People are astounded and maybe appalled when I tell them the number of twitter accounts I have. And the fact that I tried to log on Facebook while already on Facebook is a bit embarrassing. However, the amount Social Media Certifiedof time I spent on and talking about social media is most likely why I have a career in social media today. I didn’t major in Facebook, and Twitter was not even a thought. In fact, the things closest to social networking while I was in college were chat room, AOL Instant Messenger, and Black Planet. But through a bit of personal obsession and a ton of learning, I’ve gotten pretty good at it.

Understand the foundation

Whether you love me or hate me, it looks like I’m here to stay. In case you don’t know who I am, let me introduce myself. I’m officially known as social media – and i have no idea how that happened, but when marketers, publicists, and business owners got ahold of me, I had an identity change. Frankly, the name change happened in the blink of an eye. One day I was known as social networking, and then I became social media. And while it may not seem essential to know my history, it’s imperative you know my true inner workings before believing you’ll become a social media pro.

People say “you never know where you’re going until you know from where you’ve come.” Since the foundation of social media is actually social networking, you’ll realize those who do it good have valuable interactions, good conversations, and “listen”. The basics of creating a maintaining real-life relationships offline are true to social media; just with a bigger audience.

So what makes you stand out from the crowd?

Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula. It can be different for each user. However, I do have a REAL LIFE advice that you can put into action today. It’ll take a bit of patience and trial and error, but I hope these tips put you on the road to doing social media marketing like a pro.

  1. Become obsessed with media. To become great at it, you have to immerse yourself in it. It’s like learning a second language. You can’t just read it or listen to it, you have to actually use it…and a lot. The same is true for social media. One or two times a month is not nearly enough. You have to REALLY use each site. By using the platforms, you’ll get to know what they have in common. You’ll also get a gist of what works. Start with personal accounts, operating as a person and not a business. Then once you have a better idea as to how each site works, try pages and accounts for your businesses.
  2. Read. There are a ton of articles, blog posts, and books on social media marketing. Since social media wasn’t yet a trend when I was majoring in marketing, I had to – and still – obtain knowledge the old school way; by doing and reading.
  3. Talk to people. People are the real users of social media, not businesses. Even when you’re selling to businesses, it’s a human that’s making a decision. Therefore, you want to know what makes them tick. Get to know why they use the sites, what they do when on the sites, who they follow, and why they choose to follow who they follow. Also, ask how often they’re on the sites and at what time of the day. Finally, ask why they don’t follow or stop following people or businesses. And while it’s best to talk to people within your target audience, if you’re just getting started, friends, family, and colleagues are a good starting point. (BTW…don’t forget to tap the brain of the marketing friend or other business owners who are willing to give you free advice.)
  4. Read. You will never come reach the bottom of the barrel on social media articles and blog posts. And since social media is ever-changing, reading is one of the only ways to keep up on the trends. Social Media Examiner is a great site to stay up-to-date on social media trends.
  5. Start small. Don’t take your business to each social platform at once. Instead, choose one or two platforms to get your feet wet. Then branch out if necessary. If you’re a business selling to customers, I recommend starting with Facebook and Twitter. If you’re a business selling to other businesses, I recommend LinkedIn and Twitter.
  6. Read. Be sure not only read how to “use” the social media platforms, but also take time to read about social media analytics, or metrics that help you determine how effective your methods are. These metrics can help you determine what’s working and what’s not working. Some tols even allow you to see how your competition – or even brands in which you aspire to be – are doing.
  7. Pay attention to yourself. While what you do should not be the “be all, end all” determinant for how you use social media platforms for your business, your personal use of social media will tell you a lot. Pay attention to what you like and don’t like, the things you respond to and don’t respond to, and even how much time you spend on each platform.
  8. Read. Run out of ideas of what to post? Try looking for articles on content ideas. I’m sure you’ll come across a few. Here’s an article by Copyblogger and 101 Web Content Tips, Ideas, and Resources by Nick Usborne to get you started.
  9. Pay attention to other people. If you watch close enough, people will tell you how they use social media without you even asking. For example, if you watch close enough, you can tell who has their Facebook and Twitter accounts linked, what location someone posted from, and even from what type of device they’re posting. You can also get a good idea of demographics, interests, and personalities.
  10. Read. You may realize that keeping your social media pages up-to-date can be very time consuming, thus causing this to become a backburner tactic. Don’t let the temptation settle in. There are several tools and articles out there with effective time management in mind. Before giving up, take time to learn about and make use of this advice. It can drastically change how you go about managing your social media content.
  11. Pay attention to other business. Both your competition, compliments, and even businesses that seemingly have nothing to do with your business will provide hints as to what to post, how to post, and how often. It’s no shame in my game to say that I’ve frequented the Facebook pages of Target, Disney, Meijer (regional retailer), and Walmart to get ideas. They have good ideas, and I have no problem in CASE(ing) the joint…in an oh so legal manner. (FYI…CASE = Copy and Steal Everything)
  12. Did I mention, read. Reading and talking to others will be your biggest asset to becoming a social media pro. And not only will you know what to do, you’ll be equipped to know truth from lie as well as what works and what doesn’t work for you.

Everyone is not well-versed in blogging and nor should they be. Your main objective, to say what you have to say. To give advice, sell your product. or whatever you do best. My objective, to help you know how to get them to read it. So as your write your post, be sure to keep these tips in mind.

Blogging tips that'll get them reading.
Blogging tips that’ll get them reading.
  1. Write about something your audience cares about. We often make the mistake of writing what we care about only. Well, what if no one else care?  If you’re a makeup guru, the majority of what you talk about should be makeup and fashion and not about what you did at school, unless you’re going to school for beauty and fashion. Similarly, if your audience is into gaming, the latest MAC beauty products shouldn’t be at the heart of your discussion – even if you are into beauty products.
  2. Write from your heart. There’s nothing more painful nor more dishonest than writing what you think they want to hear. Real content and authentic passion can only be conveyed when it comes from the heart.
  3. Capture their attention at the beginning. Start with a short story, statistic, or anecdote that the reader can relate to to capture interest. Then
  4. Select a title that captures your audience but is also SEO-friendly. Your title is crucial as it’s used to entice the reader. And it needs to be SEO-friendly because you want to entice the search engines.
  5. Make it plain. A blog is not a scholarly journal and your readers shouldn’t have to feel as if they’re looking to obtain their post-graduate degree by reading your blog. Even if the topic is more academic or advanced by nature, be weary of using terms that may trip them up or stop them from reading all together. Just because the topic is of interest doesn’t mean your audience is well-versed in the jargon.
  6. Use formatting and bullet points to draw interest to key points. I’ve said this many times and I say it again. This helps draw the eyes to important points to those with short attention spans (ahem, me).
  7. Get to the point and keep it short. Eliminate unnecessary works and back off the fluff. We get it. You like to play on words. Well, your readers like their time. There’s a time to be clever and a time to simply say
  8. Choose good pictures. While not even close to the most important pat of the blog, pictures add a visual element to a blog, breaking up the redundancy of the black and white. (Even wonder why people like to read magazines? Nothing scientific, but based on my 2 cents, I would say the images are why.) Start here for free pics.
  9. Vary the type of content you publish. Blogs don’t always have to be words. Think about embedding a video or maybe an all picture blog post. Reading is not everyone’s thing. Video engages the visual and audio learner. And pictures are just a good way to convey information differently.
  10. Provide the audience with a glimpse of your personality. People relate to people, and the words on the page have a way of conveying who you are. Leverage your uniqueness to add flavoring that only you can do. While there may be many who provide similar services, there’s only one you. Use that to your advantage.

Until next time


Confused Man
That moment when you just want to get to the point.

In the corporate world, there is not a day that goes by where someone says something that says something that makes you want to smack them. And you want to smack them because you have to pull out the thesaurus to have even the most remote idea of what they are talking about. These things are so over your head that you feel like either you didn’t spend enough time on vocab or they are just trying to prove something. (Don’t believe me? Go to, where the tagline is “Where corporate speak goes to die”.)

I feel that when someone says something so over your head, or as we like to say, use “big words”, they just don’t know what they are talking about. On the other hand, if they can take the time to break it down to the layman, then they have a great understanding of the subject…in and out. There’s no longer the need to impress. Instead, there’s a need to communicate.

The same is true for blogging. We get it. Your subject is deep or super creative or super geeky. Whatever the case is, while your audience may share the interest, their passion and level of understanding isn’t as deep as yours. In fact, that’s why they’re reading your blog; to learn and gain a greater understanding of the topic at hand. In this case, the last thing you want to do is use language that they don’t yet – and maybe don’t care to – understand. And if you can’t communicate on their level, you’ve lost them.

People have zero desire to get tripped up over terms, and they won’t waste their time on a site that makes them think about the words too hard. They want to gain information in the easiest manner possible. And if you’ve failed at speaking plain English, you lose them.

Instead, tell stories, use examples, and paint pictures that they can relate to. This approach much more palatable. It’ll leave a pleasant taste in their mouth, and they may even come back for more. And you once again are hailed as the genius you already know you are.

Until next time.

Live, love, prosper.


As we know, not much in life is free. And whoever said love was free lied. That’s like saying social media is free. Everything in life comes at a cost. If currency isn’t the cost, then you better believe blood, sweat, tears, time, energy or some other type of emotional or physical output will be required. That’s just reality. So when you read this list, rejoice only momentarily. Though these are free tools, please expect to invest blood, sweat, tears, time, intellect, and a bit of frustration to make these free marketing tools worth your while.

Now that I have that out of the way, here’s my list of top tried and true free marketing tools and resources:

Blogs & Websites Whether you’re looking to produce a simple blog or a full-fledged website, WordPress is my top pick. With customizable themes (and a little design talent), you can easily create a unique website or blog that you can truly call your own. Don’t get me wrong, those in the industry often can spot a blog from a mile away. However, blogs are becoming more acceptable for use as a website. Not only are small businesses using them, well-established organizations are also using blogs to publish and house content. also integrates easily with top social meida sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, which makes it just that much easier to drive traffic to your blog. Finally, plug-ins, mobile apps, and other tools adds convenience while simplifying the management of your account. (Note: isn’t to be confused with should be left to those who are more tech savy. Plus, you will incur costs as you will need to house a blog or website utilizing on an independent server.)

Social Media Management

HootSuite. Perfect for managing multiple social media accounts. Hootsuite integrates nicely with Facebook (including Facebook pages), Twitter, LinkedIn, and WordPress. Whether you need to post in real time or want to schedule posts, HootSuite makes it easy to do either. In addition, with a web app as well as mobile apps, Hootsuite lets you keep up with your social media accounts whether at a desk or on the go. And with Twitter notifications pushed to your cell phone, you have the option of being notified of customer engagement without the need of actually going into an account. The main areas of content I have with Hootsuite is 1) posting links and 2) posting images. For some reason, posting links seems to be fickle. You have to post it in the area with your content instead of the area that asks for a link. If you put it in the area that asks for a link, it will only post if you shorten it using the tools. Not good for me since I create custom links with bitly for future measurement. And neither links nor images seem to show the preview on the actual social media site. Since I believe previews and images increase engagement, I take the extra step to increase engagement. There is a paid option that allows more capabilities, however, if you only need lightweight management for up to five social media accounts, you’re golden.

TweetDeck. This is one of my favorite social media management tools. Frankly, TweetDeck is what got me hooked on Twitter. If you’re using Twitter from the website, do yourself a favor and use a different program to access Twitter. It’s so much more fun. TweetDeck was my first choice, and I haven’t gone away from it yet. (Though there was a scare before. I digress). Like HootSuite, TweetDeck is perfect for managing several social media accounts. TweetDeck is another free marketing tool that plays nicely with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I have found it a little harder to link Facebook pages to TweetDeck and I haven’t found the mobile app to be as friendly as Hootsuite. The inability to manage Facebook pages and the lack of a mobile app I like is what places HootSuite above TweetDeck in my book from a professional point of view. However, due to it’s desktop application that allows you to view multiple columns simultaneously, TweetDeck is a winner in my book. (Not only does TweetDeck allow you to show columns related to specific social media accounts, TweetDeck also can be customized to show columns including tweets related to a search term or hashtag (#) even if you don’t follow the user. This is perfect for industry research or stalking the competition. (Come on. We’ve all done it.)


MailChimp. I’ve done the research. MailChimp won over Constant Contact as the preferred email tool. Here’s the scoop. MailChimp allows you to send up to 12,000 emails per month to up to 1,999 subscribers ( – view the details). If you’re just getting started or don’t have a massive email list, it’s a no brainer. MailChimp provides email templates, stores your email lists as well as integrates with Facebook and Twitter. Moreover, with MailChimp, you have access to important stats that help you determine the effectiveness of your email program. Here’s the caveat, I highly recommend you invest the time into choosing the right template and customizing it based on your needs. If you need to hire a designer to help with your template, please do so. And if you need to hire a consultant or content specialist/strategist to help determine the appropriate content strategy for your email program, please do so. Otherwise, you may just be spinning wheels. That’s worth the investment.

Yesware. As a plug-in on Google Chrome and Gmail, this is one of the best friends a person in direct sales could have. Not only does it allow you to create templates for sales letters, Yesware also allows you to track your emails. And it doesn’t just show you whether or not the email has been opened/viewed. Yesware also tells you the number of times the recipient opened/viewed your email as well as how long ago the email. Note: This is only free up to a certain number of tracked emails.


Public Library. Remember all that work you did trying to identify your target market. From books to databases, the public libaray may have what you need to make market research a little easier. Since the tools may not be staring you in the face, do this: walk to the information desk and ask about the available small business resources. It will definitely take time to do your research and put the tools to work for you. Large organizations have access to sophisticate marketing tools and you may have that access also. Remember, my goal is to promote smarter marketing. Stop wasting time pushing messages to the wrong people and stop being in the dark as it relates to industry trends and best practices. It’s time you grow your business up with sophisticated tools that will only benefit you in the long run. #enoughsaid

Webinars, White Papers, Blogs, eNewsletters, Magazines: Okay. Organizations don’t provide free webinars (seminars via the web), white papers, blogs or newsletters simply out of the kindness of their hearts. All of these efforts are part of their marketing strategy. With a variety of goals in mind, from positioning themselves as experts and industry leaders to generating leads and awareness, organizations provide a wealth of information through these tactics. Though you may not be ready to bite on a paid service, there’s no reason you shouldn’t take advantage of the free knowledge they’re providing. Since this information can become overwhelming, be sure to only attend, download, and subscribe to items that are beneficial to your organization. And even with that you have to be sure to be conscientious of information overload. My top 5 organization to follow are: Social Media Examiner, HubSpot, Marketing Profs, AdAge, and Mashable. (Note: Certain organizations may require you to download specific software to access their information or attend their webinar. For “print” applications, the most common software needed is the Adobe PDF reader.)

Free Classes/Seminars: Your local SCORE chapter – who is part of the Small Business Administration – and other organizations may provide free offline classes and seminars. Take advantage of these. First, determine the local organizations that provide assistance to small businesses. Then make an appointment to see a rep to learn more about the organization. Ask if they provide classes, workshops or other resources. And don’t forget to visit their website often and sign up to receive their emails as this may be where they push information regarding upcoming classes, seminars or workshops as well as other useful information.

YouTube: Make this your friend and search for your topic of choice. I bet you’ll find something. Once again, organizations and consultants are looking to generate leads. They’re willing to provide information in order to establish themselves as an expert. Be cautious of the information you receive. Remember anyone can put information on YouTube, meaning that the information they give you could be as wrong as someone calling a blue wall red. So if you aren’t well-versed on the topic, be sure to run the information by someone who is. Even a well produced video could give you horrible information. Just saying. As my friend says, “you’ve been warned.”

Other – You

Your Yapper (AKA Networking). From local meetups to simply talking to a person at the local starbucks, networking is a key marketing tool. I sometimes think people get tired of hearing about my consulting business. And they probably do. But guess what? When they’re looking for a marketing consultant, I am top of mind. Goal achieved. So, toot your own horn. Even if the person you’re talking to doesn’t have a need for your product or service, they may know someone who does. Don’t count anyone out. However, do be wise about who you should spend more time vs. those who would simply benefit from a business card, warm smile, and quick overview of your offerings. And here’s what’s even better about networking – people take the time to tell you about resources you didn’t even know existed. (Shout out to my friends and family for being on top of it. They’re always sending or telling me about something that they believe I may deem valuable)

Blood, Sweat & Tears (AKA Hard Work). This is your number one free marketing tool. Either you put the time and energy into it, you pay someone to do it, or it doesn’t get done at all. It’s as simple as that. Blogs don’t write themselves, emails don’t send themselves, and you can’t benefit from the research if you don’t take the time to gather AND process it. From anxiety to hours of writing to bonafide tears, I’ve experienced it all. Like I said in a different post said, “Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it won’t cost you.” I’m a personal witness. But I can also testify to the fact that it truly is worth it.

Live, love & prosper

Part 1 focused on general Twitter rules, where rule 5 was build relationships. As stated in Part 1, this isn’t to be an all-inclusive guide on all things Twitter. Instead, this is intended to help you understand what it means to be polite and acceptable when using Twitter. While this is intended for businesses, I’m sure there are individuals who can also benefit from these Twitter tips.

The Next 5 Lessons: Building relationships & beyond

  • Engage with you followers by using speaking to your followers using “@” mentions, sending a direct message, or even retweeting something they’ve posted. This is a great way to build relationships and say, “hey I’m interested in you too.”
  • Respond to people who have given you a shout out, “@” mentioned you, have sent you a direct message, or retweeted one of your posts. If you don’t respond, this is almost as bad as not speaking back to someone who said hello to you – and frankly, that’s rude. (Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to respond to people who send you SPAM.) Hot Twitter tip: Using a smart phone app and setting up a notification should will greatly help monitor these interactions.
  • Be a person. For some reason, organizations forget they are human. Instead, they become this brand or icon. While you need to be consistent with your brand, a simply random post lets your follower know you’re a person. Maybe you can talk about a remodel. Talk about what the environment in the office is like. Or just maybe even tweet what you’re having for lunch and how great it is. If you can tie it in with your brand, even better. This just lets people know, “Hey. I’m a person.” By the way, this means you can’t schedule everything  – you’ll actually need to be on Twitter (or a Twitter app) sometimes.
  • Say something valuable. Many times on Twitter we like to businesses like to push their product or service. ROI is the final goal, right? It is. However, you have to balance pushing your offering with actually saying something your user wants to hear. In fact, I know one brand who doesn’t directly push their product often. Instead, they reinforce their brand using humor, thus, building brand equity. This along with the other tactics they’ve used to in a rebranding effort has made me consider making the purchase over other top names.
  • Follow back. When people follow you on Twitter, it means they have interest in what you have to offer. Don’t be so rude to not follow back. I know that when you follow a lot of people, your Twitter timeline becomes hard to manage and follow. However, this gives you an opportunity to put the Twitter list function to use.

NOTE: This message is intended for twitter novices and even some who think they are twitter experts. This is NOT intended to help you know how to use Twitter or help be an all-inclusive guide on all things Twitter.  Learn what annoys Twitter users, can potentially get you blocked by users, can get you reported as SPAM, or can simply hinder your number of followers. If you think you know everything, maybe you don’t want to read. All others…enjoy.

The First 5 Lessons in Twitter Etiquette


  • Tweet. No, seriously. Do you know the amount of people who create Twitter accounts but then don’t tweet. This is not cool. In fact, if you’re looking to increase your number of followers, be sure that you have a significant number of tweets under your account. If you don’t tweet, there’s a chance that the end users won’t follow you.
  • Tweet frequently. Not just do you need to tweet, you need to tweet more than every once in a blue moon. On the other hand, this doesn’t mean tweet obnoxiously. By tweeting, you help others know “who you are.” And once you start engaging back and forth, you may even build some valuable relationships.
  • Complete your Twitter profile. This is how people know who you or your organization is and what you represent. This is also a way people decide whether or not they want to follow you. No profile is super suspect, especially with the number of Spammers out there.
  • Get to know the language. It’s TWEET people. You can tweet something or have a twitter post. I hate when people say that they like to Twitter something. There’s also hashtags (#), at mentions (which looks like “@”),DM which means to direct message which goes directly to your user, and RT
  • Build relationships. Social media is a thing of the new. Social networking is how the social sites began. Media is a one way street. Networking implies a give and take. It implies building relationships and getting to know one another. However, organizations make the mistake of being just one way, and this can be simply due to the fact that they’re oblivious to the fact that they don’t know how to interact. To determine how to interact, you have to determine how your audience is using the social networking site. This may take a bit of primary and secondary research, including simple observing to make this determination.

I normally don’t do product reviews, however, with my new found admiration of Press This by WordPress and a conversation I was having on Twitter, I was inspired to share how TweetDeck took me from a Twitter “hater” to a Twitter fan.

Rating: 4.5 stars