Some days, I just want to stay in and away from everyone
I’ve always known I’m an introvert. But it wasn’t until I read Susan Cain’s Quiet that I realized how much work and cultural practices are built around extroversion. Quiet helped me figure out how to manage my work better to leverage my strengths as an introvert instead of trying to work around my weaknesses. If you are an introvert, this might help you too.
1. Find your optimal level of stimulation
Cain posits that introversion is about sensitiveness to stimuli, which made perfect sense to me. We introverts like to feel in control, we find it hard to adapt to disruptive experiences: strange places, strange people, noise. The key, I’ve learnt, is to first figure out what’s the best level of stimulation that makes you most productive.
Are you still wondering why everyone is talking about Hummingbird suddenly? Read on and these links will answer all your questions.
What is Hummingbird?
Hummingbird is the name of Google’s new search algorithm. Google claims it will provide better search results. Hummingbird is one of the biggest updates ever to how Google interprets user’s search queries and how it evaluates indexed webpages for a better match. Search Engine Land has a nice FAQ post that will give you more details. If you prefer a more visual approach, try this infographic.
Why is this important?
Wired has a good explanation on the impact and importance of Hummingbird, and to give you a glimpse:
“The biggest improvements involve longer search queries. Rather than just examining each individual word in a search, Google is now examining the searcher’s query as a whole and processing the meaning behind it.”
What will be the impact of Hummingbird on my site’s SEO?
Exact details are yet unclear and Google likes to keep people guessing when it comes to search algorithams. But Don Dodds has given a good summary of what is known as of now.
“Site owners that rely on the provision of high-quality content, that steer clear of black hat techniques, and that look to build multiple traffic streams using a universal marketing approach are those that will enjoy better long term results.”
Not much has really changed if you are a small business and are relying on good content, social referrals and customer feedback. HubSpot summarizes important factors nicely in their post.
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Jennifer Lewis voyaged into entrepreneurship with her own food business, and now helps other food businesses become successful. Her site, smallfoodbiz.com, has lots of resources and advice for artisan food entrepreneurs. She tells us about the specific challenges of running a small food business, her favorite social media platform, and more.
My questions are in bold.
How is starting a food business different from other forms of entrepreneurship? What peculiar challenges does a small food business-owner face?
People tend to come into the food world because they’re driven by passion for the items they make but they can face an uphill battle getting their products to market because of the numerous regulations that are specific to the food industry. This can be anything from health code permits to labeling regulations. It’s a complex world and one that’s very different from other types of entrepreneurial ventures.
Twitter announced its new scheduling feature yesterday. This has been expected for a while now, more so because of Twitter’s IPO and the need to project Twitter as a sophisticated advertising platform. Twitter’s official announcement says:
Starting today, all marketers using Twitter’s Ad Products can schedule organic or Promoted Tweets for specific dates and times up to a year in advance. These can be coordinated to go live with new or existing Promoted Tweet campaigns to enable you to plan your real-time campaigns at your convenience.
Twitter’s focus on advertising becomes obvious when you see that scheduling option is implemented as part of ads.twitter.com and not in the core twitter.com UI. But don’t worry, you can schedule tweets even if you are not advertising on Twitter. Here’s how:
Everyone seems to be talking about video marketing these days. And the rise of apps like Vine and Instagram video means that very short videos are back in the marketing mix.
Do you want to use videos to market your business but think it’s too difficult or are short on ideas? Well, here are some useful resources to help you get started.
If you are not sure if videos are the right tool for you or wondering what kind of videos to create, start with this recent post by SpinSucks:
“More and more companies are producing PR and marketing videos, and thanks to the web and social media, they have become easily shared pieces of content.”
One thing most marketers and business-owners want to know is how their marketing is doing over time. Most of us have a pretty good idea of how many Facebook likes we have today, but forget how many we had last month or the month before.
Here’s where Markitty takes your data from Facebook Insights and gives it to you in a more useful form: apart from showing you your total page likes every day for the last three weeks, we also show your likes per month for the last three months. So you can see your fan base growing over time.
Managing your brand’s presence on so many different social channels can be a pain, and one of the annoying aspects of it is getting the right cover photos for each one. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ — all have different guidelines for what the cover photo size should be.
Here is a list of official and unofficial references that will give you cover and profile picture specification for all social networks:
The cover photo of your Facebook page is very important: not only is it featured on your page, it is also prominently displayed in the user’s newsfeed when your page is recommended (paid or otherwise) by Facebook. Facebook’s official guidelines give very little detail but this page covers all you need to know.
Have you got your Twitter Analytics yet? I’m pleased we finally get some stats on Twitter (but you still need to create an ad account, even if you don’t run the ads). But it seems like too little way too late, especially with all the tools that provide Twitter stats already.
If you have already created a Twitter ads account, go to analytics.twitter.com. Click on Analytics on the top menu.
You get three pages: Timeline activity, Followers, and Websites.
First, you get this graph that shows your mentions, follows, and unfollows. That’s great, except… the graph is frustratingly difficult to read and make sense of.
Think you don’t have enough time for Twitter? If you have 15 minutes in the day, you can do this.
Day 1: Sign up and create your profile
Choose a username that is as close to your name or your business name as possible and is easy to remember. For example, we didn’t get “markitty,” so we got “markittyapp”.
Make your profile description interesting and snappy. Don’t just copy your boilerplate company description. Make it clear what your business is about or what you stand for; people should be able to look at this and figure out what you tweet about and whether to follow you.
Specific marketing tips and insights on the product, general marketing advice on the blog. Managed by @Unmana and @NileshBhojani.
Done? That’s it for today.
It’s bad news.
The day many SEO professionals hoped would never come, but feared eventually would, apparently has arrived today. It appears that Google has cut off keyword data altogether.
Nearly two years after making one of the biggest changes to secure search that resulted in a steady rise in “(not provided)” data, Google has switched all searches over to encrypted searches using HTTPS. This means no more keyword data will be passed to site owners.
What does this mean? Search Engine Land explains:
When searches are encrypted, search terms that are normally passed along to publishers after someone clicks on their links at Google get withheld. In Google Analytics, the actual term is replaced with a “Not Provided” notation.
Why does this matter? Search terms are a great measure of user intent, and we won’t have that anymore. We’ll still see how many visits we’re getting through Google search, but not what those visitors were searching for. So it’s going to be difficult, to put it mildly, to optimize your pages for search if you don’t know what terms you’re ranking for. We’ll all be left shooting in the dark.
So what do we do? Ruud Hein explains five ways to get around this, including keyword data from other search engines and using Google Webmaster Tools.
Edited to add this excellent post that went up after I published this: Neil Patel explains how this move by Google might actually make you a better marketer. He also provides some great tips for managing the change.
Ultimately, none of these other tools will make up for the visibility we’re losing with this change, but we’ve got to work with what we have. The silver lining I see is maybe we’ll stop obsessing over keyword rankings and search results and algorithm changes and focus instead on delivering the best content for our audience.
We have put together our most useful Twitter tips in The Beginner’s Guide to Using Twitter for Business. This includes:
- Important Twitter features you should know
- Who you should follow
- Tools and tips to easily find relevant people on Twitter
- How to use Twitter for business in 15 minutes a day: a step-by-step guide that tells you how to get started and keep going, in just 15 minutes every day
- Twitter mistakes you should avoid
- Tools and apps you can use to get more out of Twitter
Get all of this for free!
Let’s talk about productivity! Raise your hand if you think you work at a terrific pace and rarely waste time being unproductive or procrastinating. What, no one? I’m shocked.
Check out Nilesh’s post about seven free tools he’s used that might help you improve your productivity.
It’s easy to see which of us is more tech-savvy. My recent post about productivity on the Spin Sucks blog described how I use my favorite productivity tool: paper.
That’s right: I have ten notebooks, each with a designated use. Don’t believe me? Check out the post: I have details and a picture.
This is a really interesting list of apps and plug-ins you can use to counter procrastination. I’ve started using Strict Workflow myself to keep me on track.
I also use Rescue Time to check up on my productivity (since Bhaskar recommended it), and of course, email (I write myself notes on things I need to remember) and Google Calendar. I have also found Streak useful to keep track of emails I need to follow up on. I’ve used Remember the Milk and Trello as well, but with less success.
And if you’re feeling stressed out about your productivity levels, Amber Naslund’s post might help you gain perspective.
There is no magic system. Stop looking for it.
So let’s get to work now, you and me both.
A colleague asked me last week about advice for promotional products companies on blogging. Let’s look at how promotional products businesses use their blogs.
A Google search on [promotional products blog] gets us this. Good job, Inkhead! Especially as two of the other top search results are from ASI (a promo products industry association whose page with links to industry blogs shows up) and an industry magazine.
I do another quick search for recently updated blogs and we’re good to go.
If you have spent much time on the internet lately, especially on social media, you’re aware that the noise is increasing. It’s more and more difficult to find relevant messages because of all the content that is created. (And I know, we’re part of the problem.)
Rich Becker muses over where automation will take social media:
The platform shift from conversation to broadcast is a symptom of what marketers measure.
They measure actions (tweets, retweets, link clicks), which discourages dialogue. It discourages it because conversations are not valued on the action scale. It discourages it because the more organic conversations take place, the more marketers have to drown them out with frequency. And it discourages it because scalable actions require automation, which means the marketer isn’t participating.
Facebook Insights offers a wealth of data about your Facebook page. How do you use that information to improve your marketing on Facebook? One way to do this is by scheduling posts for the most effective times.
Scheduling Your Posts for When Your Fans Are Online
The Posts tab on your Facebook Insights has a section called When Your Fans Are Online. This tells you how many of your fans are on Facebook on each day of the week and different times of the day. Use this to time your posts for when most of your fans are active.
Brian Dean, as he says himself, is “living the dream”: his SEO expertise enables him to “work as a digital nomad and travel in countries like Thailand, Japan, Spain, and Turkey” (and currently, Germany). He is also a popular blogger: his SEO blog, Backlinko, has fantastic resources and advice about SEO.
We ask him about how he got to where he is, and get him to share tips about SEO and blogging.
My questions and comments are italicized.
1. Your profile is intriguing: tell us how you got here. You make the shift from freelance writer to SEO sound so easy: was it actually as easy as that?
Failure’s been on my mind lately. It started a while back, with this startup founder writing about the inevitable end of the business.
And of course, last week I wrote about another startup failure, inspired by the TechCrunch article reporting it.
So today I share some more stories of failure with you, hoping we can avoid their mistakes and their fate. The next three links are from this Business Insider article.
This entrepreneur started his business of selling condom key chains: he failed, but it’s a great story.
This blog post has some interesting insights, including this:
I don’t usually follow startup stories, but I was intrigued by this one. With so much going for them – an interesting idea, interest from partners, interest from users, some PR, even some funding – they still had to fold.
And then I read Flowtab’s own account of how it went down. I am hardly qualified to criticize (but of course, I’m going to do so anyway), but some things leaped out at me. And these aren’t particular to this company (I don’t mean to pile on), but attitudes and activities I have seen in other startups as well.
Careless erosion of goodwill
Goodwill isn’t a trendy buzzword, but let’s talk about it anyway. Here are some of the tactics this company tried out.
Flowtab was an app that let you order drinks at bars. The founders spent months building the app, launched it on iTunes, and it was the #1 featured app for one week. But there was no service to back up the app. There’s no mention of how many people downloaded the app, but it must have been a good number. Many startups would be thrilled at having their app featured by Apple. But this one squandered their opportunity by letting users download an app they couldn’t use. That’s like having a big store launch, inviting customers, and then not showing up to open the store. If a thousand customers came to your door, that’s not a success. The fact that you couldn’t serve them is a failure.
One industry that I think is fertile ground for marketing content is Bed and Breakfast inns. These inns provide a more picturesque, intimate experience than bigger hotels, and as far as I know, most of them seem to be run by the owners. So it seems to make perfect sense that innkeepers would blog about their inns. But do they?
I searched for [bed and breakfast blog] on Google.
What surprised me is that most of these blogs haven’t been updated recently. If you look at this screenshot, one of these blogs was last updated in April! The blog with the most recent post (not in the screenshot) was on August 24.
I changed the search to pages updated in the last week, and got a wholly different set of results. Even so, one blog listed in the first page was updated 2 days ago; everything else was between 5-7 days.
The Blue Door on Baltimore, for example, has a charming blog with photos and behind-the-scenes info about the running of the inn, as well as tips on what to do in Baltimore. But the blog hasn’t been updated for over a year: there were three posts in the first week of June 2012, and nothing since. Is the inn still running?