February 6, 2019

Why (and How) to Set Healthy Social Media Limits        

Filed under: Social Media — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

In my post about why I didn’t check email on vacation, I talked about the reasons why you should avoid email on vacation (spoiler alert:  you will be more relaxed).

But for many of my colleagues and friends, the thought of taking a “digital detox”: is downright frightening. I totally get it: FOMO has been a part of my life since I was a teenager not wanting to miss a Friday night party. And since much of my social media usage is business-related, there’s the fear of missing out on a business opportunity.

Arianna Huffington—author of the book Thrive, which examines our addiction to productivity—describes our digital addictions perfectly: “We fear that if we don’t cram as much as possible into our day, we might miss out on something fabulous, important, special, or career advancing.”

Set digital limits—and stick to them

So how do we get ourselves out of this downward spiral of feeling like we always have to be connected? We’re not going to leave behind our smartphones anytime soon. The answer is: creating a healthy relationship with technology.

Like myself, journalist and former editor-in-chief of Glamour and Self, Cindi Leive decided to keep the spirit of her “digital detox” going when she came back from vacation. She says: “I’m vowing to stay off email for most of my evenings, to keep my phone in my bag, not my hand, more often this year. Anyone with me?” Sign me up!

Once I became more aware of how often I check my phone—and how most of the time it’s out of habit and not necessity—I knew I needed to set ground rules for my social media usage:

  1. No checking email on weekends.
  2. No phone usage while driving.
  3. No walking and texting.
  4. Minimal phone usage when kids are around.
  5. Minimal social media usage before bed.
  6. Bring magazines or books to appointments.

In general, I’ve gotten myself of the habit of using the phone as “something to do.” As a parent, I know sometimes you desperately need a break, but I try to grab a magazine or book instead. And if I am browsing my phone with the kids around, I will include them in the experience by showing them a picture or telling them about an interesting article I read.

Get a little help from your (app) friends

If the thought of going cold turkey on digital scares you, there are apps that track your digital device usage, such as Moment and QualityTime, which can bring you more awareness of how much time you’re spending on digital devices. (Also useful for iPad-addicted kids!)

If you’re ready to go hardcore, there are apps like Flipd that temporarily lock your phone for a period of time—and restarting doesn’t affect it so you can’t cheat.

And tech companies are jumping on board too: Google and Apple recently announced system-level tools designed to help users monitor their screen time and restrict their use of apps. And Facebook and Instagram debuted similar features that will be integrated within their applications. As this WIRED post says, “The implication of these companies’ actions is clear, if softly stated: People want help unplugging from our products, and they are in a position to help.” (Honestly, I’m a bit skeptical, but I will hope that is their intention.)

Remove—but make a healthy replacement

Instead of just stopping your digital habits cold turkey, it can help to replace it with something healthier. As Huffington suggests in Thrive, “Our primary goal shouldn’t be merely breaking bad habits as much as replacing them with new, healthier habits that help us thrive.”

Along those lines, it’s worthwhile to examine how you feel when you use digital devices. For example, if you feel tired and drained after reading your Facebook feed, perhaps your time would be better served doing something that makes you feel uplifted and inspired.

Personally, my solution during my vacation digital detox was to replace the time I usually spent in the evenings on social media with another activity—in my case, reading books or a magazine. And I found that it actually helps me sleep better, since I don’t have myriad thoughts running through my head before bed (which inevitably happens after browsing social media).

Be more intentional

My word for this year is “essential” so I decided to apply that advice by doing a clean install on my new phone and only adding apps that are essential—which meant no social media apps.

Now, if I want to post on social media, I have to do it from another device which makes it more intentional (and, I will admit, sometimes frustrating—old habits die hard!) Also, since I can only check social media at certain times of the day, it helps avoid the mindless browsing throughout the day.

And since the habit of checking my phone upon awakening is hard to break, at least now I’m seeing an empty screen—instead of a long list of notifications that puts my brain into “MUST—RESPOND—NOW” mode. This makes for a more peaceful morning and less chaotic start to the workday.

Disconnect to reconnect

This leads me to this last piece of advice from Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive: “Disconnecting from the digital world will help you reconnect to your wisdom, intuition, and creativity. When you wake up in the morning, don’t start your day by looking at your smartphone. Take one minute—trust me, you do have one minute—to breathe deeply, or be grateful, or set your intention for the day.”

My 7-year-old has a great habit of saying “Get off your phone and play with me!” which is a great approach to take—whether you have kids or not.

Everyone’s ideal situation is different, but if you bring more awareness to your digital usage, you will be amazed by how much better you feel.

January 30, 2019

7 Blogs to Follow to Improve Your Social Media Marketing

Filed under: Social Media — lidia @ 10:00 am

Social media can seem daunting when you’re working solo, or at a nonprofit organization or small business. Here are the social media blogs that I find most useful for staying up-to-date in the changing world of social media.

Many of these blogs also offer weekly email tips and/or how-to or beginner’s guides to social media topics, so if you are just diving in keep an eye out for those.

7 Useful Social Media Marketing Blogs to Follow

Buffer Blog

Buffer makes my favorite social media scheduler and shares the latest trends in social media marketing, as well as useful case studies from companies that are doing it well.

Digital Marketer

Digital Marketer shares tips, roundups, and lots of  “best-ofs” (i.e. best articles for organic traffic, etc.) as well as many free social media-related worksheets and resources.

HubSpot Blog

HubSpot is one of my favorite overall marketing resources—especially for a small business like myself. They are champions for inbound marketing and share social media advice that is clear and easy to adapt. They also have a free Social Media Certification course through their HubSpot Academy.

Moz Social Media Blog

Moz is an SEO tool, so they approach social media from an SEO perspective (you can’t have one without the other, right?) Check out their Beginner’s Guide to Social Media.

Orbit Media Social Media Blog

Orbit Media is a Chicago-based web design and development agency and they are my go-to for content marketing advice in general because they make it so easy to understand and implement (and it’s like they KNOW what I’m thinking…)

Social Media Examiner

SME was one of my first social media marketing resources, but it continues to be one of of my go-tos. You can pretty much find anything related to social media here, and they also host a yearly conference called Social Media Marketing World. 

Social Media Today

SMT offers a great overview of all social media channels, as well as content marketing. Their home page includes a library of free ebooks and calendar of upcoming events.

Sprout Social Blog

Sprout Social is another great social media scheduling tool and they share quick tips, geared to small businesses. Check out their complete guide to social media for small business. 

 

Did I miss any of your faves?

January 4, 2019

Kick off the year with a quick social media audit (free worksheet)

Filed under: Social Media — lidia @ 9:00 am

yearly social media audit worksheet

For last few years, I have started the new year with a social media audit to assess the previous year’s results. It’s a quick and easy process and provides useful insight for your social media strategy.

How to perform a fast and easy social media audit

Before you start, you have to know your social media goals. What are you hoping to accomplish through your social media efforts? For example, it could be brand awareness, increase in sales, increase in followers, or email list growth. Keep your goals SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

Next, review your social media numbers. Review analytics for the past year in all of your social media accounts—including your blog and email marketing—and jot down key data, such as follower growth and top-performing posts. Compare the results to past years’ data, as well as your current goals.

Lastly, revise your social media plan for the new year. Review your results and use the data to refine your social media strategy for the upcoming year. For example, did a particular type of Facebook post or email newsletter subject perform well? Make sure it’s incorporated into this year’s content calendar.

How to find social media data

Not all outlets allow you to download a year’s worth of analytics, so you may have to do some digging. In addition to each outlets’ built-in analytics, here are few other handy resources for reviewing social media analytics:

Doing this short exercise will allow you to see what worked last year, helping to refine your social media goals and strategic plan for the new year.

Make it easy by using a worksheet

I usually track my yearly social media data in Evernote (you can also use a Google or Excel sheet) but this year, I created a handy worksheet where you can input your social media data and see your progress at-a-glance.

Download my Yearly Social Media Audit Worksheet (PDF). If you find it useful or have suggestions, please let me know!

Yearly Social Media Audit worksheet

August 11, 2016

5 resources that make managing social media easier

Filed under: Social Media — Tags: , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

tree-200795_1920-e1462982590624

I manage my business’ social media marketing myself so I know it’s no easy task for a smaller organization or nonprofit who doesn’t have a dedicated social media manager. These 5 resources can make the process much easier for you (#1 is my fave).

This post originally appeared on the Imagine PR ImagineBlog

As a PR and marketing company, and a small business owner, staying up-to-date with the most recent social media news is a necessity. It can be difficult identifying market trends, and knowing how to capitalize on them, but having great news resources really makes the process so much easier.  Unfortunately there is no one-stop-shop site. However,  we’ve put together a list of our top 5 favorite websites for finding social media news. Whether you want to hear about emerging start-up companies, or if you need to collect content to share on social media, we have you covered.

Check out our list below and if you use a site that you don’t see on this list, share it with us in the comment section below. We are always looking for great news resources!

sme_logo_whiteSocial Media Examiner

Social Media Examiner is great for small business who really want to learn the ins and outs of all the social media platforms. With tons of “How to” articles and lists of tips and best practices, you will find all you need to know about starting a social media campaign, and plenty of content to share with your network.

 

smw2015-featSocial Media Week

Social Media Week is a great source for everything social media. They mostly cover social media breaking news and insightful articles and lists, focusing on trends in the market and what they mean for small businesses. Additionally, Social Media Week hosts unique conferences “that explores the intersection of social technology and creativity with a week of panels, presentations, demos, workshops, talks, conversations, and interactive events.” Social Media Week will be hosting their CHICAGO conference November 14 – 18, providing attendees with great educational experiences, and networking opportunities with some of the biggest influencers, from almost every industry. Secure your tickets now.

forbesForbes

Forbes social media section is more business and investor oriented than sites like Social Media week. While Forbes will rarely have lists like “5 ways social media is changing this year”, Forbes highlights top performers, and emerging companies. If monitored properly, Forbes has the potential to help you stay one step ahead of your competitors when it comes to adopting, and utilizing the latest technologies to make your business more efficient.

 

SocialTimes_640x480Social Times

Social Times is like a hybrid of Forbes and Social Media Week. They have a good stream of industry news and highlights of how innovative companies are using social media platforms to grow their businesses. Another awesome feature of Social Times is that they place the topic of the article above the title. For example, if an article is about which casinos are most popular on Instagram, Instagram will appear above the title. This saves you the time of scanning articles to see if they’re what you need.

squarelogo_9Social Media Today

Social Media Today is catered for the more serious and experienced marketers. That’s not to say “newbies” shouldn’t read it, because they should, the content is simply more useful if you already have a very good understanding of what works for you and what doesn’t. They have some great “How to” articles, but half of the content is mostly useful for key decision makers – those who are no longer executing day-to-day marketing campaigns, but are now in charge of finding the best systems for analytics and trends.

February 1, 2016

My day as a judge at the IAPD/IPRA Conference

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion,Social Media — lidia @ 3:38 pm

IMG_6668

Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to be a judge in the Agency Showcase Awards at the IAPD/IPRA Conference.

The Agency Showcase Awards feature the best communication and marketing materials at park and recreation agencies. My category was email communications (one of my current design passions) and I judged the entries on four points: overall design, copy and grammar, strategy, and results.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the different approaches each agency took with their email communications and I was pleased to see the useful content they are sharing regularly with their readers and neighbors.

Best of luck to the winners!

Need help with your next email campaign? Send me a note and let’s chat.

 

September 16, 2013

October 5, 2012

Blogging mamas

Filed under: Biz Mama,Small Business,Social Media — Tags: , , — lidia @ 10:23 am

In my recent research on blogging, I’ve discovered that many bloggers are also moms. This surprised and delighted me. It’s nice to feel like you have a connection with people you follow online.

Some of the blogging gals already had children when they started their blog, while others started their blogging careers while pregnant or after their first child. Now before you start thinking: they have it so easy, not having a “job” to go to every day. Many of the bloggers, I found out, work full-time on their blogs and care for their children, which isn’t an easy task.

Blogging, like other freelance careers, offers the flexibility to work on your own schedule—which is perfect for moms. But is also means long hours and hard work, which requires a a lot of planning and balance when you have a family. Now, I don’t plan to become a full-time blogger but I really admire the ones who are. Give them a shoutout next time you are on their blog!

A few of my favorite blogging mamas

A Cup of Jo

Oh Joy!

Mom Inc. Daily

Making it Lovely

More blogging mamas…

Speaking of blogging mamas, Babble just released their list of Top 50 Design Blogs for Mom (including many of my faves!)

 

Who are your favorite blogging mamas?

September 19, 2012

Need a ticket…to Alt Summit, that is. @altsummit

Filed under: Social Media — Tags: , , — lidia @ 10:49 am

As I’ve been revamping my blog, the Alt Summit blog has been a fantastic source of inspiration and information. Along with interviews with bloggers I admire, I’ve found useful tips for growing my blog.

What is Alt Summit?

I discovered Alt Summit, a conference for design and lifestyle bloggers, earlier this year on twitter. I stumbled upon the From Blog to Book panel with Amy Butler, Grace Bonney, Julia Rothman, Lia Ronnen and Kate Woodrow and decided to live vicariously through twitter. (see the twitter timeline here)

I was amazed at the generosity of the panel members in sharing tips and information—and later, in responding to people’s comments and questions on the Chronicle Books blog. I said to myself: I need to be at Alt Summit next year! Well, it looks like I’m too late (tickets are already sold out!) But if I’m lucky, I just might win a ticket…

Alt Summit’s blogging resources

For blogging inspiration and business advice check out the new Alt blog. They also offer online classes on the Alt Summit Channel.

February 21, 2011

Are you using O2O marketing for your small business?

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion,Social Media — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

photo on flickr by zoovroo

I recently read Duct Tape founder John Jantsch‘s article on 5 Trends that Will Shape Small Business in 2011. One trend that resonated with me was: O2O (online 2 offline) marketing.

What is O2O marketing?

John refers to it as “the logical integration of instant media with traditional media, social networks with chamber mixers.” He adds, “Online and offline, traditional media and new media, will stop competing and start working together.”

Admittedly, I’m an avid user of social media, however I also have a personal campaign to encourage people to send handwritten communications (read my articles here). Needless to say, I’m very fond of—and familiar with—the concept of online to offline marketing. And after being bombarded with social media opportunities, going offline for awhile is a nice change of pace.

How can O2O marketing be effective?

In my articles, I talk about about my own business relationships that were initiated online (i.e. twitter, blogs) but became established offline (i.e. handwritten note, in-person meeting). Without the offline communications, I wouldn’t have been able to to get to know the person and learn about their business. In each of these situations, I made not only a valuable business connection, but a new friend. And in small business, it’s all about creating personal relationships, discovering how we can work together or help each other.

How do you use online 2 offline marketing techniques in your own small business?

August 16, 2010

Social media + handwritten notes = great marketing strategy

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion,Social Media — lidia @ 9:00 am

Personalized notecards by Business Greetings by Lidia Varesco Design

I recently read an article in Deliver magazine about the company SimplySoles, who successfully combines their social media strategy with handwritten thank you notes to customers.

Being a graphic designer who uses social media as well a greeting card designer, I can completely relate to this—it’s the same approach I take with my business. I love being able to stay in touch and make connections via social media, but I feel strongly about using handwritten communications as well. There’s just something about a handwritten note that can’t be reproduced online.

Personally, I love receiving a card in the mail so I make an effort to send notes to clients and vendors regularly. Not only is sending a note to someone a nice thing to do, but it helps your businesses stand out from your competition and allows you to stay top-of-mind with clients and customers.

Get out your pen and stamps and start writing some cards!

Read the article here.