Category: Resources

Are You Getting the Right Kind of Social Media Help?

What do you want to accomplish? What resources you have available to you?  What is your experience and understanding digital marketing and social media?

The answers to these questions can help you understand exactly what level of social media help would enable you to reach your business goals in the most efficient and effective way.

For more about what you can expect from social media and how to decide what help you need, read my post on Linkedin, What Kind of Social Media Help Do You Need?



Budgeting for Social Media

Are you allocating enough money, time, and talent to run a successful social media effort?

Social Media does not need to be costly, but just like everything else,  you do need to put the right amount of investment in to get the result you are seeking.

In my article, Calculating the Cost of Social Media I outline what resources need to be considered for various levels of effort.


Why and How I Keep My Inbox Zero

Alright, first I will confess that I rarely get my inbox to zero but I try and usually end the day with less than 10 emails in my inbox.


Like many of you, I juggle a lot. In some ways, my inbox has become a virtual to-do list. When the inbox is full I feel a bit overwhelmed and disorganized.

A person who is juggling multiple demands and responsibilities will have any number of questions, requests, and bits of information being virtually launched at them at all moments of the day. By keeping an organized and clear inbox I am able to be responsive, efficient, and dependable.

If you Google “Inbox Zero” you will find many articles with a variety of tips on how to achieve Inbox Zero. Many repeat the advice of Merlin Mann who is credited for the term Inbox Zero and his 5 step advice to delete, delegaterespond, defer and do. There is also advice out there that tells you to only check your email at the top of each hour or only twice a day. Some of that might work for you, but some may not. We all have our own styles and demands on our lives and the key is to find the process and the technology that works for each of us individually.

Here is the process and technologies I use.


I have used Gmail exclusively for over 10 years. If you send an email to my past business or to my current business you are actually sending it to a Gmail account. Gmail has a variety of features and plugins that help you organize your life but you do not have to be stuck with an address to use them. Through Google Business, you can set up your own professional email address.

So how do I use Gmail to keep my life organized?

Multiple Email Accounts

I have multiple email accounts for each section of my life. One is my personal account, one is the account I use for managing fundraising activities for my son’s school band, one is for work and the email of my past company is still active? Why so many emails? It allows me to wear one hat at a time. I can check my personal email less often because there is less likely to be anything urgent there. I can ignore the band email until I am ready to sit down and work on my volunteer activities there. My current company email I keep open almost all of the time and my past company email still exist because that is how some people still know how to get in touch with me.


The filters in Gmail act like traffic cops. I have all the emails that go to my previous company email being sent on a detour to my current company. This way I do not miss an email that was sent to my previous address and I also don’t need to log in to check the previous email. You can also filter emails by topic or by the sender. I have a family member who constantly sends emails to my work address instead of my personal address simply because that is the address in her contacts list. Yes, I have asked that she change it, but change is hard for some people. So I simply filter her emails to skip the inbox and be redirected to my personal account.

Below is the screenshot of my previous company email being redirected to my current company. You will find all  your filter options  under settings and then the tab “Filters and Blocked Addresses.”



To stay informed I subscribe to Google Alerts and newsletters about many subjects. I receive over 100 informative emails per day. This could become a huge distraction. I made the choice to have all my alerts and other newsletters to be sent to my personal email instead of my work email so that I can avoid such distraction from my most important inbox. I have also set up filters so that such emails actually skip the inbox and are directed into their appropriate folders for me to access when I am ready to sit down and sort through such information. You will notice in the screenshot below that I have filters for incoming bills and coupons set up as well. Notice that there is an exclamation mark in front of bills. The reason is the folders are organized in alphabetically, but Bills is an important folder for me, so I added an exclamation mark in front of the word bills to ensure that the folder is on the top.


You can also set up subfolders. I have a folder for my son Dylan with the subfolder underneath for emails related to Marching Band.



In my work email, I have a folder for every client and every type of internal messages. I do not set up filters for all messages but once an email is answered I file it into the appropriate folder even if I am still waiting for a response.

Setting Reminders

There was a time when my inbox was full of emails I was waiting for a response back from or that I was waiting to think through or uncover an answer before I responded. This was an inbox that filled up with lots of anxiety-inducing to-dos staring at me everytime I opened my email. This all changed when I discovered Boomerang.

You can try Boomerang for free and receive 10 message credits per month or get all kinds of fun, organizing features starting as low as $4.99 a month and going up to $49.99 per month.

I use the free version still. When I respond to an email and am waiting for a timely response back I set my boomerang to remind me to ping that person again if I do not hear back by a certain day and time. This allows me to file the email out of my inbox and into the appropriate folder until boomerang sends me a reminder.

Another feature I use is the ability to write an email and schedule it to go out on a certain day/time.

These features are simple and, except for Boomerang, have been around for a very long time. Yet it seems every time I sit down with a client or peer and their inbox is open I see hundreds and sometimes thousands of unopened emails in their inbox. I feel myself shaking and the overwhelming urge to clean it up. Maybe I am a little OCD but it makes me wonder if not enough people are aware of the simple ways that are available to keep their digital world a bit more tidy.


You need a content marketing plan: Here’s how to create a great one

There’s more to content marketing than writing blog posts, creating ebooks and promoting your content through advertisements and social media post.

To be successful, you need to be active and engaging and offer information people they are looking for.

One of the biggest mistakes that brands make when they are creating content thinking in terms of sales and advertising. Their focus is on what they want their audience to know about them.

This was how marketers thought for a long time. However, content marketing is an evolving organism that changes alongside technology and consumer preferences. Not too long ago it was easy to create content or an outbound message and grab the attention of your target audience. Today, however, consumers are confronted by outbound strategies constantly through commercial interruptions, pop-up ads, junk mail, and unsolicited emails. Not only have people become numb to it, they are using technology to block it. 

To be fair, promoting content all about your brand is an honest mistake because the questions you start with when you begin to craft a strategy start with focusing on your business goals. When I sit down with a client I start with the questions what do you want your audience to know? How do you want them to feel? What do you want them to do?

If your content planning stops there your strategy will be very one-sided and one-sided relationships are never very successful.

The next step of developing your content strategy is understanding what your audience wants from you.


Without a holistic plan, your marketing efforts can be a waste of time – or worse a recipe for a failed relationship with your prospects and clients.

If you want to develop quality relationships with your audience, develop a plan to be there when they search for answers, be engaging,  and inspire action.  Here are a few ways to make that happen. 

You Need to Know your Audience

Your goal is to attract the best potential customers, not just anyone with a pulse.

To do this you need to know more than demographic information of the people you are trying to reach, such as income, zip code, age, or gender. If you are looking to develop a content strategy that builds relationships which lead to sales and brand advocacy, you need to know their story.

To develop their story, look beyond the problems you solve for your customers and reflect on who they are. What are their goals? Who would they turn to for advice? What do they value? Who are they trying to impress?

Knowing these answers will help you to create content that is more than information. By knowing their story your content can create a picture of a solution that not only meets a need but aligns with their identity.

You Need to Stand Out

When everybody and their mother is able to create and publish content the Internet becomes a very noisy place.

A 2013 Nielsen survey showed that 27 million pieces of content are shared every day and according to the 2015 Content Marketing Institute survey 86% of B2B marketers and 77% of B2C marketers use content marketing.

So how can your content stand out?

1. Make your titles actionable or tangible. Let people quickly know what they will get when they tune into your content.

2. Be sure that your content is easy to quickly scan. Many people now scan through the content first before deciding to invest the time in reading your content or watching your video in-depth.

3. Make sure you are using the keywords that your audience is using.  This not only helps you rank higher in their search results, it also means you and your audience are aligned with how you speak about and think about the topic.

4. Don’t put obstacles in the way of your content. Don’t litter your content with several call-to-action buttons or advertisements. Your audience is giving you their attention to learning from you, not to be sold to.

5. Take your audience on a journey. Make sure your content is organized with a well-defined beginning, middle, and end that had valuable nuggets of information to discover each step of the way.

Bonus: Let your personality and personal stories shine through.

Right Time Right Place

If you spent your late nights calling on your daytime business prospects and then slept during the day when they returned your calls, your business would definitely suffer.

The same is true online. When you post your content, not just time of day but also the day of the week, time of the month, or season of the year will have an impact.

Knowing who your audience not only helps you write content the feels personalized for them, it also enables you to know how they spend their days, weeks, and months and what content may be relevant to them at a specific point in time.

Getting your content published at the right time is only the beginning. Through targeted advertisements on the various social media sites, you set your content to show up right when your audience is writing about or search for a specific topic.

With each piece of content, you publish and promote you can track various analytics to learn more about your audience so that you can make continuous improvements

The final step of your plan is to make sure you have not lost focus on why you are creating content in the first place. It is about supporting your business goals. Every piece of content you produce should have an actionable and measurable goal attached to it that is tied to moving your prospects through the sales funnel.

Attract New Donors through Storytelling

Did you know that 72% of all charitable contributions are made by individuals? That eclipses foundations (15%), bequests at (8%), and corporations (5%) by a large margin. In addition, 88% of dollars raised comes from 12% of an organization’s donors and that nearly 1/3 of all online donations are a result of peer-to-peer fundraising.  (source: nptechforgood)

Now: Imagine if you could get enough existing individual donors to influence their peers to also become donors. That would be a pretty powerful thing, right? But that can only happen by creating and sharing stories that can be passed along.

People Prefer Stories to Stats

Statistics are a great way to inform people about an issue or a solution. They speak to the screen_shot_2016-03-31_at_1-24-57_pmmind. We become more knowledgeable. We may share that knowledge with others making more people knowledgeable. That’s great. But if you want people to act and to be moved, you need to appeal to their emotions, and you do that with stories.

My Story

My first nonprofit client was the Atlanta Children’s Shelter. I received an invitation from them in the mail – you know, that box that the USPS puts a bunch of unwanted letters and flyers in that we all throw away without looking at? That’s what I did with their invitation; I threw it away.

It was only when I checked my email and read a message from a friend telling me to look out for an invitation from the shelter that I dug it out of the garbage, wiped the spaghetti sauce off, and realized that I’d been invited by a friend to attend a fundraising breakfast for the shelter. My friend was a table captain in charge of inviting people to sit with her at her table of 10. Not only did I want to support my friend, I also suspected I would be interested in meeting the other people at her table, so I RSVP’d.

The event was lovely. I learned about what the shelter did and about the needs of homeless moms. It was educational. I was happy that I attended. And then it happened.

A beautiful woman who I spoke with when we were mingling before the event took the stage. Earlier, she told me she was a little nervous, and I assured her she would do great because of how articulate she was. As she ascended the stage, poised and graceful, she began to unfurl an awesome (in the old-fashioned sense of the word – full of awe) story: She had been a client of the Atlanta Children’s Shelter. She had been homeless. This radiant, intelligent woman was on the streets with her child. She did not represent what I had always assumed what homelessness looked like, yet there she was, telling her story.

I was hooked. I was ready to get involved. I was going to make some calls and see how I could help. But helping by pulling out my checkbook at that exact moment was not what I was thinking. The deal was still not closed. Not until I learned from the next speaker that their operating budget was a little higher than other shelters because their pre-school was NAEYC accredited.

I was a mom of two young boys and I knew the high standards of a NAEYC accredited preschool. I had removed my own children from pre-schools who chose not to renew their accreditation because of the cost of NAEYC. It was expensive, but I knew it was worth it. Here was a preschool for homeless children ensuring that even though these kids were off to a rough start, they were going to have a quality education. The moment I heard this my checkbook was out and I was writing the biggest check I could afford.

There are a number of lessons in my personal story. One is that direct mail is equivalent to throwing dollars in the trash.

  • 5.6 million tons of catalogs and other direct mail advertisements end up in US landfills annually.
  • 44% of junk mail is thrown away unopened, but only half that much junk mail (22%) is recycled.
  • The average American household receives 848 pieces of junk mail per household, equal to 1.5 trees every year—more than 100 million trees for all U.S. households combined.
  • Junk mail destroys 100 million trees a year—the equivalent of deforesting all of Rocky Mountain National Park every four months.
  • Largely due to deforestation, junk mail manufacturing creates as much greenhouse gas emissions annually as 3.7 million cars.
  • Americans pay 370 million annually to dispose of junk mail that does not get recycled.

(Source: NYU)

Also, people respond to their peers and stories move people. But one of the more important lessons is you need to know what stories will move people. For me, it was her story plus the NAEYC accreditation that did it. However, once I started working with ACS I learned that most people did not put the latter issue high on their value list. Everyone has a different trigger.

Know Your Audience’s Hot Button Issues

People will donate based on what their values are. Nonprofits seeking donations can be one of the most competitive industries out there. The resources (money) that people are willing to give is limited and if they choose to donate those dollars to cure cancer, then they won’t have that money available for homeless children or premature babies. Individually, we can’t save the entire world, so we have to focus on giving according to what we value most.

Why do people give? Here are 7 main reasons:

  1. They feel like they are part of the community and it is their responsibility to contribute to the good of their community.
  2. Their religious convictions motivate them to contribute to the greater good.
  3. The see charitable giving as good for business either for tax breaks or PR opportunities.
  4. They get involved for the networking opportunities (remember why I initially went to the fundraising breakfast)
  5. They feel a moral obligation to “do the right thing.”
  6. They have been recipients of a nonprofit’s service.
  7. They were raised to share their wealth.

Your stories need to appeal to at least one of these motivations and it needs to do so in an emotional way.

Structuring Your Story

Stories do not have to be long. Consider the challenge to tell a story in six words or less which led to “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”

A single image can tell a story. For example:

Meals on Wheels


The key to a good story is that you get your audience involved with the main character. You show them the challenges they are facing and provide the opportunity for your audience to make a difference.

Telling your story through digital platforms today provides many more opportunities to build relationships with your donors based on what they care about. Through retargeted ads you can show
specific ads for stories that are already resonating with them.

Every social network is investing heavily in video which is a more dynamic way to share your stories.

Most importantly, stories shared online and through social ads allow your audience to get engaged through comments and by sharing them with their peers.

Remember that 1/3 of all online donations are a result of peer-to-peer fundraising.

That is a big deal.

Many nonprofits feel the need to post content daily on social media, which yes, you should post daily. But be careful to not post content just to mark it off your to-do list. There are nonprofits that I have supported, that I have been passionate about, but that I had to simply unfollow their social sites because when I saw the updates my attitude was “so what!” or “that again?” Be mindful that your content is constantly compelling by being passionate about the story you are telling as opposed to feeling compelled to post an update.

When you tell your stories, make sure you lead your audience to a call-to-action that is appropriate and seamless. Maybe you’re focused on increasing awareness about your mission and therefore your call-to-action is for your audience to spread the word. Maybe you need your audience to get involved and write to their representatives. Maybe you need volunteers.

Your call-to-action does not always need to be and should not always be about giving money. Give people other opportunities to get involved and the money will come.

Make sure your audience does not need to jump through weird hoops to respond to your story. They should be able to email with a click, not have to copy and paste or write down an email address. They should be able to donate through a site like Paypal, where they do not even have to pull out their wallet. Make sure volunteer opportunities are specific and signup is easy.

As a nonprofit, you are on a mission to make the world a better place. That mission is driven by the stories of the people you serve. Their stories drive the passion of the people who work in the nonprofit every day. Share those stories with that passion and your donors will work for you.

3 Content Management Tools You Have Not Heard Of

Part of my job is to constantly find and evaluate new tools. Not just so I can write this post for you each week, but so that I can make our work, and the work of the clients we coach, more efficient and effective. This week three little-known social media management tools picjumbo-com_hnck8404caught my attention as being quite useful, free or very low-cost, and easy to use.

Manage All Your Social Accounts and Images

MavSocial allows you to connect with the major social networks to monitor and post to them. This includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, and Linkedin. That is what first caught my attention, their list of supported networks includes a few that are not usually supported. With the success of social media being reliant on quality visuals and images, MavSocial has developed a resource to help you manage and organize your library of resources. They also have a stock photo library you can access as well as a built-in photo editing tool.

Find Engaging Content Related to Your Niche

PostPlanner  Focuses on helping their users identify and learn what type of content within your industry that gets the most engagement. The tool predicts, through a star rating system, what content will have high engagement.

Keep You Content Structured Properly For Various Purposes

Contentful is tackling the challenge of needed content to fit in a variety of devices. As we all know, all of our digital activity is moving to mobile. Digital marketers have for a long time thought about websites first when planning out that content. Today it is vital to think about mobile first.


Contentful makes your content accessible via APIs or Application Program Interface, which basically tells the content how it should be structured based on where the content will be displayed and what it will be used for.

Want to get our Tools posts in your inbox or keep up with the latest changes in social media?

3 Tools for Competitive Insight

Whether you are trying to set benchmark numbers or goals for your own social media efforts or trying to understand more about your customer, one of the best places to start is by understanding what your competition is doing as well as what is working or not working for them.

Here are three tools that can help you gather some of that competitive insight.

Compare Your Website with Your Competition’s

SEO Book: Page Similarity Comparison Tool allows you to enter multiple urls and compare the language that is being used on each site. This will help you compare side by side how you are presenting your brand to the world compared to your competition.

Below are just a couple of screenshots as an example of the information you can gather.



Compare the Share of Attention

How much online traffic is your competition? Of all your competitors, who is getting the most attention? Alexa can provide these answers for free and then if you have the budget and desire to dig a little deeper, Alexa’s paid services can cater to those needs as well.

Alexa’s free chrome extension provides valuable insights quickly and efficiently as you go from site to site.


Get the Competitive Long-View

Compete  (update: Compete no longer exist) will share the traffic of a site going back as far as 15 years. Whereas traffic is important, how visitors behave on a site is far more important. Did they stick around, search through other pages, and become repeat visitor? The answers to these question can tell you if the website and digital marketing efforts were attracting the right type of visitors and increase revenue.


Knowing how you compare to the competition and what is working for other brands is valuable as you continue to build your own brand, but remember to focus on who you are and want to be without falling into the trap of being a mirror image of your competition.

“Companies that solely focus on competition will die. Those that focus on value creation will thrive.”  – Edward de Bono

3 Tools to Find Out if Your Content is Working

89aztb8e5hYou have a good looking site. You have gone through hours of meetings to make sure that your content tells your audience exactly what you want them to know. You have even launched a blog and consistently posting your thought-leadership.

Is it working? How do you know? Here are 3 tools that can help you answer that question.


MixPanel pricing starts are free and goes up based on how many data points you are measuring. It takes less than 10 minutes to integrate their tool into your website. Once you have the code in place, mixpanel will start analyzing the behavior of your audience. Are they sharing your content? What are the demographics of the people who are visiting your site from social media channels such as Twitter? Where, in the sales funnel,  are you losing customers?

Simple Reach

Want to know which content works best? Where you should focus on promoting your content? What you should write more about? Then you should look into SimpleReach which provides real-time and historical reports of how your content is performing on your site as well as on all third-party sites. This will guide your strategy to getting the most ROI on your content marketing.

Rival IQ

Are you keeping pace with your competition? Are they making moves you need to know about? With Rival IQ, not only can you compare your performance against your competition, you will also be alerted when they start making moves that you need to be aware of.

5 Free Tools to Make Your Content Soar

People want to be inspired. People want to be educated. People want to feel connected.

What people don’t want is to be sold to.

This is why content marketing has become a marketers sharpest tool for lead generation and nurturing.

B2C companies that big get 88% more leads/month than those who don’t. computer-820281_1920-1

B2B companies that blog get 67% more leads per month than those who don’t.

However, there is a lot of content flying around. To help your content soar above the noise I have provided you a list of 5 tools to add to your content tool box. 

Be Emotional

It does not matter if your content is the great thing ever written if no one reads it and it is your headline that will entice people to read your content.  If you want people to think, be logical. If you want people to act, as in to read your content, you need to appeal to their emotions. That is where the Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer comes in handy,  to tell you if the emotional value of your headline. 

The headline of this post scored a 50%. 

This score indicates that your headline has a total of 50.00% Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) Words. To put that in perspective, the English language contains approximately 20% EMV words.

And for comparison, most professional copywriters’ headlines will have 30%-40% EMV Words in their headlines, while the most gifted copywriters will have 50%-75% EMV words in headlines.

A perfect score would be 100%, but that is rare unless your headline is less than five words.

Fix your Grammar

You may be like our Creative Director, Chris, and scored perfectly on the English part of the SAT and know all the grammar rules that most people did not even know existed, but you will still make mistakes. Every writer knows that the hardest part of writing is editing your own writing and it is not always feasible to have someone else’s eyes on your content before it goes out.

However, Grammarly has you covered. One of its many features is a Google plugin that will edit your content as you are writing on the various social media sites. The only thing about Grammarly is it is a computer checking a very complex language with many contradicting rules so the recommendations are not always right, but it will help you catch many of your grammar typos.

How complex is the English language? Take a look at this lovely poem, The Chaos.

Are You Speaking to the Masses?

Is your writing full of jargon or words that only show up on SAT tests? Or are you writing at a level that most people can understand and with words they use every day? You can check yourself with The Readability Test Tool.  Most of our content is at a 7th-grade level.

Are You Using Keywords?

Similar to using the words that everyone else uses on a daily basis to make sure your writing is readable, you also want to use words that people search for when they are looking for the information that you can provide. SEMRush will provide you with related words, tell you the search volume of the words, give you price points for bidding on the words for your Search Engine Marketing efforts and will even analyze the words your competitors are using.

Are You Credible?

bar-621033_1920The best way to show that you are a credible source is to point to other source information. When you are writing, include a bit of research information. Link to outside source information that can reinforce your point. The best place to start your research is Google.

Here is Life Hack Tips on How to Google like a Boss.

How to Cut Through Social Media Noise

Whether you are trying to build a network on social media or IRL (in real life), the first step is to know the type of people you want to meet and get to know as well as where to go to meet them.

Although there are many wonderful people in the world, when it comes to business networking,  you need to stay focused. In some ways, social media makes staying focusedcommunity difficult because there is a lot of noise as well as a lot of interesting conversations that can cause your attention to stray.

In other ways, social media makes staying focused easier because you can search for the exact people who want to meet, eavesdrop on their public conversations and know a bit about them before you even introduce yourself.

As you evaluate your online social networks, if you see that you have lost your focus or need to continue to grow your network, these tools will help.

Organize Your Followers Twitter and Instagram

SocialRank enables you to filter your followers by keywords in their bio,  or the hashtags they use as well as their location and the number of followers they have. You can import your existing followers and sort them into lists.

SocialRank continues to make improvements to the platform. The latest blog hints at new features to be able to sort your followers based on how engaged they have been with you and in what context.

Clean Up Your Twitter Account

If you have been on Twitter for awhile you may be followers some abandoned accounts or think you are still participating in a conversation with the accounts who have left the room. You can clean that up with Tweepi. Tweepi also helps you connect with the network of networks by seeing you is following the contacts you are following.

Track Followers and Unfollowers on Pinterest

Pinterest has not been the most open platform for third-party developers, but there is an app on iTunes called Followers Lite that works pretty well for tracking who is following you on Pinterest, who is not, and who has recently unfollowed you.

Engage with Existing Contacts

You may already have several contacts within your CRM that you want to network with and get to know better but you are not sure which social networks they hang out on and what name they use. That is where Nimble comes in.

Nimble software easily imports all of the basic contact information from Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, Facebook, Skype, Google+, phone, email, and more. But then Nimble goes above and beyond. The Nimble Contact Management solution goes to another level, augmenting each Contact Record with richly detailed information across social channels. You gain insights about the people in your network—to drive deeper social media relationships and more profitable campaigns.

Do you have any other social media management tools you would recommend? Let us know in the comments.