Top 5 Most Useful Twitter Tools

cracked-twitter-logo-psd47658

There are many tools on the internets today to help marketers master the Twiter-shpere.  I personally stopped counting at 90 tools.  So after a little thought here are my top five useful Twitter tools in no particular order.

#1 Bit.ly

BITLY

At first it seems as though Bit.ly is just a service to shorten your links, right?  This is incorrect.  A free Bit.ly account will give the user access to a dashboard where the user can shorten and share links to multiple Twitter accounts.  You can also see analytics for any Bit.ly links that you share through the dashboard.  You can also apply the Bit.ly API into other applications such as Tweetdeck to get statistics for links shared through those applications also.  Plus, you can even create your own custom short domain so that you can match your domain to your brand.

#2 Buffer

BUFFER

Buffer allows the user to schedule tweets to be tweeted at certain times throughout the day.  This will help you to not spam 20 tweets within an hour to your followers.  You may have 20 ideas for tweets but this way you can keep your good ideas and spread them out over time.  Buffer also offers analytics on your tweets that will help you determine what your audience loves or hates out of the content you share and the times of the day your tweets get the most interaction.

#3 HootSuite

HOOTSUITE

HootSuite is a freemium tool.  This means you can use the free plan to manage fewer than five social media profiles and offers analytics.  There is, however, a Pro version of the application that lets you have unlimited profiles and includes enhanced analytics, the price isn’t too bad for only $5.99 USD per month.

#4 Paper.li

PAPERLI

Paper.li is a quite different application from the last three mentioned here.  It allows you to collect tweets and curate them, manually or automatically, into a newspaper styled format which can be automatically shared on your Twitter account daily.  You can collect tweets from followers, users on a specific Twitter list or anyone that mentions a particular hashtag.

#5 Twitterfeed

TWITTERFEED

Twitter feed allows the user to add RSS feeds that will be shared automatically through the user’s Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts every time there is a new update to the RSS feed.  Also, it is not limited to your RSS feed, you add RSS feeds of other people to be shared.

 

As I said at the beginning of this post, I found 90+ tools to use for Twitter and there are probably hundreds.  This is not and end all be all list but these applications seem to be the most useful for marketing yourself or your brand in a timely and efficient manner.

Advertisements

5 ingredients to baking and the science behind them

051126028-01-science-of-baking-cookies-illustration_xlg_xl

Some say baking is an art while others say that it can be a science.  Here are five ingredients commonly used in baking and cool scientific facts about them.

#1 Flour

Ardent-Mills-talks-future-as-flour-milling-major

Flour is used in almost every baked good whether it be your favorite pastry or a delicious cookie.  Flour is made up of two proteins: glutenin and gliadin.

When you add water to flour to hydrate the ingredients, these proteins are drawn to each other and bond forming a new protein called gluten.

Now that you have dough, the next step would be kneading the dough.  Kneading the dough builds gluten networks which in turn support the bread that it will become later in the oven.  While dough rises, existing gluten threads touch and create more links inside the dough.  When the now kneaded dough is baking inside the oven, the proteins and starches in the flour transform into a sturdy webbing inside your baked product.

 

#2 Leavening agents

how-to-fight-colds-and-the-flu-with-baking-soda1

Leavening agents are made up of yeast, baking soda and baking powder.

Yeast literally brings bread to life.  As yeast feeds on sugars in the dough, it produces a liquid that when it touches an air pocket it produces carbon dioxide and alcohol.  The elastic dough traps the small carbon dioxide bubbles and the dough rises.

Meanwhile, baking powder and baking soda release carbon dioxide that only enlarge bubbles that already exist in the batter.

Baking soda reacts chemically with acids such as citrus juice, buttermilk, molasses, honey and chocolate to produce carbon dioxide.

Baking powder adds carbon dioxide twice during the baking process.  Once when it reacts with liquids during mixing and again when it is exposed to higher temperatures in the oven.

 

#3 Eggs

101

There are two parts of the egg to consider while baking.

Egg whites

Egg whites work as leavening agents.  When heated, the proteins in the egg whites uncoil and practically explode during the baking process.  The proteins also force out moisture when they are heated which is something to take into consideration while baking.  This can lead to chalky dry pastries.

Egg yolks

Egg yolks, on the other hand, add moisture to baked products.  Too much egg yolks and your baked good could come out kind of wet.

 

#4 Fats

fatty-acid

Adding fats to your baked good can make them tender.  Fats coat the proteins in flour preventing them from bonding with water and forming gluten.  Oil coats flour’s proteins better than butter, therefore, oil based cakes are moister than butter based cakes.

#5 Sugar and Milk

l_00032158

Sure, sugar gives pastries their wonderful sweetness, but it also helps keep them moist.  There is a scientific explanation behind sugars tenderizing properties.

When you add sugar, the proteins glutenin and gliadin break off separately and not much gluten is formed.  Too much sugar and your baked product will not have any structure.

Milk also helps baked goods be moist.  Milk contains the sugar lactose which bonds with flour proteins and prevents gluten formation.

In addition to their tenderizing properties, sugar and milk promote browning of the pastry.  Bread crust is essentially caramelized sugars.

These are just a few ingredients used in the baking process to make wonderful creations.  It is amazing how science can explain how each ingredient acts and reacts with one another.  Just like with science, baking requires a lot of experimentation.  The addition of a few more measurements of one ingredient could cause disaster or awesomeness.  Subtract some measurements of another and you would get a completely different product.

Yes, mom, even baking cookies has science in it!

Why Donate to Doctors Without Borders?

logo-homepage

So why donate to Doctors Without Borders? You might ask.  Well it is very friendly to people with beliefs that coincide with Secular Humanism.  Doctors Without Borders offers a great deal of help to those suffering around the world due to any number of disasters, whether it be war, disease or natural.  The organization plays a neutral role, not held down by religion, politics, nation, borders, or any dogmatic beliefs.  They will help anyone who will take help. Also, they show an extraordinary amount of transparency and even have been known to produce reports about themselves that do not show them in good light.  This humbleness and openness about mistakes also adds quality to the organization.

Here is a brief history of the organization, as well as some of their accomplishments.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders as known in the United States and Canada, is an international humanitarian-aid non-governmental organization (NGO) and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.  MSF is best known for its projects in war-torn regions and developing countries facing epidemic diseases.

During the Nigerian Civil War from 1967 to 1970, a number of French doctors volunteered with the French Red Cross to work in hospitals and feeding centers in besieged Biafra.  After entering the country, the volunteers and Biafran health workers were subjected to attacks by the Nigerian army, and witnessed civilians being murdered and starved by the blockading forces. The doctors publicly criticized the Nigerian government and the Red Cross for their seemingly complicit behavior.

“These doctors concluded that a new aid organization was needed that would ignore political/religious boundaries and prioritize the welfare of victims.”

 

The Groupe d’Intervention Médicale et Chirurgicale en Urgence (Emergency Medical and Surgical Intervention Group) was formed in 1970 by French doctors who had worked in Biafra, to provide aid and to emphasize the importance of victims’ rights over neutrality.  During this time, Raymond Borel, an editor of the French medical journal TONUS, created a group called Secours Médical Français (French Medical Relief) because of the 1970 cyclone that had killed 625,000 in Pakistan. On 20 December 1971, the two groups of colleagues merged to form Médecins Sans Frontières.

poster

Since as far back as 1979, MSF has been providing medical humanitarian help in Sudan.  Sudan has been a nation plagued by civil war and starvation.  In 2009, MSF had reported that it had employed a field staff of 4,590 in Sudan.  These staff attack problems such as epidemic diseases, health care and social exclusion.  They provide many healthcare services such as nutritional support, reproductive healthcare, counselling services and surgery.

In Rwanda 1994 then the genocide began, MSF working along with the International Committee of the Red Cross succeeded in keeping all the main hospitals open in the capital city during the main period of the genocide.

In Sierra Leone, MSF helped vaccinate 3 million Nigerians against meningitis during an epidemic in 1996.

In 1999 MSF launched the Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines giving them a new voice to bring about awareness of the lack of effective treatments and vaccines available in developing countries.  They also had a long campaign in Kosovo during the Kosovo War where they provided shelter, water and healthcare to civilians affected by NATO’s strategic bombing campaigns.

The list of achievements goes on for quite a while.  I did not want to bore you with more facts upon facts about the work Doctors Without Borders does.  These humanitarian doctors and nurses see past all the labels, affiliations, lifestyles, who’s side you are on and treat everyone they can as equals.  I find it a breath of fresh air in a world where who you are or what you think determines the quality of help, if any, you receive.

4 Important SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Practices

SEOheader

So what should we be concerned with when creating content with Search Engine Optimization in mind?  After reviewing some very informative articles on SEO I have found that not only the <title and <Meta “description” are important but also that social media postings that include links to your site impact the ranking of your site.

The most important information I took away from these article are:

  • Titles on web pages
  • The use of Meta tags
  • How inbound links affect SEO
  • The use of common terms

This may not be in the mind of most bloggers or social media marketers but the title of each page on your blog or business website should have a title.  The title is in the HTML code between your <head> tags.

htmlsnap

This title is one of the first things search engines look at when ranking your page.  The title should be brief and descriptive.  If the title is long and contains many keywords it may be ignored.  Also, each page should have a unique title that describes the content held in each page.  Notice on your blog that when a specific blog post is viewed the title changes to the title of your blog post.  Therefore, using brief descriptive titles for your blog posts in very important for SEO.

A few other important tags in the HTML code of your blog, which I am sure can be edited in the paid version of WordPress, is the Meta tag and the alt section of your images.

meta-tags

With the <meta name=”KEYWORDS” or “DESCRIPTION” sections in the HTML code you set a kind of memory bank within your page with a large amount of keywords and descriptions.  The keywords section seems to be dying out in favor of the description.  In the description you can give a short summary of what the content of the pages holds.  With this you still have to keep in mind that keywords are important.  Also, the description Meta tag is often used as the snippet that a search engine displays to the user.

descriptMETA

Inbound links are probably the most important part of having a site ranked well by a search engine.  Inbound links are those that do not reside on your site but are found on outside sources and directly link to your website.  There are two types of inbound links which are text and image based links.  Sure you could be fancy and seemingly smart to have an image, when clicked on, take the user directly to your site.

 Studies have shown that text based inbound links are more effective at both garnering more traffic and improving your Page Rank.

A cool thing about textual inbound links is that the text of the link can have keywords associated with your website and in effect boost your ranking even more.

When thinking of keywords for SEO it is best to use common terms that apply to your target audience but not so common that there is mass competition over that specific word.  So instead of using “Home Cooling Unit” as a keyword use “Refrigerator”.  No one in the target audience for refrigerators will be search for the latter term.

Sources:

seomarketingworld.com

moz.com

Google Webmaster Tools

Search engine optimization

Bing Webmaster Guidelines

Examples of Good Facebook Pages

For my top five Facebook pages I took into account a few things to choose the pages.

  • Relevant posts
  • Interaction with fans
  • Quality of posts
  • Video and photo quality
  • Application on the page

#1 Web Designer Depot

webdesignerdepot

The first page a chose is Web Designer Depot.  I have personally followed this page for quite some time and they definitely stay relevant.  Their posts are usually consist of one of three things.

  • Posts with links to articles or tutorials hosted on their website
  • Funny pictures that poke fun at web design such as html or java script jokes
  • Post that link to articles or photos directly related to design from outside sources

I especially like the logo they use and the banner photo which I feel fits the subject matter and is quite pleasing to look at.

 

#2 Hot Topic

hottopic

Next would be and actual brick and mortar store, Hot Topic.  The logo and banner fit well.  The logo is very simple but impactful and the banner is just a wall of t-shirt designs but it works because that is what the store is known for.  They also take advantage of the “Shop Now” button.  There is a nearby locations application with a map and local locations displayed which is important for a brick and mortar store.  All of the posts are relevant to the brand and encompass music and fashion.

 

#3 Amazon.com

amazon

Another Facebook page that I am sure everyone likes and follows is Amazon.com.

The first thing you see is the iconic logo and a fun banner photo that has cute animals taking refuge in Amazon boxes.  The photos even look as though they were customer submitted adding a certain fun appeal.  Amazon also uses the “Shop Now” button.  They have special offers posted daily but a majority of the posts consist of fun images, graphics, animations, and videos that are entertaining be also link to products sold by Amazon.  They also have community guidelines in their more section which makes me think they care about the interactions of their community.

 

#4 Newegg

newegg

Newegg holds a special place in my heart as a PC hardware enthusiast.  Their logo conveys professionalism and the banner add makes a great statement with the words “MAY CONTAIN AWESOME.” Boldly printed with what seems to be an employee preparing to ship the awesome.  They do not, surprisingly, have a “Shop Now’ button they do link to their Instagram and Pinterest.  All of the post center around their target audience which are PC gamers and hardware nerds.  They hold contests and special Facebook deals to promote their business and display visitor posts which are usually customer service problems that seem to be swiftly resolved.

#5 Cyanide & Happiness

cyna

Ok, so this may not see applicable but Cyanide & Happiness is not just an online comic strip, it IS a business.  They sell a variety of merchandise right at the top of their page.  All of the posts are meant to be fun and entertaining.  They post video from their YouTube channel and comics that directly link to the main site of explosm.net all of which generate revenue and build their brand.  In every post they interact with the community and you can look at any post and see thousands of comments and even community creations.

Effective Social Media Strategy

So, I read thought about seven or eight blog posts about effective social media strategy and I found that many of them had similar points to make.  I will go over these similarities below, but for now here is the list of the five blog posts I thought were most informative.

Maybe we can make a drinking game out of how many times Social Media Strategy is typed in this post.

From what I have gathered from these five posts are three main points when considering an effective social media strategy.

chess_stretch2_1

 

First would be setting a realistic goal and one that can be measured.  There is no point in investing time and effort into social media if your success or failure cannot be demonstrated as measurable metrics.  If you wish to have 1,000 followers on Facebook then set that goal and use metrics to better understand your successes and failings.  Using measurement tools can guide you by highlighting what works and what doesn’t.

The next, which applies to most any kind of media marketing, is to understand your target audience.  This is vital to every form of marketing but more so in social media.  The things you might ask are:

  • Where does my target audience spend the most amount of time? (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram ect.)
  • How does my target audience interact with friends?

If your target audience is not very active on Youtube then you can save yourself time and money posting videos that no one will ever see.

The last point that stood out to me was that even if you represent a large company you have to be real and be human.  When posting it should represent you and your brand so it should reflect how you are in real life.  When I say “be human” I mean have a conversation, be thoughtful, and be engaging