What the Hashtag!

by: Kenneth Cossin

How to Properly Use a Hashtag in Your Social Media

What the Hashtag!

Don’t freak out!  I am sure that you have seen the proliferation of the hashtag on television today, and you may be asking yourself why this little symbol has become so ubiquitous.  As most of us know, it has been used in many different forms of communication and technology from telephones, voicemail systems, programming languages, etc, but today, it has really gained a lot of traction in social media.  Often, the hashtag is overused, because there is not much thought behind its real function in social media.  Also, we hear so many mentions of hashtags every day in the media that we just think that it must be important, therefore, we must use them, too.  I bet some of us have even caught ourselves saying things like, “Hashtag, NotMyProblem” or something of the like to get a laugh or two.  Well, this little mark has a lot more functionality than just to gain laughs or to annoy social media users.

What is a hashag anyway?  It is a pound sign or hash (#) that is placed at the beginning of a word or phrase that makes your social media posts searchable.  For example, one can denote #USA or #USAFlorida at the end of a social media post to make the post findable or searchable after the post is made.  When a post is created with the hashtag, you can go back to search for this chosen word or phrase without having to remember everything that you posted.  To explain further, posts with a particular hashtag can be aggregated to tell a story, provide information, supply metrics for measurement, create social media trends, track results, or a plethora of other uses.  These uses are only limited by your imagination.

Hashtags are used by most social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, etc.  The hashtag can help users of the platform to locate accounts that they wish to follow – that is, accounts that strategically fit into their interests.  For example, let’s say that you want to follow some great marketers on Twitter that publish/promote content about the marketing field.  You could perform a search, “#Marketing” on Twitter to locate all tweets containing this hashtag.  A majority of the results will not only provide you with interesting information on the marketing field but also provide you with Twitter users that have tweeted this interesting information.

Using a hashtag effectively starts with knowing how many hashtags to use and how to be strategic with its use.  A great rule of thumb is to use no more than three.  Also, know what search keywords are important to your tweet.  These keywords or key phrases should be hashtagged in your post.  Note that overusing hashtags affects your post’s readability.  You can read some of my thoughts on this subject in my article, “3 Quick Tips on Writing a Readable Tweet,” that helps explain hashtag usage further.

So, next time you hear the word “hashtag” being used in the media, you will know what it means and how to use it properly.  While this catchphrase will fade from the short attention span of television and the viewing public, it will most likely continue its functionality in the social media world — that is, until something more catchy comes along!

photo credit: bunnysvintagevictory.blogspot.com

7 Tips to Creating Great Video to Increase Your Audience

by: Kenneth Cossin

With how easy it is today to create video, we, as bloggers, need to think of how to leverage video content to increase traffic to our site. I will give you some video tips that are easy and inexpensive enough for anyone to use to get started with video content for their blog.

Why make a video?

  • You can cram a lot of content and information into a short 5-10 minute video than you can into paragraphs of words.
  • When used effectively, you can build an audience and gain returning visitors through visual content.
  • Video helps to build trust with your audience. They see and hear what you are talking about, therefore they understand better the message you are trying to convey.

Types of Videos

Below are five types of videos that work well with blogs. They can be applied to almost any subject.

  • Teasers – These are short 30-90 second videos that show your viewers a product or service. They are much like a TV commercial.
  • Leadership – Demonstrate your authority on a subject. You can provide useful and unique information from your perspective.
  • Interviews – Open dialogues about a subject related to your blog. These videos can be fancy and shot in a studio or simple Internet conversations recorded with Skype or another video conferencing tool. Check out these five video interviewing tips.
  • Demos/Training – These videos show step-by-step how to do something or provide an overview of how something works.
  • Storytelling – A narrative related to subject matter associated with your blog.

Storyboarding

Starting off with a storyboard is very important whenever you set out to do a video. It does not need to be fancy, have awesome drawings or graphics, or have details that everyone would understand. It is a tool to help YOU plan out how the video will go from how the camera shots and angles will be set up to where the person or object on camera will be placed in the frame.

Equipment

Start off with some basic tools such as a simple video camera with an on-board microphone and 3-point lighting. There is no need to invest in expensive equipment. Find things around your house that will suffice. For example, locate a lamp that will light up a large area. Fill in the shadow areas with other lamps of varying intensity to minimize shadows. Be sure to strategically set them up to be flattering on the subject. When recording a video over the Internet, you can usually get away with only one light source and the built-in audio and video capabilities.

Talent

Whether you are doing an interview or having someone be your talent on camera, you always want to have a specific thought in mind. Therefore, you can clearly convey to your talent why you are choosing them and what you want them to do or talk about.

Scripts

Assemble a detailed verbatim script of what the person or people will say on camera. Also, have your talent practice the script to avoid bloopers and other mistakes. Your goal is to always capture on camera exactly what you want for your final product so that you minimize the amount of work you have in post-production. In essence, the more work you do in pre-production, the less work you will have in post-production.

Audio

Avoid recording outdoors at all costs unless your audio will be replaced with other audio. You do not want to ask your talent to return to your location to do voiceover work for inaudible parts. Also, test your audio to see if the recording volumes are set correctly.

Editing Software

It is very easy to edit your videos using iMovie for Mac or Movie Maker for PC. These software packages are inexpensive and have a small learning curve. They will allow you to cut out any undesirable parts and insert a leader, royalty-free music, images, graphics, cuts, or information.

Have Fun!

My last tip is to simply enjoy the process. No matter what type of video you create for your blog, you can make it a fun process with these simple tips above.

If you are ready to start your video adventure take a look at these tips on how to optimize your Youtube channel and how to optimize your videos.

Republished with permission from Marko Saric of How to Make My Blog.  Original post: http://www.howtomakemyblog.com/video/creating-great-video/

6 Ways To Increase Your Social Value

by: Kenneth Cossin

Building social value or clout requires a lot of time and effort. Therefore, planning out your journey to success can be daunting. I offer you six tips to get started. Be diligent in your effort; that is, set aside scheduled time for these tasks to be successful.


Connect with industry experts

A great way to start out is to discover what parts of an industry you are interested in. For example, if you are passionate about internet marketing, you may want to connect with blogging, social media, Analytics, SEO, or mobile experts. You can follow people in your specific niche or choose to follow people in all of these internet marketing categories.

Interview experts

A great way to gain valuable information for your blog and your followers is to do some interviews with them. Ask industry experts if they would be willing to give you an hour of their time for an interview. Give them details regarding your topic of interest and a list of interview questions. Therefore, you both will be prepared. You may have to ask a hundred people before you get one “yes,” but be persistent.

If you are going to publish these interviews on your blog, be sure to get permission and a signed release to use their likeness and record them. Having interviews for your blog readers to watch is always a great way to build your audience.

Write guest blog posts

Why not share the love? Be willing to write guest posts for popular blogs that have a great following. You can get your name out to others that read your guest posts while building your trust and authority. Also, be willing to let others guest blog on your blog. Doing so will help them build their trust and authority while you gain the mutual benefit of their knowledge.

Be inquisitive

Understand that in life, you are always going to be learning. So, why not seek out new knowledge? You will be surprised at the new things that you can learn each day if you take just a few moments to read and listen to the people around you. Be sure to make an extra point of applying the new knowledge and ideas regarding your industry.

Go to industry events

Most of us know that going to industry events provides a great networking opportunity. In addition to listening closely to the great presentations at these events, be sure to walk around and introduce yourself in the halls to everyone. Don’t be surprised if the most unlikely person you talk to winds up being the person that helps you out the most!

Monitor your brand

This goes without saying, no matter what social media platforms you choose to be part of, monitoring your brand, your tweets, your posts on Facebook, regularly updating your LinkedIn profile, and so on is imperative. Anything that detracts from the message you are trying to give people is extraneous. Therefore, get rid of it. Also, know that even the nicest people still judge. Be sure that what you put out there is what you would want them to judge you on.

These tips are just the beginning of your quest to finding social value. As you learn and practice, you will find that some things work better than others for you. Use what you know and what works best for you. Be open to new ideas and suggestions no matter how seasoned of an expert you are, and remember to stay inquisitive.

Republished with permission from Marko Saric of How to Make My Blog.  Original post: http://www.howtomakemyblog.com/social-media-2/social-value/

photo credit: NewToWallpapers.com

Communicating through Color

by: Kenneth Cossin

Pantone Leaves by Freecolorsource.comUsing color effectively in all kinds of imagery is a great tool to enhance your non-verbal or written communication.  Businesses, entertainers, marketers, the media, and so on use these to gain our attention and to convey their message quickly without us even knowing it.  Color that is used in a familiar context can be quite effective at building brand identity by creating a comfortable environment for the customer.  Thus, getting across a message to prospective consumers is much easier.  So, how does this all work?

Meaning

Let us start off by taking a look at the common meanings for different colors.  These meanings are very typical for western culture and may vary based on the culture to which you are visually communicating.

Red – strength, power, love, energy, danger

Orange – creativity, enthusiasm, determination, happiness

Yellow – Sunshine, cheer, happiness, yield, caution

Green – harmony, health, nature, safety

Blue – trust, loyalty, intelligence, wisdom

Purple – royalty, power, wealth

Black – Formal, elegant, power

White – Purity, innocence, cleanliness

Variations of these colors as well as combinations of them have an effect on how you perceive the message.  In addition, colors that complement one another, when used effectively, can combine the communication effects of color.

Context

When using color, you must always think of the context in which you are using it.  For example, if you are selling your home and you have decided to give it a fresh coat of paint, it is best to look to neutral and earth-tone colors.  These colors convey a message of wealth and richness.  Bright, flashy colors, such as pastels, do not typically sell houses.  There are exceptions in the tropical and subtropical climates, but as with every example, there are cases in which it will not fully apply.

Let us take another example.  Let’s say that you are furnishing your new baby’s room.  You would want to go with bright colors and entertaining themes.  These bright colors stimulate a child’s mind and positively affect his or her happiness.  According to some expert sources, some colors can affect your baby’s mood, behavior, and even feeling of well-being.

Mood

In marketing, companies will use color in their logos and in their messaging to influence buyer decisions.  They use color in their logos, designs, and ads to influence buying decisions.  The intent is to change your mood or your feelings toward their brand so that you will make a purchase.  Take a look around you next time you are in the store.  Identify what colors attract you, and think about how they make you feel.  You will be surprised by how much thought is given to color.

Nature

One of the best color coordinators is nature.  When seeking complimentary colors, look at the natural world, your environment.  As you will notice, the colors that we see are not exact or standard hues.  In addition, colors are typically a gradation of color, that is, things are not monochrome.  Therefore, you need to closely inspect the color combinations in order to ensure a natural complement.

Another awesome effect that occurs in nature is the ever-chaging color of our environment based on lighting and seasons.  Take advantage of these variations when choosing colors that communicate.  Remember that much of our communication is non-verbal, therefore, use these color choices in your clothing and accessories.

Generation

Depending on your age range, your choices of color will typically change.  For example, children will gravitate to reds, yellows, and oranges whereas adults will gravitate to greens, blues, and purples.

As we get older, social acceptance for color preferences changes which may strongly influence our color choices.  Therefore, if we are given the societal message that, “blue is for boys,” grown men are not going to say that their favorite color is pink.  Even women see the color pink as a color for young girls and, therefore, shy away from this color.

Popular Color Usage

It is fun to learn what colors are used most in marketing.  The type of product being sold can strongly influence the color choices.  For example, red is the most common color for beverage logos with blue running a close second and purple being the least common.

Next time you are designing something, think about the color choices that you make and why you are making them.  Use nature to inspire color combinations to help you effectively communicate your message.

image credit: freecolorsource.com

6 Great Storytelling Tips For Bloggers

by: Kenneth Cossin

Coming up with topic ideas for your blog can be very frustrating at times. Below, I offer some great storytelling tips to help get your content ideas flowing. If you need more blog ideas, check out this list of 31 types of ideas you can post.

Stories usually tell about a journey, whether it is a personal passage, a conflict, or a challenge. Along this journey, we hope that the hero will transform into a better version of himself. As bloggers we need to capture and translate these same concepts into our blogging to better engage our readers. Here’s what you can do:

Gather Your Raw Materials

Keep a journal of your topics and decide on what categories they fall into whether you are providing tips, tricks, creative ideas, suggestions, or opinions. For example, think about how we categorize films into genres of comedy, drama, thriller, and so on. The categorization process is the same.

Outline your ideas and jot down key words as they come to you. As a rule of thumb, make sure that you can express your ideas in about 800 words or less.

Break Down Your Story into Segments

Create a compelling introduction that grabs your reader’s attention within the first 2-3 sentences. If your reader is not continuing on with your entry after the first few seconds, he will quickly move on to another one. Touch on your key points clearly and concisely. That is, be detailed but brief. While this statement is rather vague, try spicing your reading up with a sprinkling of adjectives – not too many or you’ll lose your reader in the details.

Give your reader a sense of conclusion, a sense of closure. Therefore, briefly summarize your points at the end.

Use Visuals

Relate the concepts you are trying to present to something that people use or do every day. Use photos, videos, and podcasts to help visually draw in your reader. While videos and podcasts take a lot of time in terms of planning, coordinating, setting up, recording, and post-production, there are many simple tools that you can use as an individual to accomplish this goal.

Use Analogies

Telling stories often incorporates complex ideas. Therefore, it is always a good idea if you can relate an everyday task to what you are explaining. Also, you will want to make sure that your analogy relates directly and translates easily to the complex idea. For example, if you are showing someone how to play a grand piano, you may wish to equate it to playing darts or some other simpler task that still requires a keen sense of accuracy.

Leave out the Sub-plots

Note that there is no time for sub-plots to your blog entries. Sub-plots detract from the overall story that you are trying to tell. Be sure to remain brief and to the point.

Build to an Epic Conclusion

What is your reader getting from reading your blog post? Is it knowledge, ideas, solutions, answers to questions… Or is it simply them wishing they got those 10 minutes back in their life? Make your reader feel like it was worth their while to spend time with your post. Make it dazzle them; make it epic.

In summary, your blog posts should always be something that you are proud of. Bring creativity and excitement to your work through storytelling.

 

Republished with permission from Marko Saric of How to Make My Blog.  Original post: http://www.howtomakemyblog.com/writing/storytelling-tips/

Résumé

I am a passionate, energetic, and influential marketing executive with ability to take responsibility for corporate brand management and marketing communications.  I have a “can do” attitude with a strategic vision, promote attractive and sticky ideas, and successfully measure campaign performance and success.  I am a self-starter and straight-shooter with exceptional instincts and work well with teams.

Please view my résumé at: re.vu/kcossin

LinkedIn Profile: www.linkedin.com/in/kennethcossin/