Content Curation: 5 Killer Reasons It’s Your New BFF

Content Curation: 5 Killer Reasons It's Your New BFF

Content Curation: 5 Killer Reasons It’s Your New BFF

“Find good stuff and share it” is the way content curation works. Whether you as a curator are on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Pinterest, people want to see the best articles chosen for them. Very few people have hundreds of hours to scour the web looking for the gold nuggets. But why is content curation your BFF, you may wonder?

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Fewer Brain Explosions!

Your brain can pay attention to maybe four things at once. A friend of mine recently said that if you’re driving you can pay attention to what’s in front of you, in back of you, and to either side. If one more item is added, say texting, then it’s overload. Information overload works the same way. Content curation helps your audience because you filter the good stuff for them, and then hand it to them on a pretty plate. Here’s how to handle information overload (TIP: Skip to the list!).

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Builds Trust

People will come to rely on your content, so ensure that you stay on target and be true to what you’ll share. So if your social media profile says you are a restaurant, people would probably expect to see fabulous images of food. Probably. And maybe content from parallel industries as well, such as pubs and wineries. Of course, you can also create your own content. Here’s an article on Content Creation: Like Hosting Out-of-Town Guests, that you might like.

Creates Community

Posting about a particular subject draws in like-minded people. How often have you yourself, as a content curator, been impressed or tickled by a content on someone else’s post? Content curation, done the right way, gives you that sense of community that we’re sometimes lacking.

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Opens the Imagination

The best Facebook page or Pinterest board unlocks your imagination. Sometimes you get a lot more than you expected, when you go to a beautifully curated account. Sometimes you think “I could make that outdoor sofa set from old pallets” or “that Grand Marnier Soufflé looks entirely do-able!” Here’s a post about Pinterest Influencers: Curating Pins that you might like.

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Positions You As a Thought Leader

If you have original ideas, then curating content can make you a leader. People will come to you first when they want an answer about your area of expertise. When you add context to a news article, for example, you reframe an already-existing viewpoint. And who doesn’t want to be a thought leader?

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Secret Sixth Reason

Here’s the reason many of you curate content: It’s your passion. And you want engaged followers. Don’t you?

Finding Your Next Social Media Manager

Finding Your Next Social Media Manager

Finding Your Next Social Media Manager

Wikipedia is not going to help you much with finding your next Social Media Manager (“SMM”). In fact, Wikipedia can’t tell you anything about how to choose an SMM. Google can help to some extent, if you get your search terms correct, and focus on a good headline. (By the way, if you’d like to know about writing headlines, those can be a pain in the asterisk!) So what can help you? Here are some ideas.

1. Don’t look under a rock. Hint: Those are worms!

If you want to find a good SMM, you might want to look around on social media. Check on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or wherever you’d like to be posting. See if the person you’d like to hire is posting there, too. Their posts don’t have to be perfect (because, after all, they’re busy with clients), but they should have some posts of substance.

2. Check out their websites and social platforms.

Most SMMs have a website, although I know some fab ones who don’t. Check out their testimonials and what other people are saying about them. If you can’t find anything, you could ask for testimonials directly. See whether their website has been updated in, say, the last two months. It should be active. And of course, check out their social platforms.

Check out websites and social platforms

Check out websites and social platforms

3. Read their blog.

Does your SMM have a blog and do they post about social media? That would be a good thing, especially if you need help with blogging. Is their writing clear? Do you like their style? If they’re writing about Twitter, for instance, do they include particulars that you like?

When you read a SMM's blog, do you like the particulars?

When you read a SMM’s blog, do you like the particulars?

4. Look at their writing skills.

These days, many SMMs have degrees in writing or related fields. If you want your SMM to do a bit of writing for you, a degree in English could be beneficial. Or perhaps experience writing. Some SMMs, myself included, have a background in technical writing. If you have a particular grammatical mistake that bugs you, such as the abuse of commas, check their work for that. Here’s a list of 10 Common Grammar Mistakes (“lose” and “loose” are often confused).

5. Ensure that they embrace “social.”

Broadcasting your message over and over (and over!) is old-school marketing. Make sure that your SMM enjoys interacting with others. Saying hello, while it sounds simple, usually causes others to say “hello” back! Engaging with others on social media is the fastest way to an engaged and engaging account on any platform.

Ensure that you SMM embraces "social."

Ensure that your SMM embraces “social.”

6. Ask them some questions.

For instance, ask about their least favorite platform. That should help you get some idea of what their favorite platform is and isn’t. Also, ask which subjects to avoid. There are many more questions you can ask.

Ask about their least favorite platform

Ask about their least favorite platform

7. Your SMM should be excited at your success!

When you make sales, or when your posts are shared with lots of people, your SMM should be happy for you! They should have in mind a vision for you and for your success. After all, it’s in both your interests that you should succeed.

Finding a good social media manager shouldn’t be this hard, right?

With overpriced agencies and undervalued CMOs, it’s a serious challenge to find that juggernaut to pave the way for your future marketing strategy. Do you have a successful story where your SMM has developed your online presence into what you wanted? We would truly like to hear about your experience(s).

Secrets to Great Content You Forgot You Knew

 

Secrets to Great Content You Forgot You Knew

Secrets to Great Content You Forgot You Knew

Maybe you’ve been toying with the idea of starting a blog. You’re getting ready to get started thinking about it. That is, right after you finish that new business plan for next year. And waxing the car. And don’t you also need to balance your checkbook again?

The secret to great content is to begin creating it. Maybe your writing isn’t perfect. Whose is? If you never start writing, you’ll never know. And great, original content on your blog helps your SEO with Google. Here are a few ideas that helped me get started with blogging.

Don’t procrastinate.

“Procrastination, quite frankly, is an epidemic,” declares Jeffery Combs, the author of “The Procrastination Cure,” says in an article “How to Stop Time,” via the New York Times. Don’t add to that epidemic.

An unfinished blog post

An unfinished blog post

Glue the seat of your pants to the seat of the chair.

Sit and start writing the first thing that pops into your head, and do that for 15 minutes. Can you do that? Sure you can! Now, you’ll probably go back and delete 90% of it, but there will be the glimmer of a good idea in there.

Write every day

Write every day

Write every day.

Write whether you feel like writing or not. Often you will not. That monkey brain of yours will want to do other things. Pinning banana recipes on Pinterest comes to mind. You will procrastinate on this important job. So get it over with. Once you get past that first 15 minutes, the rest will get easier. Jeff Goins, in his article “Why You Need To Write Every Day,” says: “If you want to get this writing thing down, you need to start writing every day.”

Talk, then write.

Speak your ideas, then write them down. Or have them written down by someone else. Or use Dragon Naturally. Whatever. Just get the words down. You can change them later. Because everyone can talk.

Don’t expect perfection.

Perfection will never happen. Just make sure to get something in writing. You can come back and insert some long, impressive-sounding words later.

Let it simmer

Let it simmer

Let it simmer.

Here’s the fun part. Go away. Get in your car and drive around. Go for a walk. Come back and everything will look different. When you return from your sojourn you can wear a different hat and edit your words.

Create five topics in your blog.

Today’s topic was one that I began months ago. It languished in my blog, along with some other unfinished work. But one day, you may not know what to write about. You’ll go to your website, and that half-written piece will start to take shape. By the way, here’s a post with some tips for blogging for startups.

Don't wait to get going

Don’t wait to get going

Don’t wait to get going.

It’s going to be work, but once you ‘re done, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. Your competition is already done. Don’t get left in the dust. And when you’re done, make sure to promote that blog, too.

Five Hidden Benefits of Listening

Five Hidden Benefits of Listening

Five Hidden Benefits of Listening

Coming up with content 24×7 gets old really fast. But what if there were some other way than blasting out your own content all day long? Something easier, some way you could get your stream filled with content without being in complete broadcast mode all the time. What if you could stop being like a one-way valve and have a two-way valve instead as part of your social media strategy? Crazy, right?

Intensify Conversations

What if you went to a party and talked about yourself the entire time? That would be pretty boring! And yet, some people still talk non-stop at parties. But if you listened twice as much as you talked, you might learn some things about your new and old friends. The same concept applies online. As  David Tovey says, hearing is not listening.

Take the Strain Off Yourself

Although listening might sound more difficult than talking, all it requires is that you be fully present. That is, ready to listen and free of distracting thoughts. That may seem a little “zen” to you–like a meditation. And listening can also involve watching the other person’s posture, mannerisms, and all the different tones in their voice. So instead of hearing your own inner thoughts, for a few minutes you can focus completely on someone else. Think of it as a mini-vacation, a way to balance your online life.

Listen Without Expectation

When I searched online for “listening,” there was an image of a shower head on the site–someone out there has been listening to my online searches. They wanted to sell me something. However, that’s different than not having any expectation than to hear. And it’s tricky to not be waiting with something to say, but to listen with no advice, no retort, and no pushing your own agenda!

Be Unique

Everyone (on social media or not), is spewing information. We are up to our ears in information. And if you believe, as Julian Treasure outlines in his excellent TED Talk 5 Ways to Listen Better, that we are “losing our listening,” then it’s extremely important to work on this vanishing skill. Rather than reducing your friends’ thoughts and words to sound bites, listening fully lets them express the subtlety of their experiences–and lets you shine by being unique.

Start participating by listening

Start participating by listening

Save Time

What if you knew what your clients were thinking about? Or what your friends were focused on? You can! Just ask them. It’s that simple. Be creative in how you reach out. Try asking in a simple, yet direct way. “What’s the haps? Or “what’s new, Daddy-O?” are sure to elicit a smile. Rather than worrying about what they might be thinking, ask and then listen.

Be a Great Conversationalist

Here is my call to action for this post. For one day, try listening. Repost, retweet, and talk to people online. Could you do that? I’d be willing to bet that most people will say that you’re a great conversationalist! Like Ted Rubin says “Jump in & do it.”

Let me know how that goes. Although some of you are probably already there, listening.

 

 

 

Facebook Twofer: Sharing Content to Be Seen

Facebook Twofer: Sharing Content to Be Seen

Facebook Twofer: Sharing Content to Be Seen

You might have read my recent post about Facebook “stealing my cheese” a few days ago. And you might have also heard that you should be more social on social media. A post that my friend Bridget Willard created gave me this idea. Why not share posts from people similar to you once or twice a day? It’s an easy way to be social, plus you get the added benefit of posting more often and (possibly) getting better numbers on Facebook. And by the way, here’s a terrific article about how to determine what works on your Facebook posting frequency, via Social Media Examiner.

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

That’s what happens with social media. Things change. And also: there is no one size fits all. What worked last year, last month, or even last week may not be the same this week. And that’s especially true with Facebook and its changing landscape.

Form Alliances By Sharing Content

Sharing other people’s content is a super easy way to get your post seen by more people, plus it’s an excellent way to form alliances.

An Easy Idea

Facebook Twofer: Sharing Content

Facebook Twofer: Sharing Content

Just like when you’re in the grocery store and you get a twofer coupon that is doubled at the checkstand, sharing gives you two for the price of one! It’s a happy surprise. And, it’s such an easy idea, that you might not even consider it. And like me, you might be in favor of easy.

Not convinced? Here are more reasons to share content

  1. Building relationships. The main reason people share is to build relationships. They’re looking for community. If you share someone else’s content, you help build community.
  2. Creating social capital. By sharing, you build social capital. When you need something shared, people are more likely to share your content.
  3. Finding others with similar interests. By sharing something you find interesting, you let others know what’s interesting to you. People may not know of your newfound interest in vegetable gardening or roller derby. And you may discover a new friend–or rediscover an old friend.

 Try Sharing More Content

Let me know if this idea resonates with you. Try sharing more content, maybe once or twice a week, and let me know how it goes!

 

Facebook Stole My Cheese!

 

Facebook Stole My Cheese!

Facebook Stole My Cheese!

By now you’ve read multiple articles and heard countless complaints about the changes in Facebook’s algorithm. In fact, maybe by now you’re sick and tired of hearing about how Facebook lied, how they should’ve kept things the way they were, etc.  You know that you can’t get the same reach any more, and on a personal level, you can’t see the stuff your friends post, either. And you’re thinking about jumping ship, but where would you go? You’ve invested so much time into Facebook, how can you possibly leave now?

Facebook Won’t Go Away Any Time Soon

Maybe you’ve read my previous post asking if it’s time to leave Facebook. But maybe you haven’t taken the leap yet. With 1.19 billion users (see the Next Web article), Facebook is the behemoth that won’t go away. People love Facebook, and it’s a great way to share content, post embarrassing family pictures, and find videos of goats climbing in trees set to hip-hop music. Oh, wait. That’s my life.

Let’s Say You’re a Mouse…

So let’s pretend for a minute that you’re a mouse–because in a way you are a mouse. And Facebook? They have the cheese. So how do you get some of that precious cheese that keeps disappearing because there are too many mice and they’re all squealing at once for more cheese but there just isn’t as much anymore? Well, maybe this metaphor has run its course through that maze (did you see what I did there?).

How Do You Make Your Posts More Visible?

How to Get Back Some of the Cheese

How to Get Back Some of the Cheese

Here are a few ways to make your posts more visible. And get some more of that precious cheese.

Create Unique Content

Your own content, preferably in the form of blog posts, can benefit by being adorned with your own images. Bigger images are always better on Facebook. You can also use video or a simple picture, one that you took yourself.

Post More Often

Post a little more often. Most business owners don’t have time to post multiple times a day, but the posts don’t have to be big deal posts. You could ask a question, thank your new fans for following you, or pick a small quote from a blog post. Yes or no questions are often very successful. Don’t ask people to recite a poem or do an interpretive dance because it’s not gonna happen.

Post At Different Times

The analytics on your business page might say that your fans are online at noon. But probably so are everyone else’s fans, too. Why not experiment with posting at a few different times? And remember that scheduling your posts ahead of time is really easy on Facebook.

Look for Surprises

One thing I like to do is search for the surprises within my posted content. By that, I mean to scroll back through the posts and see what kind of content got shared, liked, commented on, etc. What time did you post? What day of the week? Then rinse and repeat: use the same types of posts, and the times you posted, too. How have you readjusted to the change in Facebook’s reach? Or did you quit?

 

Content Creation: Like Hosting Out-of-Town Guests

Content Creation: Like Hosting Out-of-Town Guests

Content Creation: Like Hosting Out-of-Town Guests

One of my friends on Twitter, Tracy Blevins (@TracyBlevins), put content creation this way: “It’s like hosting out-of-town guests–it never ends.” Is that how you feel about content creation? On many days, I feel that way, too. What will I talk about? Will people be interested? Also, what will you cook that they’ll like and haven’t had before? I don’t want to keep serving up grilled cheese every day, after all! Here, then, are some ideas for content creation.

Curated Versus Original Content

Probably the toughest part of my job is discovering content that not everyone in the world hasn’t already seen one billion times before. Word spreads fast on the internet. How can I possibly post something new? Putting my own spin on curated content is possible, but the best thing is to create my own content and images. For instance, recently all my friends were griping about Facebook’s new algorhythm changes, so I decided to write about that.

Search Differently

Try looking for your search terms on both Google and Bing–the results will be different. You can also search for the most recent articles. Another trick is to search for your search term from within. By that I mean that if you want to know about Twitter, search from within Twitter. For Pinterest, search from within Pinterest. You’ll be surprised at what you might find. Pinterest has beefed up its search lately, too. Facebook’s search? Eh, not so much.

Non-Human Guests

Your guests aren't always human.

Your guests aren’t always human.

Another part of creating content is that your guests aren’t always human. Sometimes your guests are the little bots that roam around Google, looking for new content. So if you’re publishing twice a week, the bots will come back like little puppies waiting to be fed on those two days.

Writing for SEO and Ranking Well

Another one of your “guests” is the person who will be searching for your keywords. For instance, if someone did a Google search on quitting Facebook, my post asking if it’s time to quit Facebook might come up. Here’s a terrific article about writing for SEO, by the way.

Ideas through Random Discovery

Sometimes you can discover a good writing topic by looking online or listening to people around you at the grocery store or hearing what your friends are griping about. Is everyone ranting about Google Plus? Well, what else is new? Is there something they’re talking about that you disagree with? Sometimes I’ve started backwards with an image and written a post that way. Here’s one that I wrote after I saw the image. I loved the image so much that I had to write a post around the image.

Creating Content on a Team

If you work on a team, having a process, even if it’s simple, is very important. Who will edit? Will you have a style guide? How many cycles of editing will you go through? Where will you find images? What will your publishing schedule be like? Whenever I’ve tried to work on a team the schedule has been the trickiest part. People at startups are busy and they have other jobs. You’ll have the most success when you’re only responsible for your own schedule.

Do You Need Help with Content Creation?

Have you tried to create your own content? What obstacles have you faced? Please leave me a comment below!

What I’ve Learned from 100 Blog Posts

What I've Learned from 100 Blog Posts

What I’ve Learned from 100 Blog Posts

If you’ve been reading my blog, first of all, let me say how much I appreciate you. I am very blessed that I’ve gotten so many comments, and learned so much from all of you, out there reading these words. Because I’d heard all kinds of horror stories about people blogging for YEARS and never getting one. Single. Comment. I’ve been lucky enough to have extremely engaged readers and comments on nearly every post.

Now that I’ve written 100 posts, here’s some stuff I’ve learned. By the way, thanks for the inspiration to Randy Clark and his What We’ve Learned From 300 Posts.

Use Beautiful Images

Images are one of the most important aspects of a blog. Some people, I’m convinced, don’t read at all, but skim the headings and look at the pretty pictures. So I make an effort to use Flickr’s Creative Commons or my own photos whenever possible. Maybe in the future, blogs won’t even have words, just images. When I began, I stuck to the formula of two photos per post, but now sometimes use more.

Mistakes Were Made

I once made the mistake of using someone’s photo and got a “takedown notice.” Since then, I make sure to check in Creative Commons by using the Advanced Search and only using those available for commercial use so that doesn’t happen again! Wow. That was embarrassing.

Secret Killer Aliens from Outer Space!

Headlines matter. A lot. And stacking the important (read: SEO-centric) words towards the beginning of the headline is important. For instance, rather than saying “Most Important Hashtags on Twitter,” say “Twitter: Important Hashtags.” And shorter is better on headlines, too, for ranking. Not that every headline has to follow a formula, but it’s something I’m more aware of now. I learned about the SEO-centric headlines from friend Pam Aungst Marketing.

WordCamp!

Going to WordCamp provides inspiration and inspiration is the juice that keeps your blogging engine fueled. So I highly recommend finding a WordCamp and attending. I’ve gone to both WordCamp Orange County and WordCamp San Francisco (the mother ship!). And each time have made numerous new friends, as well as meeting online friends like Peter Woolvett and Ruby Rusine!

My Secret Weapon

My Secret Friend

My Secret Friend

Yes, I have an editor friend. See? There she is behind that tree. She promised me I could take her picture–and she didn’t really lie. She is a real person, and she has helped me when I’ve painted myself into a grammatical corner many times. She doesn’t help me with every single post, but you can definitely tell when she does help. Because those posts make a whole lot more sense (and also contain more references to clowns)! Also: subject-verb agreement For The Win!

Syndication

My blog is syndicated on Business to Community, sometimes appears in Yahoo Small Business! and Women of Technology. That has helped with traffic and probably brought me more followers and fans.

Don’t Worry That You Won’t Have Topics

I’m convinced that writing has helped me with my listening skills. Now I’m always listening for the question that someone might have. Many posts are inspired by my followers or fans. And I’ve been surprised at how many friends I’ve made among other bloggers, too. It’s a little community.

Unexpected Results

Blogging has helped me to go to cool places in my own imagination. I very often start writing and don’t know where a post is going. Some of my favorite posts have come out of times when I really didn’t feel like writing, but forced myself. What do you get out of blogging? Do you have a secret friend who encourages you to write about clowns?

 

 

Social Media Calendar: Six Ways

Social Media Calendar: Six Ways

Social Media Calendar: Six Ways

What do you think of when you consider creating a social media calendar? Would it be a complex document, filled with charts and graphs, passed around at long meetings? A calendar is simply a tool to help you, a structure that can assist you with your overall goals (including your time management)–nothing more. You don’t even have to follow it all the time. And if you want to know why you need to create a social media content calendar, this Sprout Social article has plenty of reasons.

Keep it Simple

First, create a very high-level, daily structure. So for example, say you are a new zoo. Your schedule could go something like this: Monday: Monkeys, Tuesday: Toucans, Wednesday: Warthogs, Thursday: Tortoises, Friday: Flamingos. You can always revisit your daily calendar later and tweak it to suit yourself or your team.

Decide When to Post

Let’s use Facebook as an example. If you’ve set up a business page, you might want to post once a day to begin with (two or three times a day is fine). So, keeping with the above example, find content that matches your strategy of Monday Monkeys. What do they eat? Where do they live? You might start your search with Google and then find more specific sites to search.

Find a Model

Monkey See, Monkey Do Could Work for Your Editorial Calendar

Monkey See, Monkey Do Could Work for Your Editorial Calendar

Say your zoo is in Sydney, Australia. Find another zoo in a different part of the world to model your account after. (Maybe the San Diego Zoo?) Then find two more. Examine what the zoos are posting. What posts are getting the most traction, likes, comments? How often do they post? Adjust your schedule. “Monkey see, monkey do” could work for your social media editorial calendar.

Learn from What Doesn’t Work

You may not find another account you like, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from someone else’s failures. You can often learn more from someone’s failures than their successes. If you had to write the headlines for someone else’s Facebook posts, what would you do differently? What makes you want to comment on a post? Is there a particular writing style that you like?

Use Analytics Combined with Common Sense

Try using analytics, but also experiment with posting at different times. For instance, you may see that everyone is online at 5:30 pm, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re active then–lots of people leave their Facebook accounts open while they watch TV or eat dinner. Also, your followers may not be online on holidays.

Track Good Sources of Content

You might have your own blog, but you may also need content from other places. Could you share content from another zoo? Or is there enough going on at your zoo that you can post every day? When you find a good source, record it somewhere. I like to throw everything into a Word doc, so if I’m half-asleep looking for content, I’ll have some ideas. Images are becoming increasingly important in posts, so make sure to have a good source for images. Huffington Post has a great article on how to create engaging images.

What Else Goes Into Your Calendar?

What has helped you create your content calendar? Please leave a comment!

 

 

Twitter: Get More Followers

Twitter: Get More Followers

Twitter: Get More Followers

You’ve read about this topic a gazillion times and it’s the first thing people always ask. How do I find  people to follow? And how do I get them to follow me back? My method is not foolproof, but it’s pretty damn good (not bragging). You will get followers, and they won’t be fake followers. It is work, however. You might not like that part. Then again, it’s not rocket science!

See Who Your Friends Are Talking to

Start by looking at who your friends talk to. Look at their profiles and their top ten tweets. If you like what you see on their profile and what they’re tweeting about, chat with them. Follow them if you like the way the conversation is going.

Say Something Directly to That Person

This could be anything. “Where are you from? Your profile doesn’t say.” “I like what you said on your profile about rapscallions.” “It looks like we went to the same school.” Start with something easy, just like you would in a real-life conversation. Start there. LifeHacker has some good, simple conversation starters that work in real life or online.

Retweet Them

Find a tweet that would be important to them. This requires a little more work. Preferably find something about their business or something you think they’d like you to retweet. If they have a small following, they’ll probably notice right away. If not, you may need to retweet a few to get noticed. If their tweet is short, you may have space to add a comment. And I recommend that you use an “old-school retweet,” for many reasons.

Comment on Their Blog

A blog comment is even better than a retweet, and is much more likely to get you noticed if you’re trying to establish a relationship. Bloggers love love love comments! And most will write back to you, I’ve found. And be happy to follow you.

Follow, Retweet and Comment

Be Generous First to Gain Followers

Be Generous First to Gain Followers

This is the trifecta of engagement. If you do all three of these things, then your new friend may be oblivious or a snob. And if they don’t want to engage with you, then why are you following them? Some accounts may give you really good content, but most people aren’t Katie Couric (and need to converse with others).

Have Good Content

Think of your followers (or your potential followers) as friends. What cool and interesting stuff would you like to share with them? It doesn’t always have to be related to your business, but you’ll be more likely to attract the right crowd if it is. Don’t trick people by saying, “Hey guys, I liked this” and then a spammy link. Share things you do truly love if you want to make friends either online or in real life.

Is This Approach Too Much Work?

Let me know what works for you in the comments! Thanks!

 

 

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