Mobile Blog: From My iPad to Your Pad

February 24, 2011


The post in Preview mode

On the go a lot, I am always looking for ways to lighten my load and accomplish more. That’s why I was happy to find the two cool apps that allow me to blog on my iPad.

WordPress for iOS
Although not as robust of course as the regular application, it does offer quite a lot. You can import media, photos or video, as well as view and delete comments and pages. It allows you to add more than one blog too, which makes it easy to go back and forth without logging in and out. You compose the post in the “write” mode, then click on “preview” to view it, much as you do in the regular WordPress.  There is no visual mode, so once the post is written, you have to edit without seeing the photos, only the html coding of them. (see below.)


The post after it is published. Photos only visible in html mode.

PhotoPad
This is one of the coolest iOS photo apps I have seen–and it’s free. Before I found it I had downloaded Adobe Photoshop Express. It allows you to adjust exposure and contrast, and has some cool borders and effects, but I rarely use those. What I really needed was the ability to scale my photos to exactly the right pixel width for my blogs. Photoshop Express offers cropping, flipping, straightening, and rotating, but not scaling. Here’s where Photopad really works for me!

In the top navigation you select your photos from the photo library on your iPad. Cropping and rotation, paint brushes, paint bucket, color adjustments and special filters are located in the tools menu accessible at the top of the screen. There is also a history, so you can retrace your steps and go back to something earlier if you change your mind.

Cropping is easily managed by manually dragging the edges of the bounding box with your fingers. When you like what you have created, just tap the check mark in the upper right of your screen. Done. If you don’t like it, no problem. Just tap the “x” on the top left and it will bring you back to the original.

The brush tool lets you draw on the image. Great for adding notations, such as the arrow I placed on the above image.

Want to  create artwork from your photos? There are some cool things you can achieve with the filters. The example above was created using the “abstract” filter.

This image was posterized. Kind of cool, eh?

But my favorite feature is the scaling mode. It allows you–albeit a bit slowly–to adjust up or down the actual pixel height and width of the image (in green.) Photopad does not constrain the ratio, so I took note of the percentage (x1.00) on one, then matched the other to that. It worked perfectly.

Once I saved my images, they were in my photo library and I could upload them into the WordPress app to post from there.

Now go blog from anywhere!

Seven Tips for Getting More Twitter Followers

December 16, 2010

Like a blog, Twitter is a platform for communicating and engaging but in a very limited way: with a maximum of 140 characters. Also known as a ‘microblog,’ it can be one of the best tools for drawing traffic to your blog. Here are five tips for establishing a strong Twitter presence and for engaging effectively:

1. Build Realationships
Be authentic and personal. Social Media is all about establishing relationships, after all that’s why it’s called “social” media. Being open and honest builds trust, encourages connection and word-of-mouth traffic. This will extend to your offline relationship building as well. Some of my biggest followers have also become good friends offline.

2. Share the Wealth
And not just your own: strike a good balance between posting your own content—or pointing to your own blog posts—and sharing what others have to say.
Some “experts” insist that one out of four tweets should be about you, the rest not. Here again, I suggest that the quality of the content you offer up–whether it be on your blog, on Twitter, or in person–is what makes people want to follow you. Would you want to sit next to someone at dinner who had nothing interesting to say or just talked about themselves?

3. Engage: It’s a Two-Way Conversation
Reply to those who tweet you, and, as often as possible, thank folks for their mentions, RTs, and for following you.

4. Be Consistent
Just as you need to blog consistently to establish and retain followers, you need to do the same on Twitter. Although some say one must Tweet 4-5 times per day, I don’t believe there are any hard and fast rules. Using a Twitter client like Hootsuite (my personal favorite), TweetDeck, or Seesmic not only helps you manage your tweets, it allows you to schedule tweets in advance. That said, schedule them for times when you think your followers will be tuned in.

5. Set a Time to Tweet: Timing is Everything
Or is it? Statistics indicate that the best times during the day to Tweet are 9am (just getting to work), Noon (taking that lunch break), 3pm (afternoon coffee break), and 6pm (just before leaving the office.)

6. Make Them Short and Sweet
Keep your tweets short so others can retweet them without going over the 140 character limit. Remember, when someone RTs your tweet, their Twitter handle is added, making the next tweet longer.

7. Incorporate Twitter Into Your Overall Web Strategy
Perhaps this last one should have been the first: Offer people as many opportunities as possible to connect with you. Link Twitter to your other online activity, including your website and/or blog, and your other social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

How to Add Twitter to Facebook
http://twitter.com/widgets/facebook

How to Add Twitter to Your Blog (Step-by-Step)
http://ow.ly/3qpGi

6 Benefits of Building a Brand in the Blogosphere Age

November 30, 2010

From American Express Open Forum, by Lena West, XynoMedia Technology

Social media has put the one-to-many model of marketing and branding on steroids. It used to be that companies had to market to people by sending catalogs, brochures, postcards or other direct mail pieces. It was time-consuming to get all that promotional material printed, collated, folded and out the door into a local mailbox. Whew, it feels like a lot of work just describing that process (not that there isn’t a place for direct marketing still).

But, for the record, let’s talk about what a brand is and isn’t. A brand is not your logo, your corporate colors or the font you use for callouts on your blog. A brand is the culmination of the total experience your market has with your company. So, it is all of those things collectively, yet none of those things separately.

For example, my brand promise is built on generosity, reciprocity, no-nonsense, cut-to-the-chase, make it simple principles. This comes across when I’m speaking on stage and in person. I’m amazed when people tell me that I’m the same person onstage and off. My brand comes through in my writing style. I write how I speak. The logo for my company is very strong and solid, because that’s who I am. This is starting to make sense, yes?

We’ve entered a new era riddled with dichotomy. There are more eyeballs than ever, yet consumers are more educated, private and cautious than ever. They can friend and unfriend you all in the same minute. The market isn’t fickle, it’s downright erratic at times. How on earth can an honest company build and execute on a brand promise with all this undulation?

Social media allows you to:

1.  Seize the opportunity. When done correctly, social media can create a depth of experience with your company that would normally take years to cultivate. Take Twitter for example; companies have employees Tweeting on their behalf. What does this do? It makes the face of even the largest company, human. Have you ever seen Verizon’s Twitter page? You get to see faces behind the Tweets and the use of the Twitter shorthand up carat allows people to speak directly to a company’s Twitter spokespeople and have a real-time conversation. Company Twitter representatives can offer support, general direction and praise all without picking up the phone, drafting an email or leaving the office. You can’t beat that with a stick.

2.  Choose who you are. All social media platforms have one element in common: a user profile. The user profile allows you to craft your brand experience based on the words you use, the words you don’t use and the energy in which the content is expressed. Of course, your network updates and Tweets need to reflect the same tone. For example, if your company’s description is very punchy, your market’s experience with your company won’t be the same if your updates are stiff and straitlaced.

3.  Tell the same story everywhere. If your business is represented and active on a few social media platforms, this gives you the opportunity to underscore exactly what your brand is about again and again and again. It doesn’t serve you to deliver one experience on your blog, a different experience on your Facebook Fan Page and a third type of encounter on Twitter. That’s inconsistent and will never help you build a sustainable brand that people like – and your market needs to like your brand.

4.  Leverage instantaneous feedback. The double-edged sword of social media is that your company can get feedback as fast as you can ask for it. Just ask the folks at Gap. Sales had been down for some time and without warning, pomp and circumstance, the company changed its logo from the classic, serif font we’ve all known to grow and love to something that looked like it belonged on a t-shirt tag in a strip mall.  I love Gap, but this new look was about as palatable as sourball candy. Now, don’t try this at home kids… the scuttlebutt about the logo did get the company some much-needed attention and sales are up. Did Gap do this on purpose? Did they use social media to drum up some social attention? We’ll never know, but the response across social media was, and still is, undeniable. The team at Under Armour has had the exact opposite experience with their Protect This House online video and commercial campaign. It’s called a double-edged sword for a reason.

5.  Invest time only. Many social media marketing tools are low-cost or free. You don’t have to pay for printing, stamps, paper or ink. If you can type, point and click, you can participate.

6.  Topple the leader. Social media platforms are just that – platforms. They are ways for your business to listen to your market, build a fabric of conversation around your brand, and when done right, eat the competition’s breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snack. It is not my intent to imply that this can be done quickly, but depending on your competition’s social media credibility (if they have any), there’s a potential to corner market share and mindshare. I forget who wrote this, but I read somewhere that nowadays everyone has a megaphone – it’s called a blog.

Using Mind Maps to Brainstorm Blog Content

November 25, 2010


Photo: playgallery.org

A mindmap is a diagramming process that can be very useful in creative problem solving and in the generation of ideas for blogs. Arranged around a central key word or concept, mindmaps are visual tools that allow you to identify and sort through the structure of a given subject while visualizing how different pieces of information relate together.


Mindmap by Paul Foreman

In addition to general brainstorming, mindmapping is great for developing social media content–especially blogs. The process can assist you in developing, visualizing, structuring, and classifying ideas, as well organizing information, solving problems, and making decisions. For your blog, you can use mindmaps to:

• Make connections between different topics

• Focus your story ideas

• Explore your story from different perspectives: this is very useful in social media as it’s important to speak to your audience’s interests, not just your own.

Tips for Making Your Own Mindmaps

• Use single words and simple phrases

• Use color to separate ideas (yellow is supposed to enhance short-term memory)

• Use pictures: pictures are easier to remember than words

• Draw links: cross link ideas to reinforce how one idea relates to another

Some Mindmap Examples


How to Twitter” mindmap by Adam Sicinski


“Choosing a Blog Topic” from growyourwritingbusiness.com


Getting the Message Across” from mindmapart.com

There are also numerous mindmapping software applications available, some free:

MindMeister:
http://www.mindmeister.com

MindOmo:
http://www.mindomo.com

Mind42:
http://www.mind42.com

FreeMind:
http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

Bubbl:
http://bubbl.us

WiseMapping:
http://www.wisemapping.com

Personal Brain:
http://www.thebrain.com

In The Blog Workshops we engage participants in a number of creative exercises, including The Imaginative Storm process which James Navé developed from the Artist’s Way Creativity Camps he’d been teaching with Julia Cameron, bestselling author of The Artist’s Way. The Imaginative Storm work frees you from that negative inner critic and from the “shoulds” that inhibit you from stepping outside of yourself to create fresh ideas. It is an improvisational creative process based on two principles:

1. The imagination will give you gifts, if you let it
2. Look for energy, not perfection

Do you have any techniques you’d like to share for developing ideas?

Blogging at Mother Earth News Fair

November 12, 2010

We were honored to be invited in September by Mother Earth News to offer two short blogging workshops at their fair, which drew more than 9,000 visitors to the Seven Springs Resort southeast of Pittsburgh.

If you missed this inaugural Mother Earth News event, you’ll have a chance on the west coast where they’ll be hosting two fairs next year. The hands-on sustainable lifestyle event features an expansive eco-friendly marketplace, organic and local food tasting, live music, plus dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on gardening, green building, renewable energy and more.


Blogher ’10, a Wow Event

August 8, 2010

We were thrilled these past 2 days to be a part of more than 2500 bloggers in New York City at Blogher ’10. We met amazing bloggers and other influential woman voices such as feminist icon, Gloria Feldt, former president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, and Marie Wilson of The White House Project. Feldt spoke about how all our stories are important–how the personal is political. The power of women bloggers was very clear as evidenced by the presence of brand sponsors such as Chevrolet, Pepsi, P&G and others who were there to grab the attention of the more than 1200 Mommy bloggers in attendance.

We attended a some wonderful informational sessions from which we walked away with some great tips to share:

Know Your Goals
Tech consultant, Adria Richards, Nancy Martiera of Ketchum PR, The Web Farm’s Keidra Chaney, and Wasabimon blogger Stephanie Stiavetti’s panel on Bog Stats was terrific. Some ideas gleamed: If you are treating your blog as a business, write a short business plan or a mission statement to identify your goals, timeline (5 years?), your targeted audience, and spell out what you want your readers to do. It’s ok to change your goals or to add to them, but having goals gives you a plan and also allows you to monitor and track your progress using tools such as Google Analytics.

Never Stop Learning
There are wonderful free tutorials available online. Check out Google’s Conversion University for lessons on how to interpret and use your analytics effectively. Learn, for example, about Bounce Rate and why sometimes having a high bounce rate is not bad.

Blogher ’11 will be in San Diego–we encourage you to attend.

Does Blogging Drive Connection?

June 9, 2010


Image courtesy of flickr/rodrigofavera

Long gone are the days when ‘online’ was synonymous with social isolation and loneliness. In fact, we’re now witnessing the exact opposite: technology is driving people to connect and meet up en masse with others, in the ‘real world’. It makes for an interesting, easily-digested trend, begging to be turned into new services for your customers.

Thanks to the online revolution, hundreds of millions are now actively searching for, finding, connecting/signaling, and staying in touch with likeminded souls in the virtual world. Constant updates, GPS and mobile online access is now bringing this explosion of dating, networking, socializing and mingling to the real world domain.

People Love to Connect
Some numbers:
• Twitter: 100 million+ users, with 50 million tweets sent each day.
• Facebook : nearing 500 million users. The average user has 130 friends, spends 55 minutes a day on the site and receives three “event invitations” to real-life gatherings every month (in December 2009, the company stated that 3.5 million events were created every month). Next? According to The New York TimesFacebook will soon incorporate ‘location’ in two ways: its own features for sharing location and APIs to let other sites and apps offer location services to Facebook users. This could well be a MASS MINGLING killer app.
• LinkedIn : over 65 million members. A new member joins LinkedIn approximately every second.
A ‘veteran’ MASS MINGLING engine like Meetup has 6.1 million members, handling 2.2 million RSVPs and 180,000 meet-ups, in 45,000 cities a month.
• Foursquare has one million users, while Gowalla: 150,000 users.
• Nearly three quarters (73%) of online teens and an equal number (72%) of young adults* use social network sites. 73% of adult profile owners use Facebook, 48% have a profile on MySpace and 14% use LinkedIn. (Source: Pew, Feb 2010.)

Some thoughts on how this will lead to ‘forever connected’ amongst younger generations, from our fave media guru Jeff Jarvis:
“Thanks to our connection machine, they [young people] will stay linked, likely for the rest of their lives. With their blogs, MySpace pages, Flickr photos, YouTube videos, Seesmic conversations, Twitter feeds, and all the means for sharing their lives yet to be invented, they will leave lifelong Google tracks that will make it easier to find them.”

People Love the “Real World”
This incredibly powerful tandem of mass urbanization and experiences has resulted in an orgy of real world activities and happenings that are all about mingling; from countless cultural and not so cultural events, concerts, festivals, and seminars, to a burgeoning and truly global bar/dining/party scene, to a Warholian retail renaissance, to tourism & travel now being one of the world’s largest industries, employing approximately 220 million people and generating over 9.4 percent of world GDP. In short, people have always, and will for a long time continue to enjoy interacting with other warm bodies.

via Trendwatching