Hootlet: Hootsuite’s Newest Gem

HootSuite Certified Professional

As one of the newest Hootsuite University Certified Professionals, I give the program two thumbs way up! Hootsuite has a free version as well as paid one, and even if your business is small, I believe checking out Hootsuite’s dashboard at the very least could make a real difference in the efficiency of your company’s time spent on social media marketing.

As if this dashboard that helps you organize, schedule, track, and monitor your content across multiple social media platforms wasn’t already the best “right hand man” around, earlier this month Hootsuite released the Hootlet app. No more toggling from window to window or tab to tab when you are searching the web for the best way to share your content with the world. Hootlet takes out all of the hassle and makes sharing content to your followers one step, instead of a few.

For example, let’s just say you want to share my awesome chili recipe with your followers on Twitter and Facebook. All you have to do is click the Hootlet icon in the right hand, upper corner of the screen, and you can send my recipe to all of your followers on multiple platforms at once.

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Click here to see how easy it is to share any webpage with Hootlet!

You can also share YouTube videos across multiple platforms by clicking the “Share with Hootlet” icon.

Share your YouTube vids

Click here to see how easy it is to share YouTube videos on multiple social media platforms with Hootlet!

Here are a few other features that Hootlet has to offer:

  • The option to schedule a post at a later date.
  • If you aren’t sure when is the best time to schedule your posts, an auto schedule option is available that chooses the optimal time to post your content.
  • When you search the web with keywords on Google, Hootlet shows tweets that are relevant to your search on the right hand side of the screen. highlighting your search’s social media relevance.
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  • Hootlet also allows you to pull up tweets from around the location of a business listing or from Google maps. You can then reply to a tweet right from the browser or add this search as a stream to your Hootsuite dashboard for further monitoring.

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  • Highlighting a section of text and then right clicking on it will give you the option to directly quote the highlighted area with Hootlet. You can then send it out to whichever social networks you choose.

If you want to see what we’ve talked about in action, here’s a short one minute walk through of how Hootlet works.

Sincerely,

Amanda

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Social Gaming: A New Venue for Marketing

I have to admit, I’m kind of a nerd. I didn’t grow up on video games, but somewhere in my early 20’s I stumbled upon World of Warcraft and I totally became a big nerd for a while. If you are unfamiliar with W.O.W. it is a MMORPG, or Massively Multiplayer Online Roll-Playing Game. With over 11 million subscribers, you could call it the epitome of social gaming. Inevitably I eventually realized that I needed to find a more productive way to spend my time rather than riding around on an over-sized ostrich in a fantasy world killing things and trying to get better gear for my Blood Elf Paladin. ( If you’re clueless, it’s alright. Just don’t ask.) I’ll just say it was fun while it lasted.

There are many facets to social gaming, which centers around competitors who interact in an online community that has predetermined rules and goals. If you’re starting to wonder what any of this has to do with social media marketing, let me give you an example.

In-Game Static/Display Advertising

Have you ever been playing Call of Duty and upon running in to an advertisement for a Big Mac you had to run out to the 24 hour McDonald’s down the street? The subconscious can be a powerful motivator. A study by Nielsen Entertainment found that brand familiarity rose 64 percent in study participants after exposure to in-game ads. Purchase consideration also increased by 41 percent in this study.

Social games offer a very specific targeted audience for your brand marketing. A “hardcore gamer” (a gamer who has highly advanced skills and must invest extended periods of time into each game-play session) is so immersed within a game, that real world venues and advertisements are necessary to make the game environment believable. Display ads like the one above are a simple way to place your product into a game. You can also use script placements/verbal mentions. These work best in games like Madden NFL who has partnered with Old Spice and Snickers.

On the other hand, casual gamers play games like Words With Friends while riding the bus or waiting at the laundromat.  Casual gamers also enjoy games like Candy Crush and Farmville that are connected to Facebook. These games don’t require a lot of time to play and are easy to learn.

In game advertising on Angry Birds

I feel it is an oversight on my part that up to this point I’ve overlooked the marketing potential social gaming has to offer. With games offering small target audiences and ads being relatively inexpensive, there may be a spot for your brand. Gaming isn’t just for teenage boys anymore. The average gamer has 12 years of gaming experience under their belt and is 34 years old. Games within the context of social media platforms opened up a whole new breed of casual gamers that includes more women and older consumers, not just younger males

Yours Truly,

Amanda

Six-Word Memoirs: Not Quite What I Was Planning

Sitting in my lit class last week with a smirk on my face, I was feeling skeptical. The topic was “six-word memoirs,” and I was unsure I was going to be able to write one. Well, one that wasn’t terrible anyway. How in the world are you supposed to tell your life story in six words?

As our professor started reading a few aloud from the book, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure, I was pretty amazed at the funny, emotional, sarcastic, and thoughtful content the authors were able to pack into six short words.

  • What the hell, might as well.
  • Most successful accomplishments based on spite.
  • Forgot to say I loved her.
  • Oklahoma girl meets world. Regrets it.
  • Time to start over again, again.
  • Foreign, even to my home country.
  • Hard beginning. Harder middle. Happy ending.
  • Expected prime rib, ended with hamburger.

“Literary legend” states that Ernest Hemingway was once tasked with writing a short story in only six words. Hemingway’s short story read, “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.” This one sentence has the ability to send your mind in many different directions. Makes you think, doesn’t it? SMITH Magazine took Hemingway’s accomplishment and ran with it. Today, over 700,000 people have submitted their own short memoirs on SMITH Magazine’s website, Six Word Memoirs. Some of the memoirs on the site are even accompanied by pictures.

This is what I really love about all creative writing. It has the ability to make us think and spark our imaginations– whether we’re writing or reading it.  I may take away something that is completely different than the person sitting next to me when we both read the six-word memoir, I don’t nibble, I bite hard. What if this memoir was written a bit differently? I don’t nibble, I bite. Hard. Do you interpret the author’s meaning with a different connotation?

My first try at a six-word memoir went something like this: hope and passion, always a necessity. If you know me personally, this may make sense to you. If you don’t, you may take my thoughts in a completely different direction than the one I was going for. I love that!

I will leave you with a charge to reply and post your own six-word memoir in the comment section below. Here is one of the more thought provoking six-word memoirs that I have read so far to get you going.

I will never be quite finished.

Yours Truly,

Amanda

Social Media Monitoring: Learning to Handle the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

A study done by The Social Habit revealed that 42% of customers expect a response within 60 minutes when in contact with a brand, product, or company on social media. What’s even more shocking is that 32% of respondents reveled they expect a response within 30 minutes of posting a complaint on social media. Talk about impatient customers! The infographic below breaks down the time expectancy of consumers even further.

Now more than ever, companies large and small need to jump on-board with the many social media monitoring tools (SMM) that are ready and waiting to aid in responding to customers, monitoring feedback, streamlining posts between platforms, and analyzing data. These include dashboards that help monitor content across multiple social media platforms in real-time like Hootsuite, as well as other SMM that monitor social media influence, analytics, and marketing like Klout.

The fact is your customers are screaming, and creating their own dialogue about your business via the internet and social media.  Customer mentions, reviews or criticisms about your products and services, whether good, bad or ugly, need to be responded to personally and professionally, and immediately. –Newtrep Media

The infographic below gives insights on what some businesses are already doing with SMM and some of the best free and paid tools that you should give a whirl.

Social Media Monitoring Tools

The gap between social media monitoring for personal and professional use is large. Let’s take a look at a simple and free site that can help demonstrate this difference. Kred is a website that gives an influence score from 0-1000 mainly focusing on interaction with your posts from other users who have also signed up for Kred. The next score measures outreach shown as a ratio, with 12 being the cap. For example, my influence score is 492/1000, and my outreach score is 4/12. When signed in to your Kred account, charts are available showing the location of users that are interacting with your profiles, your most popular mentions and posts, top communities you are involved in, as as well as other useful graphs on social media influence.

Here are the most mentioned words about me in the last month on Kred. I find it interesting that the first word is awesome! 🙂 Imagine If these mentions were about your business. You can track the most popular topics and trends that your fans are using in relation to your business from month to month. This could be very helpful to lead you in the right direction for all of your business’ marketing and advertising campaigns.

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Whether you’re spending zero to 100 dollars per month on social media monitoring or over 10,000, you have to start somewhere! Give a free platform a try today, and move your way up! You will literally be able to see your business’ growth with analytical charts and graphs provided by these SMM tools. Good luck!

Best Wishes,

Amanda

Comfort Cooking

When I first tried my hand at cooking when I was around the age of 10 or 11, my favorite thing to do was put in the spices. I liked to crush the dried leaves between my fingers. I liked to stir the pot, sample, and then add more spices (and then more…). I hated measuring anything! I liked the experience of adding different spices until I decided that everything was just right. I grew up in the country, so most of these dishes were pretty simple. Spaghetti sauce is what sticks out in my mind as being my favorite “guinea pig” as a kid. For whatever reason, when I look back at my first experiences with cooking, this is what I remember: spices.

I moved out on my own to Louisville when I was 20. I started to seek out new types of cuisine, watch cooking shows, and experiment in the kitchen. I wont say I’ve become a master chef by any means, but I have learned that cooking relaxes me. I know there are some people who probably think I am absolutely insane for saying this, but sometimes after a long day at work or school, all I want to do is go home and cook. I zone out! Every other worry goes out the window– except for maybe deciding on what I’m going to chop next. Whether I’m actually in the kitchen cooking, or I’m just brainstorming for my next trip to the grocery by looking up recipes on Pinterest when I can’t sleep at 3 A.M, time flies by when I’m thinking about food.

Here are a few surefire tips I’ve learned over the years when it comes to cooking. Some of these may be a refresher course if you already know your way around the kitchen, but I have to make sure everyone has the basics down. 🙂 (I’ve also included a few awesome recipes!)

  1. When you’re cooking any type of meat, in any dish, from African Peanut Stew to Emeril’s White Bean Turkey Chili, don’t forget to season your meat with salt and pepper. It makes all the difference in the world!
  2. Always go light on the rosemary. It can overpower any dish!
  3. If you like heat in your dishes like I do (and I mean heat in scoville units, not temperature), use fresh ingredients like jalapenos or serrano peppers without removing the inner white part of the pepper (a.k.a. capsaicin). This is where all the “heat” is, and your food will have a lot more kick if you use fresh ingredients during the cooking process, rather than just adding hot sauce after the fact.
  4. Fresh basil makes everything Italian ten times better!
  5. A few dashes of liquid smoke make green beans amazing (or anything else you want to add a hint of smokiness to).
  6. Chili is an exercise in throwing everything but the kitchen sink into a pot. I’m sure you all have your own methods for the basic pot of chili. Next time don’t forget to throw in a few squirts of your favorite mustard, ketchup, bbq sauce, a couple pinches of brown sugar, a splash of vinegar, a few clips of cilantro stems (or ground cardamum), and a dash of cinnamon. Most importantly, instead of adding water before you let your chili reduce down, add a dark beer or a large cup of coffee to the mix. Do NOT do this if you don’t have time to let the chili meld together. This requires AT LEAST two hours and I prefer four or more for the best fusion of flavors.

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This was dinner tonight. Might not be the prettiest Instagram shot ever, but it’s my favorite way to kick off some fall weather, unwind after a long school day, and warm up my insides!

Thanks,

Amanda

Indiana Caverns: Some Dreams Do Come True

My Dad’s First Book

I grew up in southern Indiana. I’m definitely a country girl at heart (this by no means includes country music), although I’ve become used to what you could call “city life,” since I’ve lived in Louisville for the last ten years.

Besides seeing my family more often, the only thing I miss about living in the country is being surrounded by nature. I miss being able to see the stars at night, fields of grass (not just patches), creeks that are clean enough to swim in, climbing trees, walking in the woods, and caves. When most of you think of nature, caves may be the farthest thing from your mind. There is definitely a reason that I do think of caves.

Since the first time my Dad went into a cave as a Boy Scout when he was 11 years old, his passion in life has been caving. He’s the type of person you’re sort of jealous of because they found a hobby that they were able to turn into a career, and then make all their dreams come true.

Soon after my Dad graduated from Vanderbilt University, he and a few of his friends were hired to develop (entailing, digging, blasting, and building trails inside a cave so it can be opened for public tours) Squire Boone Caverns.  This took the team three years of slogging through the mud on weekends and resulted in a great opportunity for my Dad.

A few months after they finished the project in 1973, he became a part owner and general manager of Marengo Cave. This is where I spent most of my childhood. I ran around in the woods, went horseback riding, and followed cave tours until I was old enough to be a tour guide myself. It was an awesome way to grow up. I was a lucky kid, plus having the experience of working in public relations at such a young age was a great asset for my future.

The cave and above ground property were completely redeveloped in the 27 years my family owned it. Unfortunately my Dad’s vision for Marengo began to diverge from his partner’s over the years, and my Mom and Dad made the decision to sell their half in 2001.

Our story doesn’t end here though. This past June my Dad was able to complete his dream of developing a third cave from the ground up. My Dad began surveying in Binkley’s Cave with his buddies back in the late 60’s, and after almost 50 years, a section of this cave is finally open to the public. Development was a rough year of grueling 12 hour days for my Dad and his crew. I was eternally glad to see the project completed. You know there are always a few hiccups with an undertaking this large. Apparently developing a cave at the age of 66 is a little different from when you are in your early 20’s. You think?!

Boat Ride in Indiana Caverns

When Indiana Caverns opened June 15, 2013, it was the 11th largest cave in the United States. Exploration of new passages has been ongoing, and a few weeks ago, Indiana Caverns moved up to the 9th longest cave in the U.S.

Big Bone Mountain

We can all learn about true passion and commitment from my Dad. If you want to check out his dream come true, Indiana Caverns is located about 35 minutes from Louisville in Corydon, Indiana.

Best Wishes,

Amanda