Facebook for Beginners: How to Use Pic Monkey & Create a Highlighted Update on Facebook
Many thanks to Sue of Quirki Stuff who asked us how she could display a ‘Before and After’ photograph of one of their painted items of furniture on facebook.
First of all, if you wish to incorporate 2 or 3 before and after photographs into a collage or display a wide photograph in order to give it more presence on Facebook, you need to be aware of the dimensions that Facebook allows for these photos. Highlighted and ‘Milestone’ photographs have dimensions of 843 x 403. If the photo is not this size, it will be ‘stretched’ to fit so may not appear as you had hoped.
To create a collage, a handy free tool is Pic Monkey. Simply opt for the ‘create a collage’ option and decide which layout you would like.
You can choose to upload photos from your computer and all the photos you wish to use will stack in the box on the left side. You can then move them to the collage one at a time or all at once. It is easy to change them from one box to another too. You will notice in the photographs below that the cabinet cannot be seen in its entirety, hence the boxes need to be enlarged.
Place the cursor on the outer edges of the collage and pull them outwards to enlarge the photograph. You can see the total size of the photograph at the bottom and as you can see, it is larger than the required 843 x 403 for Facebook requirements.
By manipulating the outer edges of the collage again, it is possible to reduce the total size of the image to 843 x 403, the desired dimensions. This can be a bit finicky so don’t worry if it isn’t exact, it just means that Facebook will either stretch or hide a tiny bit of the photo.
Then, simply name the photograph and save it to the desired location on your computer.
Next, you need to upload the photograph to facebook. Do check out our previous post on how to upload a photograph to facebook if you don’t know how to do this.
As you can see in the screenshot above, the collage had been cut to 403 x 403 so part of it is obscured. By clicking on the little star (highlight button) on the top right to the photograph, this changes it to 843 x 403 and gives it more prominence across the page – perfect for showing off a ‘before/after’ transformation.
Marie and I offer training session in groups and as one to ones so if you feel that you really need to get to grips with facebook or any of the other social meda and would like some help, do get in touch.
Next up – how to create a long, tall, skinny photograph for Pinterest.
Facebook for Beginners: How To Upload A Photo and What Size?
In our second ‘Facebook for Beginners’ series of posts, we are going to look at how to upload a photograph onto your facebook business page.
Instead of writing a status update, click on ‘Photo/Video’ and a drop box will open up. For now, in order to upload a photo from your computer, click the ‘upload photo/video’ button. (We’ll cover the photo album in another post).
Write in the text that you would like to put with the photograph, click ‘choose file’ and choose a photograph from your computer.
Once you see the name of the photograph, you can click ‘post’ and the photo will be published.
The measurements for ‘ordinary photos’ in terms of the space that Facebook allows is 403 x 403. If your photos are larger than this, they may not be positioned as you would like. If you wish to reposition the photograph so that a particular product or person is visible and central in the photograph, simply click the ‘pencil’ button on the top right (it will show when you hover the cursor over it), click on ‘reposition photo’ and move the photo around until you are happy with its position and then click ‘save’.
More tips on facebook photos coming up in the next blog post. If you have any questions, do leave them in the comment box.
Facebook for Beginners: How To Write An Update on Facebook
Teaching facebook, twitter and pinterest to some new clients recently, I’ve decided to create some ‘beginner’ blog posts which they can refer to for a reminder. I’d love to know if you find these useful too.
This one will cover the basics in how to write a facebook update and how to encourage comments, likes and shares.
Simply type in the text into the status box and then paste (Ctrl and V) in the url that you copied from the address bar. As you can see below, the linked page will come up underneath.
Once the link page is visible, you can delete the url from the descriptor (as it can look a bit messy and untidy). You can also choose which image you would like displayed with the text by scrolling through the thumbnail choices.
We recommend posting to Facebook once or twice a day. You can schedule your updates if you know you are going to be away by clicking on the clock icon in the bottom left and then choosing the date and time. Then click ‘schedule’.
To encourage likes, do choose a nice photograph from the thumbnails on offer in the link. As you can see above, I could have picked from one of 17 photographs and chose to use the dominant photograph in the blog post.
To encourage comments, do ask a question such as ‘Looking for ideas for decorating girls’ bedrooms?’ or ‘Do you like our attempt at creating a moodboard?’
To encourage others to share your post, you could ask others to ‘share if they like it’ and you may see other pages doing this. However, I would recommend that you use this very sparingly. If people really like it, they will share it and while asking them occasionally will product results, I think I would become annoyed by a page administrator who overdid the requests. (More on sharing in an upcoming post)
Next up will be a post showing you how to upload a photograph to your facebook page including editing it using free tools. Have you any questions regarding your own facebook page that you would like us to answer? Do ask in the comments below.
8 Google Tools To Rock Your Business Blog
A blog is a powerful way to grow your business online. A study by HubSpot showed that businesses that blog get 55% more website visitors than those that do not have a blog. Blogging will help you build your brand online, enhance your trust and authority, showcase your expertise, project your personality and attract more loyal customers. There are many online tools to help make your blogging more effective, and because Google dominates the Internet, what better place to start than by checking out this list of our favorite free Google tools to really rock your business blog.
(1) Google Alerts
Google Alerts is an indispensable tool for the business blogger. Automated messages are sent to your email account whenever Google indexes web content with your selected keywords or keyword phrases. You can control how often you receive these alerts (daily or weekly), whether you wish to receive all mentions, or limit it to the most relevant, and you can add new alerts, or delete old ones at any point.
How to use Google Alerts to rock your blog
- Keep updated on emerging trends in your industry to provide the latest information for your readers.
- Find new ideas for blog content.
- Provide backlinks to your site by adding (relevant) comments to other blogs in your niche.
- Track if your original content has been used on another website or blog without due attribution to you.
- Discover new bloggers in your field and build your network of contacts.
Top Tip: Use Google Alerts to monitor who’s talking about you or your blog. This is important so you can respond to any criticism, customer complaints or thank someone for writing something positive about you.
(2) Google Reader
The idea of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is to consolidate content from across the internet in one place, making it easy for you to stay up to date with all the latest news relevant to you. It means you don’t have to trawl the internet to find relevant content, or clog up your inbox with email alerts. There are several options when it comes to choosing an effective RSS (Feed) Reader. We’ve opted for the Google Reader since Google effectively own the online search market. It is simple to get started – you don’t need to download anything – simply sign in using your Google account and you are ready to start adding subscriptions to your favorite sites.
How to use Google Reader to rock your blog
- You’ve heard that content is king when it comes to blogging, so use your Google Reader to find new content and related ideas and industry news of interest to your readers.
- Using Google Reader allows you to scroll through a number of posts a lot quicker than clicking individual links from a ‘favourites’ folder or search engine results, thus saving you time. Articles can be starred within Google Reader to read later.
- Use the keyboard shortcuts to save more time. Here is a full list for Google Reader
- Finally, don’t forget to activate your own RSS feed on your blog and display it prominently so that others can subscribe to it (note: RSS feed is already incorporated into the WordPress platform, so there is no need for an additional feed).
Top Tip: You can access Google Reader on the go – a great way to catch up on your daily commute.
(3) Google Adwords
Driving targeted traffic to your blog is a key factor to its success. The best way to do this is to get your blog pages ranking highly on search engine results pages, by including targeted keywords (the words people use to search online) in your blog posts. Keywords are important because by including relevant keywords, it will be easier for people to find your blog when searching online. The Google Adwords tool is designed to gauge the effectiveness of keywords for using the google adwords service, but it works equally well for determining keywords for your blog post.
How to use Google Adwords to rock your blog
- Type in your keywords into the Google Adwords search tool.
- Google will search to find the information related to these keywords.
- You will be taken to a list showing the levels of estimated search traffic and competitiveness for your key words.
- The higher the rating, the more pages there are online that use that keyword, so try to use keywords/phrases that have LOW ‘Competition’, and HIGH Monthly Searches.
Top Tip: Each time you write a blog post, use the Google Adwords tool to ensure your post is SEO optimized.
(4) Google Analytics
Tracking the number of visitors to your blog, where they came from, how they got there, and what they read on your blog can provide you with important insight to help you grow your blog. While there are many tools available to monitor and track your incoming traffic, the most comprehensive and free tool is Google Analytics.
How to use Google Analytics to rock your blog
- Measure blog traffic, bounce rate and page views with this tool.
- Determine the average time spent on your blog by visitors.
- Establish at which point visitors enter and exit your website.
- Use it to gather information about your customers (geographical location, time on site, search engine trends, etc).
- Monitor frequency of traffic from social networking sites and other websites.
- Use it to discover which keywords from search engines are driving traffic to your blog – you can then make more strategic use of these keywords throughout your posts.
- Find out which blog posts are most popular and choose to write more on these themes.
Top Tip: While it is easy to set up and start using this tool, be mindful that there is an art to correctly interpreting the data to suit your specific needs. Check out online articles on the topic for more information.
Google Blog Search allows you to easily find what people are saying on any subject of your choice in the blogosphere. Because it is continually updated, you can be sure of the most accurate and up-to-date results from a variety of sources by subscribing either via email alert or by RSS.
How to use Google Blog Search to rock your blog
- Type in what you’re looking for in the search box and you’ll see a list of related blogs.
- You can filter these results for more relevance to your specific needs.
- Use it to find more blogs in your niche to build your bloggers network.
- Collect ideas for future blog posts.
Top Tip: Discover which topics are generating most interest in the blogosphere and comment on them or write about them on your own blog.
(6) Google Trends
Google Trends analyzes a portion of Google web searches to compute how many searches have been done for the terms you enter relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time.
How to use Google Trends to rock your blog
- Determine how frequently your topics have appeared in Google News.
- Gather insights into the traffic and geographic visitation patterns of websites or keywords.
- Use the Hot Searches functionality to discover what people are searching for on Google most recently.
- With this insight you can write great content on your blog.
Top Tip: Hot Searches highlights searches that experience sudden surges in popularity, and updates that information hourly, so you can be right up to date with this information on your blog.
(7) Google Insights for Search
Google Insights for Search shows you what people are searching for, where they are searching and when, allowing you to spot global trends in your industry and capitalize on new business opportunities as they present themselves.
How to use Google Insights to rock your blog
- Anticipate demand for your business so you can write posts based on the seasonal trends you can track with Google Insights.
- Use it to create subtle advertising messages for your product or service on your blog by capitalizing on search tends geographically.
- Identify which brands are doing best with the “Top Searches” and “Rising Searches” functionality. You might discover some rising stars. Can you leverage this interest by stocking these products if you are a retailer and writing about them on your blog?
Top Tip: Google has some useful videos in YouTube that go into great detail about this tool.
We’ve included the Google owned YouTube in our list because it carries a lot of weight in Google’s search rankings (often appearing on the front page of Google). This being so, you really shouldn’t miss out on using YouTube to increase your audience, drive traffic to your site, stand out in your niche, add personality to your blog and build your authority online.
How to use YouTube to rock your blog
- Optimize your videos to be easily found by viewers by choosing good keywords using Google’s Adword Tool (see (3) above).
- Place your keywords in the title, description, and tags of your video.
- Check out the competition and see which keywords they have used.
- Make your video short – viewers won’t stick around for long intros.
- However, do brand your video by flashing your logo at the start and end of your video.
- Add some music from a royalty free source like AudioJungle.
- Customize your YouTube profile (channel) by including your logo, brief info on your company and the url to your blog.
- Create Playlists to get more views on your channel.
- Encourage viewers to embed your video on their site, share on social networking sites and subscribe to your YouTube channel.
- Invite viewers to check out your blog for more detailed information
- Don’t do a hard sell by asking people to buy your products.
- Plan your marketing funnel creatively for a better response.
- Promote your videos by embedding them on your blog and sharing them on popular social networking sites.
Top Tip: If the thought of appearing on a video is too intimidating for you, consider the option of uploading a slideshow or screen capture video.
So there you have it – our favorite free Google tools to enhance your blogging effectiveness. It is by no means the complete list of Google’s handy tools, and some of them may seem to overlap in functionality, but by playing around with them you will discover which ones best suit your business blogging needs.
Have you tried any of these Google tools in your business blogging? Can you add to this list?
Find It Friday: How the wrong plugin can slow down your blog and how to fix it
Lorna wrote a post back in March outlining the benefits of installing the all in one seo plugin for WordPress (note: it isn’t available on wordpress.com). If you have chosen to go down the route of self hosting your blog, you will want to install some shiny new plugins. Now, while there are many great ones out there, there are also some not so great plugins, and be aware that by installing the wrong plugin, you can compromise the speed at which your site loads.
Our advice is to choose quality over quantity. Start with the all in one as recommended by Lorna, then test new ones until you find the best for your site that doesn’t compromise your speed.
To help you determine which plugins are slowing down you site, check out the P3 plugin on WordPress.org. Often times, WordPress sites load slowly because of poorly configured plugins or because there are so many of them. By using the P3, you can narrow down anything causing slowness on your site.
How to get your Blog & Website on the First Page of Google
Do you want your website to be referenced on the first page of google? Do you want people to be able to find your online presence easily and quickly?
Why blog? Why spend time writing blog posts? How will a blog benefit my business? To what extent will a blog help my business?
If you have a website, you want people to be able to find it easily and ideally, you’d like it to be on the first page of google. However, unless you are prepared to pay for google advertisements, your website will not necessarily feature on the first page throughout good website optimisation alone. An effective blog is invaluable in improving your SEO to the extent of achieving the top of page one.
When I started blogging in early 2008, there were two blogs that I became aware of very quickly. Why? Because everyone (in related fields) was talking about their success, they were Irish success stories in blogging, they were featured in the traditional media of magazines and newspapers and because they were written by people with lovely personalities that shone through their blogs. They were also on the first page of google for related searches. One was Homebug, an interior design based blog who listed my blog in her ‘favourite blog’ section, sending me traffic (usually about 10-20 visits per day and valuable SEO juice. (Homebug ended about two years ago hence I can’t link to it).
The other is Murphy’s Icecream, the blog was started in 2006 and blog posts include their pride in Kerry, what’s going on in their shops in Kerry and Dublin, icecream recipes, videos and all things Irish-related. Apart from strengthening their brand and reinforcing their quality product, their blog means that when I think of Dingle, I think of Murphy’s icecream and I know I’m not the only person who wants to taste their icecream because of their blog.
If you search for ‘icecream’ in google.ie, their blog at Icecream Ireland is at the top of the page and their website at Murphy’s Icecream is number 4. Kieran Murphy is an enthusiastic blogger with a passion for his product and it shows. As a result, his business ranks extremely highly for a popular keyword.
If your business focuses on different varieties of a single product, e.g. T-shirts, wallpaper, vacuum cleaners, mortgage advice – whatever it may be, the challenge is there to try to get to the first page of google but it is a challenge that can be achieved.
How will your blog achieve a position on the first page of google?
Google likes regularly updated content and it likes seeing 2 or 3 main keywords being used throughout a blog post, especially in the first and last paragraphs, in the tags and in the category headings. (Yes, Google has become personified!)
Read our post on how to use the google keyword research tool to ensure you know you are using the right keywords and how to use them appropriately.
Getting to the first page of google will, of course, depend on the competition for the keywords you want to use. You can find out what the competition is by going to google search and typing in the keyword you want to use in quotation marks and then you will see how many other posts or websites are using that keyword.
As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, “buy wallpaper online” is a keyphrase that I have used to optimise my Garrendenny Lane blog and website and as you can see above, it appears in 511,000 searches. Hence, I’m pleased that it usually turns up around the middle of the first page for that search term. Your success will depend on the competition but it is still possible to reach that top spot on google organically (through search rather than having to pay for it) via your blog.
Hence, you really need to establish your main keywords, ensure your website is optimised for those keywords and use them properly in your blog posts.
The Value of Backlinks
Another advantage of blogging is that people will link to good blog posts from their website or blog and if they do so using the keyword within the backlink / hyperlink, all the better.
Coincidentally, that happened to this blog yesterday. I am an advocate of using twitter at conferences for a number of reasons and have devoted some posts to the subject. I wrote another post on the topic the other day and referenced my inspiration as @TeecycleTim , author of an article in a Toastmasters magazine that came through my door a few days ago. Having tweeted him to acknowledge my source (and including it in the blog post), he retweeted it, and one of his followers, Herbert Lowe, saw it and devoted a whole post to my various blog posts on tweeting at conferences, using valuable keywords in each backlink. What the results will be remains to be seen but it all adds to valuable SEO juice.
Having a website that is not updated frequently is almost like a rowing boat without oars, it will float around without reaching any destination and may not be found by its target audience. Having an effective blog will pay dividends and remember, you can monitor the results too (more on monitoring your social media usage coming up soon).
If you would like help to create and maintain an effective blog for your website, do get in touch with Marie or I.
Image: Free Digital Photos
Enter Your Business Blog in the Blog Awards
Is your business an SME or a corporate business? Do you blog for your business? Are you aware of the Grafton Media Blog Awards Ireland event that is coming up soon?
There are two Best Business blog categories – one is Best Blog of an SME and is sponsored by Sage and the other is Best Corporate blog which is sponsored by Media Box.
Why should you nominate your blog for these awards?
- It’s one way for people to find your blog and your business
- Reaching the shortlist, longlist and/or the finals will certainly help with brand awareness and result in free publicity but so will having your blog published on the nominations list at the end of July.
- Free publicity can include local and national mentions in the press and radio.
- Having your work recognised and rewarded will give you such a buzz.
- It will help you connect with other bloggers and businesses.
- It helps you to assess your own blog and become focused on results and improvements.
- Learn from other bloggers too.
- There will be a great night out on 13th October!
So, don’t delay. It doesn’t matter whether you nominate your own blog or someone else does it for you but nominations close on 16th July so get to it – right here!
As with all social media tools, there are written and unwritten rules as to how you use them. Pinterest isn’t any different and we’ve come up with our suggestions to ensure you know what you’re doing when you go to use it and you don’t break any pinetiquette rules.
- Pin Little & Often – Don’t spend an hour pinning and auto-tweeting as it will annoy your followers on twitter for a start. If I go to my pinterest page and see that one person I follow has pinned so many similar pins that it almost fills the page, I am likely to unfollow them so it is best to pin 2 or 3 of your own images, repin a few and leave it at that and then come back to it two or three times a day.
- Don’t Self-Promote – Don’t fill your boards with your own products. True pinners love visuals so they fill their boards with pictures they enjoy and love and this shows their personality and that of their brand. Follow the 80/20 rule – 80% other people’s products, 20% your products.
- Credit the Source – If using a pin on your facebook page or within a blog post, always always always credit the source. You can use the embed button on pinterest to insert the pin in your blog post.
- Personality – Show the personality of your brand by creating boards that enhance or complement your services or your products e.g. a photographer could have a boards on wedding dresses, exotic locations, kids and gardens – to bring his/her business to the attention of engaged couples but also to show their personality and passions.
- Your Reputation – If you are a business pinner then bear in mind the reputation of your brand when repinning or pinning images, for example, while many fashion pins may include women or men in scanty lingerie or underwear, a board containing such pins may not be expected by your audience and may damage your online reputation particularly if you are selling homewares or children’s furniture.
- Reciprocate– Follow back those who follow you.
- Twitter – if you are auto-tweeting from your pins, remember to check into twitter too to see if you’ve received any responses on your pinning.
- Interaction – According to Repinly, we spend 0.5% of our time on pinterest commenting so it seems that we’re mostly interacting there by repinning rather than having conversations. Leave a comment on the occasional pin and if someone comments on one of your pins, do respond – it could be the start of a beautiful friendship 🙂
Image: Quick Meme
The 7 Hidden Benefits Of Blogging
We write a lot here on Write On Track about the business benefits of having your own blog. We firmly believe that blogging is a fantastic way to profile your expertise, increase traffic to your website, humanize your brand, and sell your products or service. It’s worked for us and it can work for you too.
But today, we want to take you on a little side track from our main business blogging route. We want to share some of what we have learned about the hidden benefits of blogging – the side benefits that we may not write about often, but which nevertheless have given our business an added boost. We hope that by sharing these with you, it will encourage you to see even more benefits in starting your own business blog.
1. Blogging has made us more disciplined and organized
In the words of writer PD James “Don’t just plan to write—write.” Sitting at our computers and writing blog posts every day has given us a disciplined approach to writing and helped us to become more organized in our thoughts. It is true that you learn best by doing. Trust us! The more you write, the easier it becomes!
2. Blogging has helped us develop our own unique writing style
Our writing styles have evolved over the years and blogging has helped us find our own unique voice. Your writing voice is not something you create; it is something you find, and it can take time. We now know what works for us and how best to connect with our readers. We write about the topics we are most passionate about and leave others to cover those we aren’t quite so attuned to. Here’s what writer Jeff Goins has to say about finding your voice:
The bottom line is that finding your voice is the key to getting dedicated followers and fans and that it’s the only sustainable way to write. If you’re not being yourself, you’ll eventually burn out. A writing voice on your blog will strengthen your brand and give you focus. Furthermore, it will create a lasting impression with your readers, allowing you to better fulfill the long-term goals of your website in a more sustainable way.
3. Blogging has taught us how to research and evaluate information
We all think we know how to search online, but when you blog, you really learn how to hone your research skills. We want to provide you with the most up do date accurate information and the latest relevant findings, and in order to do that, we need to know how to gather the information, evaluate our online sources, synthesize the information and bring that information to you in an easy to digest and usable format.
4. Blogging has made us more creative thinkers
Blogging makes us think – a lot! It has made our minds sharper and our thinking more lateral and creative. As an added benefit, blogging has been shown to increase memory function. We are able to juggle many different things at once and have become expert multitaskers. We are always alert to new ideas and solutions to our business challenges. We definitely think more outside the box these days.
5. Blogging has brought us great networking opportunities
Through blogging we have become networked to a supportive community of like-minded people. This network has given us great tips and advice, valuable feedback and even provided us with new business contacts and work.
6. Blogging has brought us personal fulfillment
We continue to blog because we love it. We wouldn’t keep doing it if we weren’t passionate bloggers. It has brought us both great personal fulfillment as a means of self-expression and given us a sense of accomplishment and purpose in our lives.
7. Blogging has led us to unexpected places
You never know where blogging will lead you. When we both started out on our respective blogging journeys, we never imagined that our paths would cross in the blogosphere and bring us together to form a successful business partnership. Consider what Chris Brogan has to say on the opportunities blogging can bring to you:
Every time you post, you build an opportunity. It might be for making business. It might be for sharing thought leadership. It might be the chance to build some new relationships. Mechanically, it might just be another attempt to gain better organic ranking from Google. But each post is an opportunity.
So, there you have our 7 hidden benefits of blogging. We are, as you can tell, passionate about the benefits of blogging – not just for business, but for life. Give it a try and you too may be amazed at where the blogging journey may take you.