Little Red’s Top 5 Content Marketing Infographics for March 2014- Implement a Strategy TODAY!

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(Image courtesy of http://visual.ly/dos-and-donts-content-marketing?_from=homepage)

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(Image courtesy of http://betterdealsmarketing.com/infographic-content-marketing-traditional-advertisings-new-rival/)

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(Image courtesy of http://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2013/11/6-top-infographics-to-understand-content-marketing-world.html)

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(Image courtesy of http://www.marketingtechblog.com/7-steps-optimized-content-strategy/)

AND

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(image courtesy of http://www.womma.org/posts/2013/01/infographic-why-content-marketing-works)

What is it with technology today?!

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Don’t know what is going on but nothing is working for me tonight- MailChimp is down, email is down, “work work” email is error-ed up to its eyeballs, I can’t post to Facebook and my new PSD files won’t load.

Have you had one of these crap-filled days or nights lately??

If technology was a punching bag, I would punch it. *points finger wildly at all the technology*

Why Social Media Isn’t The Be-All & End-All in Small Business

Social media is pretty cool. When I was a kid in the ’80s, social media came in the form of taking polaroid photos out in the street and having your friends pin pics of you up on their bedroom wall. Or I bought a “Girlfriend” or “Dolly” magazine to find out the latest celebrity goss. God help me…..

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(Image courtesy of robotchile.com)

Now, we can tell everyone what we are doing, at the time of doing it,from exactly where we are and how and some people really want to know this. Some people thrive on “spying” on what others are up to. The instantaneous nature of social media sharing is probably one of the most profound phenomenons of my time. At the ripe old age of 31 years, that’s a lonnnnnnng time right?

We can send instant messages, we can repin, tweet, google+ and link up in networks.We can join private, secluded groups, we can blog, we can email and chat online. Business life has certainly been made a lot easier in many respects. Time management and information sharing are the biggest winners in the age of social media (Sorry Australia Post, but your snail mail is just not cutting the mustard anymore!)

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(image courtesy of thebookclubblog.co.za)

Sorry Aus Post, but this snail delivers faster mail than you. And with a smile on his tiny slimy snail face.

I know my father (bless his beautifully daggy soul) would be so into iPads, tablets, Skype, Wifi, and all the gadgetry that has come about over the past 10 years. Gadgetry has literally changed life as we know it. I now can strangely say I don’t know anyone who doesn’t own a smartphone and or a tablet. Even laptops are becoming a bit mehhhh.

In a lot of ways, social media is really “sharing” rather than being typically social. Yeah, you can interact with people, even strangers, but as I remember it, being social was going out and meeting people, spending time with people you know and sharing face to face.

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(Image courtesy of http://english.alarabiya.net)

Are you one of these “phonies”?

I think social media has given people a sense of confidence to hide behind a screen or smartphone and proudly boast about their business successes which is great, good on them. But could they brag in real life? Do they have what it takes to network in a room full of strangers? Could they stand up in front of a crowd and tell people why they are better than the rest? And how they can solve the problems of the world’s business-minded folk?  And why you should “befriend” them and “like their page”?

I’m a big talker. In fact, I’m known to dabble a bit in waffling and or gasbagging from time to time. I think talking and sharing face to face can create so much more of an impact than sharing images and business tips online (I do this, I know). But being able to “talk the walk and walk the walk” seems so much more amazing than “sharing, commenting, liking, tweeting, repinning and status updating”. And there’s nothing like having a few community connections here and there, don’t forget “it’s who you know, not what you know”.

I just want to chat, have a cuppa, receive some good advice, have a laugh, take some notes (because I know some UH-MAY-ZING entrepreneurs) and really get to know people in business. I want people to know who I am first, and what I do for a living second.

Face to Face over Face-to-Facebook any day.

Just my humble opinion.

If It Doesn’t Challenge You, It Doesn’t Change You

I’ve been on an extended break from Little Red Writing Solutions to focus on my family commitments over the Christmas and New Year period. It has been wonderful to just be with my children and my husband and to be able to just relax and have fun without any major planning.

In the back of my mind however, I have been going over and over what heading back to “work work” will mean for me. I write during the night when my children are asleep and I have a part-time day job which keeps me more than occupied.

But soon, my contract will end and I’ll need to find more “work work”. You may or may not know that I am a Registered Nurse and was working in Surgical Nursing until I went on Maternity Leave to have my daughter in December of 2012. Alongside writing. Then in April of last year, my Mother passed away unexpectedly and my whole career vision started to shift. I couldn’t go back to Nursing out of fear of breaking down in front of patients. I couldn’t face introducing myself to a patient with the same name as my Mother. I was frightened to leave my children to go and care for other families when I needed to be around them so badly. So it was with this sudden change of heart that I decided to let myself look into other options, without feeling “guilty” for leaving Nursing.

I made the decision to take on a temporary contract at a hospital I was very familiar with, just so I could work, heal and have the time I desperately wanted with my young children. The job has been wonderful. I’ve really enjoyed it and still have a few months left.

In the meantime, as I continue to write for Little Red part-time, I’ve happily and proudly come to a conclusion. With my extensive public health care experience and my profound passion in the areas of grief and bereavement, depressive illness, anxiety and panic disorders and mental illness, I can happily announce I’ve been accepted into a Masters in Psychology program.

I needed to take greater responsibility for my long-term happiness and for the future of my family and believe that this path in life is for me. So with this career change, so changes the rest of my life! I haven’t left Nursing behind yet and I’m not sure if I ever will, but for now, I’m putting all my (spare) energy into this new program, combined with Little Red.

Little Red will continue on as normal (refer to my Facebook page for opening hours and the product/ service listing), I just needed to share my good news.

Cannot wait for these new challenges to test every inch of me!

Lauren @LittleRed

Take Control of Social Media in 2014- A Little Red Investigation

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{image courtesy of bryandigital.wordpress.com}

After spending 2013 on all the big wig social media platforms {and truth be told, enjoying Pinterest and Facebook the most}, I’ve come across some trends that I hope will prevail this year {oh dear God it’s a new year already and I was only just getting used to writing 2-0-1-3……}

Social Storytelling is booming. We’ve all read the “I can check in on Foursquare, Post a Photo of it on Instragram, post an update on Facebook, Tweet my details” etc posts floating around in Google. We can share EVERYTHING we do ANYWHERE at ANYTIME. How cool is that?!

We all know how huge Facebook is. We spend the most time on it. We connect with friends more there than we do text and call friends in Australia {are text messages almost as obsolete as the old ICQ chat thing? I never used it but it must’ve been quite intriguing}. Mobile-friendly Facebook is quite awesome. It’s not much more difficult to navigate than Desktop Facebook, probably because all the top developers know that wherever we go, we want Facebook to be right there with us. We want to tell our friends and consumers {if you are a business owner and Facebook-savvy} what we’re up to, where we are checking in and so forth. In other words, read our online diary to our friends and followers.

Tailored content and mobile/video ads {of which YouTube are already the masters} have made website browsing, searching and shopping all the more simplified through the likes {pardon the pun?} of Facebook advertising. Your business is instantly mobile friendly with the short ads that are now, well practically everywhere. Sometimes you don’t even know you’ve clicked on a sponsored ad {if you don’t happen to spot the “SPONSORED” sign on some posts}. Also, search high and low through iTunes and PlayStore this year for business-related apps. Every year is the Year of the App, but with most sites being mobile-friendly, how better to pair a mobile site with a few handy apps to get your business motor running this New Year.

My advice to small business owners and community page owners this year re: Facebook? Stop spamming people’s walls and connect. Make new contacts that you’ll actually engage with. I’m over the “like for like” experience. Most of the people i “like” won’t come back to visit my page. And frankly, I don’t want to be spammed with another “try this miracle body wrap and lose 2000 inches of your childbearing hips” page {whinge over}.

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Are you already onboard the S.S #facebookhashtag? Wondering how much it will grow in 2014. All my friends hash-tag and to be honest, I find it entertaining and thought-provoking. Especially to think that you have to come up with some very poignant, individual words for some otherwise mindless pics or updates. But to me, they always work and the random conversations where every word is hashtagged always makes me giggle {is hashtagged a word in the dictionary yet?}

For those who went to Kindergarten and for those who remember it, we all used to participate in Show And Tell- where we’d share an important fact, object, detail of our life. This can now be loosely translated into how we see social media now. So much more of our content this year should be visual and image based. We want to like what we see, we want to focus on detail and we don’t always want to read thousands of words strung together. B-O-R-ing.

Marketing will go full circle and come back to basics this year. 91% of marketing gurus in Australia {roughly} used social media platforms in 2013. Small businesses are all about social media. Social media has become a solid investment and is no longer about communication only. Factor in networking/collaborating, planning, processing and researching and there you have it my friends, your focus for 2014 {SOCIAL MEDIA, in case you missed it}.

Google+. SEO’s best friend. Now here lies an interesting social media network. Have you noticed that to access good old YouTube, you now need a Google+ account? Sneaky hey?! Thumbs up Google, well played. Join a Google+ Hangout, TV for social media and comment and share information in real-time. I’ve tried it and I love it. In the past two years, I’ve been led to believe that Google+ has jumped above Twitter in the number-of-users game. But the big question is- will it jump above Facebook? We’ll know soon enough. Jump on Google+ in 2014 and network like crazy. It’s good fun and well worth your time. 

Instagram- the online photo album. #hash #tag #crazy. Take a photo of anything in good taste/good spirit and it’s out there for the Instagramers to “heart”. #idontliketalkinginhashtagsbecauseibelieveingoodgrammarandpunctuation but I do like seeing what celebrities are posting, it’s like a free version of NW Magazine. I expect that Instagram will only get bigger this year, especially with the new ads and “Flipagram”-style videos you can post. It was found to be the fastest growing social network in the world for 2013. {you probably should follow me on Instagram, really}. A friend told me on New Years Eve that over 70% of the top brands in the world now use Instagram. Now there goes the old catalogues in the mail that I used to read whilst having a hot cuppa. Everything goes out of style!

No matter which platform you’re on, you’ll always find those viral posts somehow. You know, the ones with a kazillion shares of that picture of a monkey riding greyhound in a cowboy suit or the “my girlfriend will marry me if this post gets a trillion likes”. Keep sharing them or even better still, use 2014 to create one of your own. You never know what will go viral! In my case, I always look at funny posts that will make me cry in hysterics. You’ll have my vote if you can make me laugh that hard.

My second favourite platform {well, favourite in my personal domain rather than professional} is Pinterest. Oh my Lord, the ideas that have come from this network are unbelievable. As a crafty person myself, Pinterest is like Heaven. Pinterest now has analytics and place and rich pins. Can’t go wrong this year with Pinterest, it’s as simple as pinning a pin.

Twitter is a digitally enhanced land I used to visit quite often but with my desperate need for human contact, I found it a little cold and uninviting in 2013. With tailored audiences, promoted accounts showing up in timelines and keyword targeting to hit the big{ger} time in 2014, don’t ignore Twitter any longer. Do what you can to get the hang of it. My business tip? You need to post a lot otherwise you won’t be seen. Simple.

If you want to network more and find more leads in 2014, head across to LinkedIn. It may not look as pretty as Facebook and as covered in beautifully filtered pics as Instagram but it’s worth it.

Social media advertising will become more complicated than ever in 2014. Just because I think there are so many outlets and new audiences to reach. Status updates can be “promoted”, you can DIY advertising packages now and it’s becoming easier for anyone to share their work and thoughts. I’d stay away from the “give me $5 and I’ll give your page 1000 new fans” packages this year. Let all those pages fizzle out. I’m sorry but if I pay more money, like $1000, and you’ll give me 100,000 new fans, do you actually have 100,000+ fans yourself and do you know these people? Are their pages reputable? Will they engage with me and my business? Nope. So no thank you, if you want to like my page in 2014, you need to be interested in what I do and who I am. Another Little Red tip: stop tricking your consumers this year, your SEO needs to be a brilliant display of online marketing.

2014 is all about pizzazz, personality. Guts and glory. Digital marketing is losing steam and people want to connect with real people. Not updates on autopilot. Recommendations from others drives up sales. I know I buy many things after being recommended them by friends and family. We want to know the truth from people we can trust and this is how we should want our consumers to see us and our products. They want to know about us and what we do. Not who we think we want to be and what we think we should be telling them to drive up our analytics figures {despite our society’s focus driven by performance}.

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This year, stop thinking about how Facebook and Twitter ads will earn you money. Question whether it is worth it and then think about how you can improve your social media profiles to offer more insight to your consumers. People want advice and information. People always seek out help. You need to know how to show people they need you without selling til the cows come home.

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Privacy and censorship has taken a back seat to the proliferation of social media in years of late. Do we care less? Why don’t we feel the need to restrict what strangers can and can’t do with our information? Because the more we share, the greater the reaction we get from people. We love being recognised and we love creating original and unique content. It’s free and we get a kick out of it.

My final thoughts? Pinterest will be amazingly helpful to personal and professional account holders {did you know you can have a business account on Pinterest now?} and survive huge growth spurts this year. Foursquare and Tumblr will be on the up but Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are where it’s at {again} this year.

Arm yourself with knowledge in 2014. It’s your greatest weapon and ally. Only 39% of Aussie have some type of social media strategy in place when it comes to small and online business operations. In a time where B2B connections are more important than ever, get yourself with a top-knotch diary, some longlasting pens and get writing. Plan the heck out of 2014 and you’ll see the light.

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Lauren @LittleRed

 

Good morning, would you like a new app to go with that small business?

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Here is my list of new apps to try, if you haven’t already. {Hopefully} you find more than one handy helper in here that will allow you to work more effectively.

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  1. Co Tweet {for those larger businesses}
  2. Tweepie
  3. Sendible
  4. Timely
  5. Klout Web Service
  6. Check It!
  7. Dragon Dictation
  8. HomeBase
  9. PingFM
  10. Abukai
  11. AirSharing
  12. Adobe Reader
  13. FormMobi
  14. Bump
  15. Spout
  16. Vignature
  17. SignEasy
  18. Triberr
  19. FreshBooks
  20. KoolSpan TrustCall
  21. CardMunch Business Card Reader
  22. Highlight
  23. EasyNote & To Do
  24. Kindle
  25. MeetUp
  26. Odometer
  27. UberSocial
  28. WifiFinder
  29. Air Sharing
  30. Mozy
  31. ZenDesk
  32. Shopify
  33. DocuSign Ink
  34. Pinpointe
  35. FlipBoard
  36. DocsToGo
  37. (e)xcel Contacts Lite
  38. Apple Analytics App
  39. DropBox
  40. HomeBase
  41. Peak Meetings
  42. Simple Note

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Which ones of these have you tried? Which would come with your highest {or lowest} recommendations?

There are KAZILLIONS of apps on the move out there for Apple, Android and Windows. Please help me extend my list!

Anything that helps a small business owner save time and increase efficiency is handy in my book.

Lauren @LittleRed