Best Reasons to Take a Break from Your Business

While most of us know intellectually that it’s a good idea to take a break and go on vacation, with the pandemic, it’s been more difficult than at other times. But getting away is critical for our mental health, and to prevent burnout. Here are my reasons for taking a break.

Get a fresh look at old ideas

Do you find yourself going through the motions sometimes, like I do? Sometimes I find myself doing things just because that’s why they’ve been done before. Like somehow that habit became set in stone. It’s so useful to ask why things are done a certain way. For instance, why publish blog posts on a certain day, or why make them a certain length, or why write them at all? Are you stuck for ideas about blogging? Then you might want to try these: How to Quickly and Easily Unleash Your Blogging Creativity.

Totes ma goats

Take some photos you can use on your own accounts

Do you find yourself with a lack of creativity? Recharging the battery seems to always recharge the well of creativity, too. When you get outside there’s the fresh air, the open road, and the mini-golf! If you’re looking for some wonderful photos, my good friend Beth Staub at Adventure Photo Studios takes photos and also sells them. I love her nature photos, in particular.

Irises

Meet up with friends

One of my favorite ways to spend days off is talking with friends. They always give me a fresh perspective, and make me laugh. And of course laughing is a major way to prevent stress from building up. For me, it’s been about a year since getting any time off–which is way too long! So even though we didn’t go anywhere exotic (hello Humboldt County!), it seemed far away. By the way, you might like this article about friend sourcing. Friend Sourcing: the New Way to Content Creation?

Humboldt

Talk about something else other than your business

When I’m at work, I tend to meet people in similar businesses. But while traveling, there are so many other people in different professions. Sometimes that hyperfocus on business isn’t a good thing. We spoke with people of all ages, with different jobs, who lived in different places. Our friends at home are more like us, so we don’t get that infusion of new ideas.

Spend time playing for good ideas

Playing isn’t just for kids. It might be even more important for adults! While away, we played mini-golf, something I hadn’t done in years. It was one of the silliest courses (and some of us may have cheated just a little), but it was so much fun! Read this Forbes article about The Importance of Play.

 

Five Secrets to Social Media Success: Greatness in 15 Minutes a Day

So here’s the deal. Here are five actionable things you can do this week to improve your social media and become more successful. Some of these are things not to do, and those might be even easier for you. Read one each day for five days and you’ll improve. Really.

Day One: Share Every Day

Can you do this? You don’t have to create all your own content, but you need to be on your accounts. As friend Robert Nissenbaum discusses, getting results and engaging on social media are intertwined: If you want results, think about how you post and share content. Engagement and how you share makes a difference. You can schedule, but it’s even better to be live on social media. You might even come into contact with someone else who’s actually there, too.

Day Two: Don’t Tag Everyone in the World

Yes, we’re all connected to quite a few people on our social media accounts. But you don’t have to tag everyone. And if you are tagged, you don’t have to then reply to everyone! It’s quite simple to simply reply to the person who tagged you and to no one else (unless there’s a reason to, but usually there isn’t one). If you reply to everyone, chances are you’ll get muted or–worse–unfollowed. So don’t do that!

Day Three: Engage, Engage, Engage

Engagement is probably the most important thing you can do on social media. Talk to other people. Be social. If you don’t know how, here’s a book you might like (on Amazon): 21 Ways to Total Social Media Engagement That Will Make You Look Like a Pro. Why should you care about engagement, you might ask. Well, the internet is a crowded place and getting more crowded every day. So with engagement, you and your brand can stand out.

Day Four: Create Lists

Yes, those things everyone complains about. Make some of them. They can be private if you are afraid people will judge you for putting you on their lists. Here’s the skinny on why lists are so important: Twitter Lists for the Power User. By the way, I don’t get why people complain about lists. Do you?

Day Five: Create a Professional Bio and Headshot

If you don’t know what your bio should say, ask some friends. For a good headshot, hire a pro. Your bio is the first thing people read about you, and your headshot says a lot in a visual way. Your bio is a snapshot of you and your life at this moment in time. It can be changed! So don’t worry too much if it’s not perfect.

 

 

Had Enough of the Surge in Boundaries Blurring Between Social Media Platforms?

One thing I’ve noticed happening a lot lately on social media platforms is that the boundaries are blurring between the different platforms. Just like with movies, people are copying each other and there is less distinction in the platforms. When will the blurring ever stop? Wired had a good article about this phenomenon: All the Social Media Giants Are Becoming the Same. Have you noticed this, too?

Everything starts to look the same

How can you even tell where you are on the interwebs any more? When one thing looks like the next looks like the next, is there any reason to switch from Insta to Twitter to Facebook? For example, now there are Facebook stories, just like there are Instagram stories. They were on Insta first, then Facebook had to copy them. And before that, they were on Snapchat. And of course now that Clubhouse has really taken off, Facebook is reportedly working on something similar.

Why is this happening?

Is there really so little creativity that everyone has to copy everyone else? Is this because there’s a lack of boundaries in our personal relationships? Does someone need to step in and say no? Or is it simply because Facebook saw Instagram’s saw Snapchat’s success and wanted to keep people on their platform longer? I vote for that one. Everyone wants to be a one-shop stop. So if you can shop, upload photos, and catch up with friends on Facebook, why would you have to go somewhere else? You wouldn’t! By the way, you might like this article about how to unleash your blogging creativity.

The death of creativity?

So in another instance of copying, Instagram reels copied TikTok. And all of the social media platforms now are pushing hashtags as well as more video. There are some rules, but those are changing all the time, too. Videos can be up to sixty seconds long on Insta and TikTok, but up to sixty minutes long on Facebook. Of course, on YouTube, video length is a whole different story. There’s a 15-minute limit, but you can get around it, luckily for us wanting to know how to fix our plumbing or knit sweaters.

It’s one big blobby casserole

Remember those blobby casseroles where there’d be some kind of meat mixed with an onion soup packet topped with corn flakes? You couldn’t even really tell what kind of meat it was. It was like being in a school cafeteria on a bad day, when the chef was hungover and didn’t feel up to making something original. That’s what happens when there are no differences (or very little difference) between social media platforms. If you like those kind of casseroles in real life, then maybe you’d like this post on Epicurious! 73 Easy Casserole Recipes That We Keep Coming Back To. At least once you’re done cooking, you get something delicious! Ok. End of rant.

 

Social Media: Five Worst Practices That Can Hurt Your Brand

We all know some things that are super annoying on social media, but are they really worst practices? What’s true and what isn’t? Read on to find out!

Tagging Everyone

Have you been tagged by people who don’t know you so they can sell you something? If you have, maybe you or your brand have been getting unfollowed or — worse — blocked. If you are tagged and then do a “reply all” and reply to everyone, you may risk spamming those who don’t care about the topic. You may also be muted and not even realize it! Social Media Examiner has a swell article about tagging and mentioning on Instagram. I also really like this article by Lisa Larter on Tagging Etiquette: “If you don’t use this etiquette the right way, instead of landing leads and garnering the positive attention you’re seeking, you’ll wind up turning people completely off of you and your content.”

Treating All Platforms Like They’re the Same

Posting the same thing across all social media platforms? Although the languages overlap in some cases, there are still differences between them. For instance, using too many hashtags on Facebook can be the mark of a newbie. Often, people use hashtags that don’t even make sense. Do they think all those hashtags make them look cool? I have no idea. I wrote about this around 100 years ago: Different Platform, Different Language. Then again, sometimes platforms change the rules. For instance, Pinterest which never encouraged hashtags, now does encourage them. It’s worthwhile to do a quick Google search to see what’s happening before using hashtags (or any other practice).

Filling Your Posts with TLAs

Unless your audience is very narrow, and you know them all, then over use of three-letter acronyms can really turn off an audience. It’s a good idea to explain acronyms the first time they’re used, at the very least. I see this a lot in scientific posts. Think about your audience, and whether any of them are newbies. If they are, then consider explaining your acronyms. You may also have followers who aren’t newbies, but are new to your particular field. Explaining your acronyms is never a bad idea.

Being Unsocial

If you’re broadcasting and you/your brand is not a broadcast medium (radio, t.v., etc.), then what is the point of social media? Respond to people, thank them, and mention others often. Share articles that your primary audience might find interesting. And support your friends. If you can’t afford to buy their product or service, you can share what they have to offer, or make connections for them. Speaking of friends, you might like this article on Friend Sourcing.

Posting Unsavory Things

Politics, sexual content, or badmouthing others can lead to being unfollowed. It’s better to focus on the things you might have in common with others. Small talk isn’t such a bad thing on social media. If you’re posting for a political account, that might be an exception. Otherwise, decide what you want to avoid on social media.

The Multitasking Myth: What it Means, Why it Hurts, How to Stop

We’re all busy. We wake up thinking about work, spend most of our waking hours working (if we’re entrepreneurs), and sometimes even dream about work. So of course we multitask sometimes. It can’t be helped, can it? And yet, many experts agree that multitasking is actually an impossibility. We don’t really multitask–we simply switch between tasks very quickly.

What is the multitasking myth?

Wikipedia defines human multitasking (as opposed to computers multitasking, I believe) as “the ability to perform more than one task or activity at the same time, such as speaking on the phone while driving a car.” There have been many articles written about the myth of multitasking, including articles by Inc. magazine, Psychology Today, and NPR. There has even been a TED Talk on the subject. Turns out, we’ve been fooling ourselves all along, thinking we’re doing more, when actually we’re doing less. But when that tricky ego gets involved, we feel more self-satisfied, although we’re doing less. By the way, you might like How to Face and Overcome One-More-Thing-itis. After all, One-More-Thing-itis is related to multitasking!


Why does it hurt us?

Splitting our attention between two or more tasks actually makes us less efficient. That going back and forth saps our energy and leaves us with less than if we’d simply focused on one task. Multitasking wastes our time, energy, and plays tricks on our minds. Our productivity goes down, not up, as we multitask more. In an article from Entrepreneur magazine, Suddan SS discusses the three reasons why multitasking is more unproductive than you think. It increases stress, weakens your memory, and kills your creativity. Speaking of creativity, have you read: How to Quickly and Easily Unleash Your Blogging Creativity?

How do we stop?

As Nike didn’t ever say “Just don’t do it!” Maybe simply knowing that multitasking hurts is the first step, like admitting there’s a problem is the first step in many addiction programs. One thing that helps me is to have white noise or quiet noise on when working. It tricks your brain into getting on track. Another way to stop multitasking is to say no. Say it a lot. As somebody said No is a complete sentence. I like that one. Another way is to turn off all your notifications on your phone. All that beeping simply distracts from the work at hand. And nobody is so busy that they can’t focus on one thing at a time.

Social Media Value: Why it’s important and What to Measure

Social Media Value Why It's important and what to measure

Recently, I bought a dress from an online company. Now this was no ordinary dress. I was able to customize the sleeves, neckline, and hemline. I input each measurement into the online form, which required some standing on one foot and wrestling with a tape measure. After a wait of a few weeks, the dress arrived. And wow! It was incredible, fit like a glove, and was beautiful. Not just because of the embroidery, but the fabric was soft and sturdy. The hems were well stitched, and you could see that the overall the quality was there.

Why am I telling you this story?

Social media can be a lot like that dress. You might pay extra for a good logo, avatar, or headshot, and devote extra time writing your profile, but ultimately it’s worth it. Sometimes it’s difficult to judge the value of a social media account, but there are ways. I haven’t written about this for awhile, but I believe it’s good to review what makes for good social media value. In fact, here’s an article from the Wayback Machine: Creating an Awesome Twitter Avatar. Can you believe it’s from 2012?

Your social media banner should be eye catching

If you have a banner, it should have good balance. It should catch the eye and leave a good first impression. It should definitely be in focus and easily identifiable. By the way, here are some beautiful Twitter banners from Canva. Looking at other social media headers can give you an idea of what you’d like yours to look like. And one pro tip? Make your avatar and banners easy to identify across all your social media accounts. That way, when people travel from Facebook to Instagram to Twitter, they can easily identify you and your brand.

A well-written profile creates good visibility

Does your profile say something about you, what you do, and what’s important to you? And do you change it up occasionally? Or do the things that you’ve said stay the same year after year? Sometimes they do stay the same. Brands may keep the same messaging, but change their logos, for instance. On a personal profile, it’s good to review your profile every year or so. New Year is a good time to do that. Neil Patel has an excellent article about the 10 elements of a successful social media profile.

High-quality posts determine your survivability

Sharing from other pages or accounts is a good way to create engagement. When you share, other people are more prone to share your posts, too. And don’t forget that commenting is a good way to create engagement. People will follow you and share your posts and your account will survive if you post and share. How do you measure it? I like a ratio of 80:20 of shared posts versus original content. It’s pretty simple, but it works.

Measure What Works

Don’t forget to measure what’s working for you. Among some of the things you might like to measure? Although follower count is a vanity metric to some extent, I think it’s important to have a few followers. You don’t want to be talking to yourself, after all.

Different Platform, Different Analytics

Facebook has its own set of analytics, as does Twitter. For Instagram and Pinterest, you need business accounts to see your analytics. Although engagement can be difficult to measure correctly, look at your best posts and see what’s working. Impressions is a measure that some really like. I like checking about once a month, although some like to check more often. Reach is another measure that you might like to check. I won’t go into a lot of details here, but you can use a spreadsheet to track these.

I Absolutely Love Social Media. And This Is Why

I Absolutely Love Social Media. And This Is Why

Being a Hater is Easy

While it might be a lot easier to discuss all the reasons I despise social media, many people have already covered that ground. Being a hater is easy. Defending social media is not so easy. We have more and more choices as far as where we land on social media, which platforms we use, and which part of our audience we follow and where.

Find Your Friends

With the pandemic, making new friends hasn’t been easy. But with social media, you can not only make new friends, you can reconnect with those you haven’t seen recently, and deepen your already-existing relationships. Although I dislike the word tribe, it’s very nice to have a circle of friends who talk to you when you’re online. And searching for old friends is easier than ever using Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Here’s a WikiHow you might like: How to Find Old Friends Online. You can also do searches for professional friends on LinkedIn or military friends using military records. Speaking of friends, you might like this article: Friend Sourcing: the New Way to Content Creation?

Share Common Experiences

Not only can you share photos, but it’s fairly easy to discover platforms now where you can share your experiences. Whether you’re concerned about disabilities, special hobbies, or A/I, you’re sure to find a Facebook group for your specific interests. Not only that, but there will be someone nerdier than you who’s been involved in your interest for years or decades! For instance, two of my interests are knitting (a new hobby) and Pan American Airlines (because my father was an employee for many years). These groups and many more are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as other places online. Also: following and searching on the hashtags of your interests is also easy-peasy. If you want to know more about hashtags, try this: How to Discover a Wealth of Friends with Social Media Hashtags.

Share Your Personal Background

There’s a wonderful Hafu page on Facebook that I just love. This page is for people who are half Japanese (like I am). I enjoy seeing people share their victories or recently, share their issues because of discrimination. And there’s always a good recipe or two for tonkatsu! There are groups for social media managers, differing age groups, bird watchers, and just about anything you can think of.

Delve Into Topics…or Just Absorb the Good Vibes

If you’re unsure whether you want to post within your newly-found group, you can lurk in the background for a while. This way, you can check out what others are saying as well as how many posts go out daily. There’s no need to jump into any conversation right away until you’re comfortable. Just scroll to your heart’s content.

 

Friend Sourcing: the New Way to Content Creation?

the New Way to Content Creation?

Friend sourcing. I just made it up, so you’re not missing out on something new. Yet. It’s like crowdsourcing, but among people you already know, even if you’ve only met them online. After all, don’t we all have more and more friends online? Especially during this past year, when the pandemic influenced how many people we could socialize with.

Here’s How it Works

Ask your friends what they think of a topic, then take what they say and create content with that. It’s like when you attend #DigiBlogChat and then create a blog post about it, like Jim Katzaman (@JKatzaman) often does. You’ll get more eyes on your piece because people love to hear about themselves. It’s easy, fun, and clever!

Don’t Believe Me?

If you need to see how friend sourcing works, take a look around the interwebs. Check out who’s retweeting whom, who’s sharing whose pictures, and which posts get shared the most. Friend sourcing posts may not always be the most popular (animal posts are very popular, too), but they do get shared. A lot.

Friend Sourcing Is Social

Remember when social media was actually social? No, neither do I. But these days, you really need to be social more than ever. Engagement counts for a lot, and I predict it’ll count for even more in the future. Need to know more about engagement? Check out For Better Social Media Results, Focus on Engagement.

Get Started

Attend a chat (#DigiBlogChat is a pretty good one!) or start a conversation on social media. Ask a question or create a poll. Collect ideas from your friends. Ask if they’d like to be included in your piece if you want. Or tell them later. Or apologize later. Your choice! There are no wrong answers here.

Collaborations Are Gold

Collaborate with someone to create something, write something, or do something together. You could be in a challenge together, too, like the 46-mile Mt. Fujii Virtual Conqueror Challenge that @MistressPrime and I were in together. We both walked the miles, checked in, and got our (real metal!) medals. But the walk was all done virtually, so anyone can participate.

Write or Vlog About it!

Now create your piece! You could write a blog post, talk about it on your YouTube channel, make an art piece to share later, etc. You might want to take pictures of whatever it is you did, said, or created together. Make sure you tag your friends when you do share the piece. People usually love being mentioned!

Share and Share Again

If your piece is evergreen (for more information about evergreen posts, see: How Long Is Evergreen Content Actually Good for?) then share it more than once! After all, you’ve put in the work, right?

 

 

Why Gamification in Sales is Dangerous and Why You Should Care

Why Gamification in Sales is Dangerous and Why You Should Care

Recently, I’ve been seeing more and more sales gimmicks. Sites where I’d normally shop anyway are now regaling me with Spin the Wheel! and Mystery Discounts, along with cute fuzzy animals. I might have shopped there anyway, but does the focus on games make me trust them more? No! Quite the opposite.

Does There Always Need to Be a Game?

Why does shopping have to be made more fun? Haven’t we been told to plan ahead, make a list, shop online, get in and get out as quickly as possible when shopping in person, shop around the edges for the best dietary choices, etc.? Do we have to go on a Treasure Hunt and make our online shopping trip more amusing? You’ll probably guess what my answer is to these questions. By the way, you might like this article about the Gamification of Social Media.

Budgets and the National Debt

Ok, maybe I’m ranting now, but as Americans don’t we already have a problem with overspending? According to CNBC, “The average American has $90,460 in debt. Meanwhile, millennials have seen the largest increase in debt in the last five years.” So gamification probably makes the debt problem even worse. Maybe there’s some sort of moral obligation to make sales as boring as possible to help bring down the national debt! Yes, people want to sell more, but how about a little mercy for everyone during these panicky, pandemicky times?

Just Say No

Maybe our collectively ginormous credit issue stems in part from our difficulty in saying no. Setting boundaries is hard work and depends upon knowing what we want and don’t want. And what about that darn pandemic? Gosh, maybe if we spent less to begin with we wouldn’t even need as much darn money from the government in the form of stimulus checks. Maybe we could even–gasp!–spend within our means! Not to say that some need the stimulus checks–they do. It’s just that right now we need to be budgeting our money so it stretches farther, not looking for excuses to spend more money. And certainly not making a fun game out of overspending. Oh, and get off my lawn, you darn kids!!! By the way, I talk about boundaries in Best Time Management Hacks for Your Online Life.

Scams and Rabbit Holes

Maybe people are more sophisticated than I give them credit for. Somehow, I don’t think so. Tons of my friends fall for scams. When people with unknown numbers call, they often pick up and talk to the callers. And give away their bank account information. So this emphasis on games doesn’t bode well for many. At the very least, it’s a waste of time heading down that rabbit hole of online shopping and games. I know we’re all bored. But why make it easier for someone else to get into debt? Leave me a comment if you feel like it, but only if you aren’t procrastinating on doing your budget.

You Don’t Need Fairy Dust to Improve Your Social Media Engagement

Some people seem to think that there’s some kind of magic involved in improving your engagement on social media. There’s no magic involved, but you can use some science. Don’t worry–it’s nothing that costs a bundle. But having some science and just talking to people will help a lot.

The Science behind Tweepsmap

This week on #DigiBlogChat, a chat on Twitter, our special guests were Samir Al-Brattan of @Connexinet and Tweepsmap and Jayna (@JTweepsmap). We discussed how to increase engagement. Here are a few ideas from that chat. By the way, Tweepsmap has a terrific YouTube channel, if you prefer to listen to tips. Don’t forget to subscribe! 

Hashtags and Topics

If you want to supercharge your time on Twitter, you can find out which hashtags and topics will get you the most oomph. Yes, oomph isn’t exactly a scientific word, but you know what I mean. This is not to say that you’re going to be broadcasting. You’ll still be interacting, but in a smart way. If you’re already tweeting about one of the topics mentioned in your Tweepsmap, why not add a hashtag to your post? Did you know there’s a the hashtag suggestions tool embedded into the Tweepsmap scheduler? Not too many hashtags, though! Just one or two.

How Do I Talk to People?

Start by saying hello. Do you know how to make small talk? If you still go to the grocery store, or walk your dog past your neighbor’s house, you’ve been forced to say hello before. Then ask about them. How are they doing? You can also retweet with a quote. Simply click on the retweet and then you’ll get the quote retweet choice. That way, you can add a remark to the original tweet.

©Przemek Pietrak2013

Don’t Just Broadcast

Gone are the days when you could post an out-of-focus picture of a lemon and get a thousand comments. Comment on what other people are doing and saying. People love to hear about themselves. Some people may even say something back to you. You can use some of the suggested topics and hashtags within Tweepsmap if you get stuck for ideas, too.

©GotCredit2015

Add Value

Sometimes value includes encouragement. You can also post educational material, humorous things, or resourceful ideas. As Melissa Drozdowski, director of social media at marketing and brand-builder company Interprose mentioned during the latest #Digiblogchat “Repeat after us: it’s all about adding value. People engage for a reason. You have to provide something of value for their time – a new perspective, something followers can learn from, a resource they didn’t have before. Add value and they will come (and stay).”

©Adam Bautz2015

Don’t Get Discouraged

If someone doesn’t want to have a conversation, move on. There are plenty of people who will want to talk to you.

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