow fruitfulness


Fall is almost here.

Halloween costume stores are popping up all over the city and the nights are getting cooler.

Does anyone else feel like they missed summer? The poolside drink recipes I found on Pinterest never made it to fruition. I didn't make it to an amusement park to check in at every ride on FourSquare. Hell, I didn't even make it to the state fair this year; I will never know what deep fried Kool-Aid tastes like!

I'm okay with it, though. I've made peace with it (much like the summer loves of years past) and have decided rock the HELL out of Autumn.

autumn leaves
Fall: harvest, bounty, change, cycle, transition, preparation.

John Keats describes Autumn as a time of 'mellow fruitfulness'.

What do you think of when you hear 'Fall'?

I think of reaping the rewards of hard work, thankfulness, and rejoicing. I also think of animals preparing for winter as they enjoy the last warm, sunny days before the ground freezes and the world is still.

How will you be celebrating the season? Please share in the comments.

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.

"Dracula: The Panto" at Indy Fringe

This is a guest post by Robby Slaughter and a review from IndyFringe.

My first show at Indy Fringe this year was "Dracula: The Panto", a raucous retelling of Bram Stoker's classic. As the narrator explained in the opening, a "panto" (short for "pantomime" is a family-friendly version of a popular story, filled with songs, modern references and irreverent humor. The cast delivered handily on this promise.

"Dracula" is a can't miss mostly because of the side-splitting lyrics in the musical numbers. Watch for self-referential commentary in the love song and pop-culture asides from the henchmen. And like any good IndyFringe show, this production includes a few moments of clarity about their own budget, audience expectations, and especially a bit of local flare.

Performances were by and large earnest and enjoyable. A special mention goes to Kate Homan (whose dialogue admits the oddity of her playing the male role of Dr. Van Helsing), and whose skeptical looks and energetic singing voice are a major highlight. Jonah Winston, who plays the jive-talking American explorer, keeps audiences on their toes with his broad expressions and fourth-wall asides.

The star and the headliner, however, is Dracula himself. Masterfully played by Matthew Anderson, his hilariously exaggerated body language is enough to make the audience double over alone. Anderson excels at adhering to the form of the panto, with frequent conversations with the audiences. He demands us to boo his character more, "After all, I'm the villain of this piece!"

Although the performance brought laughs and engaged the crowd, the show was plagued by technical difficulties. These cannot be attributed to the Cook Theater at the recently-restored Indiana Landmarks Center. The Fringe's newest performance space is gorgeous and had incredible acoustics for later shows. But this reviewer missed quite a few lyrics and could not hear many of the singers due to problems with the audio balance. Hopefully, these can be address for later shows.

Despite these concerns, "Dracula: The Panto" is a hit. This is a great introduction to IndyFringe for first-timers and a perfect experience for long-time fans. Catch it yourself!

More at www.indyfringe.org. Enjoy other works by this company at http://www.eclecticpond.org/,

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.

Hair Fixes from the Medicine Cabinet

I always feel like MacGyver when I find a new use for a household item. The more common the item is, the more of a 'why didn't I think of this before' the moment becomes.

That being said... 

I'm back with more hair fixes using items you would find in your medicine cabinet. What's an added bonus of this list? You most likely have all of these items already! Let's get started, shall we? 

LediaMedia's Hair Fixes from the Medicine Cabinet

What You'll Need
  • Old sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Ibuprofen
  • Spray starch
  • Wine corks
  • Toothbrush 

How to Use These Medicine Cabinet Items 

Old sunscreen
Used as: a frizz fighter
How to use: Rub a pea-sized dab of old sunscreen between your fingers and smooth around the hairline to tame flyaways.

Lip balm
Used as: a hair wax to fight frizz along the hairline and add definition to your style
How to use: Rub a small amount of lip balm between your fingers and apply to the hairline.

Ibuprofen
Used to: soothe dry and itchy scalps
How to use: Crush a few ibuprofen pills into a powder and mix them into your shampoo.

Spray starch 
Used to: give your hair texture and major lift
How to use: Apply spray starch to dry roots and then blow-dry. 

Wine corks
Used as: mini hair rollers
How to use: Wash and towel dry your tresses, wind 1/2 inch sections of hair around the corks, and secure them to the scalp with bobby pins. Blast them with a hairdryer, then unravel and shake out for some serious summer waves.

Toothbrush 
Used for: hair style maintenance
How to use: Use it for back-combing of small, strategic areas of hair. Use it for root touch-ups. Spritz a little hairspray onto a toothbrush and glide it along your hairline for a clean, sleek pony-tail.  

What is one of your fave hair fixes? Please share in the comments below.

More Hair Fixes from the Kitchen

I had so much fun writing my post on homemade hair fixes that I decided to write another one! I've done some more research and reached out to my network for more ideas.

Thanks for the tweets in response to my post. My followers gave me some great new tricks to try. Below are four more hair fixes from the kitchen to try out.

Please continue to share your tricks with me on Twitter or in the comments below! Who knows, I might feature your tip in a future blog post.

LediaMedia's Hair Fixes from the Kitchen

What You'll Need
  • Sprite
  • Sweet 'N Low
  • Vegetable juice
  • Liquid dish soap

How to Use Your Kitchen Items

Sprite
Used as: hairspray and hair texturizer
How to use: Run a small amount of Sprite through damp hair, paying close attention to the hairs' roots.

Sweet 'N Low
Used for: taking the sting out of hair dye
How to use: Mix one packet of Sweet 'N Low into your hair coloring solution before applying to prevent skin irritation. Most hair dyes are alkaline and the acids in sugar substitutes help neutralize the pH level.

Vegetable juice
Used to: remove the greenish tint left behind from chlorine after a summer swim
How to use: In the shower, massage a can of V8 into your hair as if you are lathering shampoo. The red pigments in the tomato juice will warm up any ashy or green discoloring.

Liquid dish soap
Used to: get rid of product build up in your hair
How to use:
Rub a dime-sized amount of dish soap into your hair and rinse. Since it contains heavy-duty detergents, make sure to follow with a hydrating deep conditioner. How do you know if you have too much build up? You can't generate a lather with your regular shampoo. Liquid dish soap is super-clarifying and removes all traces of build up.

What trick is missing from this list? Please share in the comments below.