Goddess Fish Tour Winners!

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On Wednesday, I completed my seven-week tour with Goddess Fish. I wish to thank Marianne Arkins for all her help and support during the past two months.

Congratulations to …

Commenter Natasha Donohoo – $75 Amazon gift card.

Host of The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Something Year Old Girl Blog – $25 Amazon gift card

A big thank you to everyone who visited and commented on my posts.

Happy Holidays!

Angels at AUTHORSdB

I’m always on the lookout for the “better angels of our nature,” so I wasn’t too surprised when I came across the angels at AUTHORSdB.

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These angels help all writers–aspiring, traditional, indie–increase their readership and flourish in the global marketplace.

What is surprising?

It’s FREE!

As one of 3000+ members, I can…

• List all my books and social media sites in one location.

• Receive tweets from AUTHORSdB when I’m trending in social media, launching a new book or have news to share.

• Have the opportunity to be featured on the TOP100 list and Author Spotlight.

• Appear in the weekly Featured Authors section.

• Enter my cover in the annual contest.

• Qualify for the VIP Blogger Award and increase my Google page rank.

Visit my page.

Impressed by Mr. Bob

Engaging and entertaining, Mr. Bob Cassels is an expert at referral marketing. mr.bob2

At last night’s GWIN (Guelph Women in Networking) meeting, Mr. Bob challenged us with several provocative questions:

• What do you do with your client list?
• Are your customers referring you to new customers?
• How much time do you spend with existing customers?
• Do advertising companies guarantee increased sales?
• Do you have a system that promotes customer retention and rejuvenation?

Mr. Bob has a clear mission.

Using his unique Cassels Opinionnaire, he can help small businesses flourish in a crowded marketplace. Throughout the seminar, he stressed that present customers are a goldmine for repeat sales and new referrals.

I was surprised by the statistics he shared from Fabled Services by Betsy Sanders. In response to the question, “Why Do Companies Lose Customers?” Sanders discovered that…

• 1% died.
• 3% moved away.
• 5% were influenced by friends.
• 14% were dissatisfied with the product.
• 68% were turned away by an attitude of indifference on the part of a company.

Mr. Bob’s Bottom Line–“I recommend you spend a little less on new sales and retain more customers by spending more on the 68% you could potentially lose from indifference. At a fraction of the cost of obtaining new customers, you can show your existing ones that they are appreciated. Customers who are appreciated spend more.”

Inspired by Intrigue Media

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Community building.

An unexpected perk from the workshop, “Attract and Engage Customers with Social Media,” offered by Intrigue Media.

In addition to delivering an excellent presentation chock-full of information about Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, Online Marketing Specialist Vanessa Young succeeded in creating a sense of community among the four participants.

Photographer. Lawyer. Furniture Store Manager. Writer. Under normal circumstances, we would never have connected, let alone supported each other on our respective journeys. But that’s exactly what happened yesterday evening in the warm, inviting house at the corner of Westmount and Speedvale in Guelph, Ontario.

As Vanessa outlined fifteen key points to social media success, she included personal anecdotes and examples. We also shared and felt comfortable enough to ask questions and solicit advice throughout the presentation. So much so, that we went thirty minutes overtime!

My favorite nuggets…

  • Diversify and connect the different social media tools.
  • Use contests, deals and giveaways to create more buzz. Several examples were shared, among them Amazon and Starbucks gift cards, free e-readers and book donations to a charity of choice. Contests centered on creating captions and slogans were highly recommended.
  • Post and share relevant content, with the emphasis on quality.
  •  Less is definitely more. Don’t annoy followers with too many posts. Vanessa recommends no more than three Facebook posts a day. Keep the messages short and sweet. Twitter has a built-in limit of 140 characters. For Facebook, keep the posts under 180 characters.
  • Keep the hashtags down to two per tweet.
  • Most important of all—Interact and engage with your friends and followers.

Driving home, so many possibilities whirled through my mind.

  • A Facebook contest to celebrate the launch of the book cover.
  • Caption contests for Isabella, the protagonist of Between Land and Sea.
  • Joining LinkedIn.
  • Revamping my website.

Molte grazie Vanessa Young & Intrigue Media!

The Web Whisperer

get_image.phpOn Friday, Web Development Librarian Randy Oldham facilitated a lively and interactive workshop on “Writing for the Web” at the University of Guelph.  In addition to presenting five tips, Oldham provided well-placed humor and several practice exercises to reinforce those concepts. I appreciated the gentle nudges and urged Oldham to consider a sideline as web whisperer.

Be Concise

Words cost us brain power and time. If we imagine that each word has a cost and that our users are cheap, we will make an effort to get our copy down to the bare basic facts.

Good questions to ask…

  • What is the point of this page?
  • What content on the page fits with my expectations?
  • What doesn’t belong with the title?
  • Have I gone into too much detail?
  • Are my introductions too long?

Make it Scannable

Oldham informed us that three out of every ten people are color blind. So, when we use—and often overuse color—we are disenfranchising thirty percent of the population.

Other suggestions…

  • Break information into manageable chunks by using bulleted or numbered lists.
  • Keep sentences short and avoid long paragraphs.
  • Don’t use italics or the underline feature.
  • Use boldface sparingly and smoothly.
  • Select sans serif (Arial) over serif (Times New Roman) font.  Eyes will fatigue when reading serif font. Size: at least 12 point.
  • Avoid unnecessary images.

Use Active Voice

The passive voice is jarring to read and makes us sound robotic. On the other hand, the active voice makes sentences shorter and easier to read.

Be Conversational

Make web content friendly and easy to read.

 Link Smoothly

When you include tons of links on your page, you detract from your credibility. Aim for no more than five links in a post.

Colleen Tully and the Bees

colleenftullyColleen Tully likes to talk about beehives. Not the usual topic one would expect during a workshop on “How to Please Both People and Robots with Your Digital Content.” But the senior editor of Fresh Juice and former web food editor at Canadian Living effectively pulled it off yesterday at the University of  Guelph’s Third Annual Writers Workshop.

In comparing the social media community to beehives, Tully outlined the pitfalls that could be encountered by bloggers, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest users. We cannot and should not underestimate the intelligence of bees. The bees  know when we’re being greedy and will react accordingly if we annoy them.

So, how do we please our hive and get noticed in the digital arena?

Consider Tully’s suggestions…

  • Write concise digital content for easily distracted people who need to be entertained.
  • Your title will be vacuumed into other platforms. Make it count!
  • Break up copy into sub-headings, short paragraphs and lists.
  • Do not steal artwork for publication. Use Instagram or your own photographs.
  • Pick the social media platform you like and understand the rest.
  • Use conversations starters to generate more interaction on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Put space and time between each content share. Everyone hates a spammer.
  • Don’t push your content and walk away. Instead, share ideas from other sources, even your competitors.
  • Package content with timelessness, seasonality and trends in mind.
  • Keep in mind that social media is not the ugly stepsister to a website or print publication.