Get Your Own Avatar

Have you ever left a comment on a blog only to realize your “photo” was a weird symbol or, worse yet, a picture of some random robo-thing? Ick.

You can have your social media photo follow you wherever you comment from now on by simply adding your photo at www.gravatar.com. It’s easy. You just sign up for your free account and upload your photo. Make sure you use the email address you use when you comment and voila! Your photo will pop up whenever you comment.

Small print — okay, it takes a day or two for your photo to find your comments. Be patient.

Changing Your Twitter Background

Did you know that your Twitter page can take on your branding design quite easily? Even if you’re at a loss at how to make a background image, your page can include your brand colours. Here’s how to spruce it up:

  • Go into your “Settings” at the top right-hand corner of your Twitter page
  • Choose “Design” from the blue navigation bar just under “Your Name’s settings”
  • Choose a theme from the different options. Don’t like any of these but have an image you’d like to use?
    • Scroll down and choose “Change background image”, upload your image, and click the “save changes” button at the bottom of the page
  • Want to change the colour of the background, column, links, or the text? Simply, scroll down and choose “Change design colors”, click on the appropriate box and choose a colour
    • If you know the hex colour code, type it in without the # at the front
    • If you know the RBC colour, you can find the hex code with this handy site

Be sure to click “done” once the colour is picked and “save changes” once the correct colour or image appears in the box. Otherwise, the changes will not update on your page.

Inspiration

Would you like to see some updated Twitter pages? Check these ones out:

Bluelime Media
Ballistic Arts
David Suzuki Foundation
Edible Vancouver
Pebble Road Marketing

Avoiding Social Media Overload

We’re all looking for simple ways to market our products and services and many of us have at least started down the path to social media.

It’s true that social media does not require an outlay of cash or special equipment. What is not true is the notion that social media a free medium. After all, if you added up all the time you spent writing blogs, updating your Facebook account, and searching for new contacts on LinkedIn, I’m willing to bet it would be a substantial sum. That is, if you take the time to keep them up-to-date.

That, my friends, is the catch-22 of social media — it takes time to update all your activities and not keeping them up-to-date costs reputation and will cause the gains you’ve made to slip. My advice? Choose the best social media bits for your business and keep them up-to-date.

But, how do you choose which bits are best for you?

Here are some tips:

  • Take a look at your web stats: (pleeeease tell me you have a website!) Log in to your web stats page (call your web host if you have no idea what I’m talking about) and look at where your referrals are coming from. Referrals are the sites that send visitors to your website.  If you never receive referrals from, say Facebook, then maybe that bit can be retired from your social media schedule. If, however, you receive a lot of traffic from LinkedIn, you may want to increase the amount of effort you put into the LinkedIn community.
  • Do what you enjoy: Social media is — well — social. It’s meant to be an informal place to chat, learn, and share. Others can tell when it’s not fun for you. Stiff, formal essays or efficient comments don’t communicate “I know my stuff and I’m happy to share.”; rather, they scream, “I’m just here because I need to market!” Choose the mediums you’re comfortable with and you enjoy contributing to. Love commenting on blogs but don’t like list building in LinkedIn? Well, there you go.
  • Go where you can be helpful: If you’re using social media to market, find areas where you can show your stuff. I don’t mean become the show-off of the forum, but go where you can intelligently contribute to discussions and offer advice when it’s called for.

Okay, have your short-list of social media activities ready? Now, do what ever you need to do to keep them up-to-date. Schedule in time, pre-write blogs, ask colleagues to contribute, add a Twitter function to your Blackberry. Whatever it takes…figure out how it will work best for you, your schedule, and personality, and do it. It’s easy for this stuff to slip (I know from personal experience!) but, if social media is a piece of your marketing activities, it needs to be a priority.

As always, please let me know how your social media activities are going. Did you pare down the list? Did it help?

Must-Have Technology: Google Alerts

Have you ever Googled your own name to be shocked at how many mentions there are of little old you? Ever pondered how to stay in the loop about a client, a supplier, a competitor? Ponder no more!

Google Alerts is a simple, super-easy way to watch the internet for updates on any topic, person, or company you’d like and to receive reports straight to your inbox! Use Google Alerts to:

  • Sweep the web for mentions of you or your company
  • Keep your ear to the ground for industry information
  • Watch out for changes to your competitors, suppliers, or clients
  • Keep up on news about a specific topic (e.g. an election, an upcoming film, or anything “Coquitlam business” related)
  • Stay in the loop on any topic Google covers!

How is this done? Simply go to Google Alerts and set one up today! If you have a Google account, log in and set up a series of Alerts that you can update and change whenever you’d like. You can even set the frequency of the reports you receive. Very handy.

How did it go? Are you receiving good information? Feel free to comment.

Tips on Becoming a Blogging Pro

For anyone new to to the experience, blogging can be quite overwhelming. Oh, sure, it’s cool for the first few days until you realize you’ve already run out of topics (a very nerve-wracking moment). Then what? How many times do your patient clients want to hear about the dog’s weekend antics? (In case you’re confused: zero.)

No fear. I’ve come across help for all of us: ProBlogger is offering an on-going, online course, 31 Days to Building a Better Blog. I took the course, as did a blog-seasoned colleague of mine, and found it extremely helpful. Written by professional blogger Darren Rowse, the course touches on writing different types of posts, planning a posting schedule, SEO auditing, and digging into your site’s statistics, among other things.

Take the course day-by-day, as it was intended, or sit down for a blog-a-thon of all 31 posts. But — if you’re intending on adding blogging to your marketing program — be sure to take a look.

Twitter for the Entrepreneur

I must admit, I was a little wary of Twitter when it first broke onto the scene. Micro-blog about my day? How exciting could my lunch break be?

That is until a colleague asked me, “Is it because it seems too personal?” Eureka! That was it! I was very uncomfortable talking about the banalities of my life. Heck, even I find those things boring and I’m living them. That’s when I decided to use Twitter for business purposes only.

I have to say that I have a new respect for Twitter. I have a few colleagues that I follow — we all work alone — and it actually feels a little like being in an office again. When I log in, I hear all about the stubborn code that just won’t work or the insane deadline another has set for herself. Suddenly, it’s not banal at all but an easy way to briefly connect and lose that feeling of isolation solo entrepreneurs often feel.

Okay, I’m still not a super-Tweeter. I tend to listen way more than I Tweet (which follows with my personality anyway) but I do now consider Twitter an important part of my day.

I’m at @PebbleRoad, if you’d like to join the Twitter conversation.