I Hate Facebook!

I Hate Facebook!

Seriously, I truly hate Facebook and my low opinion is reinforced daily with news of more corporate misconduct. This post was not on my editorial calendar and has nothing to do with my usual subject matter. It is, in fact, simply a personal rant, but I have to get it off my chest!

Facebook: What’s To Love?

Facebook’s stated mission is to bring the world closer together, but the platform was originally developed with bad intentions and still carries negative energy.

Admittedly I was never really into it and only got an account to keep anyone else from claiming my name. My original objections were that the app was too demanding and intrusive. It seemed that if you were “on Facebook” it meant that you spent hours checking in, posting your whereabouts and activities for all the world to see.

Then after that you invested even more time digging into the lives of everyone else you had ever known since elementary school, for some reason. You were constantly alerted with notifications and reminders, and you could never get out from under its clutches.

It was as if the people I knew who were on Facebook had been hypnotized into recording their every move and random thought. So even though I created a profile, I never kept up with it.

I realized I actually couldn’t care less that a former co-worker was at Starbucks, or what the Joneses fed their dog for dinner. And I certainly didn’t need other people inserting themselves into my private life, either, thank you very much. Who has time for that?

And that brings me to my next point.

Good For Nothing But FOMO and Discord

Studies have shown, and anecdotes confirm, that social networking is not as beneficial as face-to-face human interaction. In fact, limiting one’s time spent on social media can lead to significant improvements in well-being.

Facebook is still the most-used social network, but research indicates that hanging out there doesn’t have the same positive impact on well-being that real-life relationships promote. In fact, “most measures of Facebook use in one year predicted a decrease in mental health in a later year.”

Encouraging people to waste time creating enviable online versions of their lives to provoke fear of missing out in others is probably the least of Facebook’s misdeeds.

How many friendships have been undone by oversharing and worse on Facebook? You’re exposed to other people’s abhorrent opinions every time you check in. Not to mention the bigotry, harassment, and bullying that goes on every day. Speaking of which …

Irresponsible Use Of Collected Data

Facebook bends over backward to avoid accountability for the hate speech on their platform. The network is used to spread demonstrably false information. And user information has been harvested for nefarious purposes.

But they refuse to share internal data with legitimate researchers, claiming it would breach their user agreement. Yet, strangely, that doesn’t stop them from profiting off user profiles to increase their revenue.

Corporate Culture Reeks of Greed

Facebook has no qualms about divulging personal data to advertisers and app developers to grow their bottom line. But they don’t want to be accountable for negative activity stemming from their lackadaisical approach to its users’ information.

Internal documents have revealed that Mark Zuckerberg has a record of destroying competitors. What do you think he cares about the millions of people affected by these shenanigans?

Is a Social Media Presence Worth It?

At this point, both public trust and employee satisfaction are in decline, so it’s obvious that I’m not the only one dissatisfied and disillusioned with Facebook.

#DeleteFacebook is a thing that more and more people are actually getting serious about, if not always following through on.

I can’t bring myself to use Facebook even to promote my business, to my own detriment. I joined entrepreneurial groups and set up a business page like everyone advises you to do. But I haven’t interacted online, and my company has suffered as a result.

So it’s a dilemma. On the one hand, I need social media for marketing but I hate Facebook (and Twitter too, but that’s a rant for a different day). Yet I can’t bring myself to delete my account; I prefer to ignore it.

Have Your Say!

What do you think? Do you use Facebook personally or for business? How do you handle social media? Help! I could really use your advice so please comment below!

Your Website Needs These 5 FREE Content Marketing Tools

Your Website Needs These 5 FREE Content Marketing Tools

Content marketing tools are a must-have in every web marketer’s repertoire. They can simplify the content creation process and support your content strategy. And some of the most significant are also free — making them vital as well as helpful.

This list is not comprehensive by any means. I consulted ultimate guides to confirm that the tools I’ve found most useful in my everyday business are also recognized by content marketing experts.

These are five that I use myself and find valuable in everyday business. I only recommend products I have positive personal experiences with and would suggest to a friend.

Why Content Marketing Tools?

One 2016 content marketing industry survey found that 75% of content marketers were increasing their investment in marketing technology. This has resulted in a widening field of tools to meet the growing demand.

Resources are available to help you create, distribute, and measure the effectiveness of your content. While those highlighted here have been around a while, recent upgrades have added feature sets to keep them competitive in the ever-growing marketplace.

These apps, plugins, and platforms were designed to make your job as a content creator easier. Some products help you design beautiful marketing materials. Others automatically connect you with your audience. Use one to keep your editorial calendar and workflows organized. These must-have tools are perfect for polishing your content or building your authority.

All are easily available and absolutely free to use. While added features may be offered at a premium level for a fee, you’ll probably find that the free versions are perfectly suited to your current needs.

And it’s a relief to know that these tools can grow with you as your business matures. Having these resources at your disposal will enhance your content creation efforts and support your content marketing goals. Let’s take a look at what each one can offer you.

Project Management

Trello is an online project management tool that allows you to organize any task using visual boards, cards, and lists, which are unlimited in the free version. It’s flexible and can be used for any number of projects. The drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to create and manage notes, tasks, and ideas. Add labels, deadlines, checklists, and attachments to cards, making them a one-stop location for information storage.

Collaborate with as many others as required by the project, and everyone sees the same information instantly because it works in real time. Anyone you invite can also open a free account to gain access. If you have a team and need even more powerful features, Business Class is $9.99 per month per user.

Graphic Design

Canva is an easy-to-use graphic-design website that uses a drag-and-drop interface to create layouts and documents for print and online applications. Design anything you need with the countless templates, photos, illustrations, fonts, and icons provided. Other free resources include design courses, font pairing suggestions, a photo editor and a color palette generator.

The free version is perfect for general use, but Canva for Work offers extra functionality at $9.95 per month after a free 30-day trial. Collaboration, animations, transparent backgrounds and more make the upgrade worth the price if you need these features.

Email Marketing

MailChimp has grown from its simple email application roots into a full-fledged marketing platform. You can now create landing pages, postcards, signup forms, Google remarketing ads and Facebook ads, in addition to their email resources. Automations help you schedule email messages and marketing campaigns, and MailChimp also works with over 300 other tools and apps to simplify your workflows.

Although you can still start for free, you’ll be required to move up or move on after you reach 2,000 subscribers. At that point, evaluate whether to continue for a fee or investigate other providers. If it’s still working for you, you may decide to continue.

Try these FREE content marketing tools.

Try these FREE content marketing tools.

Writing Enhancement

Grammarly is any content creator’s best friend. In addition to checking your spelling and grammar, this free writing app will also detect plagiarism by checking against its huge database. The free browser extension works with almost every website to improve all your posts, documents, and messages.

If you work with a team, the Premium Plan offers advanced features for $29.95 per month, which can be billed quarterly or annually. But if you’re a solo entrepreneur like me, you should find the free plan robust enough to meet all your needs.

Research and Information

Quora may seem out of place on a list of content marketing tools, but take a closer look at this free question-and-answer site. You’ll find a wealth of information as well as potential to generate traffic to your own business. Search for questions related to your niche to get up-to-date information and different perspectives. Use problems your ideal customers need solving as the basis for new content.

Actually answering questions, on the other hand, can help identify you as an authority to others in your field, and let your target market know about your services and products.

Bonus

This is one lead magnet that’s definitely worth giving up your email address for. Opt-in Monster’s list of 700 Power Words will spice up your copy with persuasive language your readers will be unable to resist. And while their future posts are sure to offer even more value, you’re free to unsubscribe at any time.

Wrapping Up

Although these tools do different functions, they all deserve a place in your bag of tricks. Starting with a free trial makes the decision simpler since you can upgrade your account as your business grows. And if for some reason you’re not satisfied, the free trial was still worth what you paid to test the product!

If you’re not using one or more of these already, give them a try to enhance your website’s performance with ease. You’ll be glad you did!

Read more about Essential Word Press Plugins and download the infographic here.

How To Conduct a Comprehensive Website Audit

How To Conduct a Comprehensive Website Audit

Completing a regular website audit is among the best investments you can make in your online business.

Done quarterly, you get to monitor what’s working and what’s not. With this knowledge, you can continually improve your processes, services, and products.

Why wait to do a review once a year? No telling what insights you may miss in that amount of time! Not to mention the overwhelming chore the task becomes if left unattended for so long.

Reviewing your site’s performance regularly gives you the data you need to serve your audience exactly what they crave. You can be ready with answers to their pressing questions and solutions for their demanding problems.

You’ll be in a better position to reap the best results from your online business with every audit performed.

Is it Really That Important?

A comprehensive website audit is an examination of your website’s marketing performance. In addition to the technical aspects, such as SEO visibility and page speed, you’ll evaluate the impact your promotional campaigns are having on your target audience.

To optimize for overall performance, analyze both your site’s design and content strategy. Seek to uncover gaps where you can deliver a better user experience as well as more focused materials. Take a look at your website from different angles to see where it might be improved.

A comprehensive audit is not so difficult or time-consuming that you can’t do one at least every quarter. The time is well spent because you’ll check your traffic plus emerging trends in your sector. That information is required for you to stay on top of the needs of your audience.

Start With a Plan

Having a strategic plan of action before you begin makes it much easier to evaluate your website.

Review the goals you set for the period when you did your last assessment. Hopefully, you decided at that time which metrics you would measure to gauge their success.

Improved SEO results, increased audience engagement, and better conversion rates are all common business objectives that can be refined using information from this exercise.

You may need to use different key performance indicators (KPIs) every quarter, so don’t feel these must be set in stone.

Let’s begin with your content.

Conduct a Content Audit

It isn’t so overwhelming to conduct a comprehensive content audit if it’s broken down into phases. Try these suggestions.

Set up a simple spreadsheet with the information you’ll need to inventory and assess all your content. Your up-to-date editorial calendar is an invaluable tool when looking into your content’s metrics. It should provide you with all the details for each piece available through your site.

Along with the title, type and format of each piece of content, note its URL, buyer’s journey stage, author if you have more than one contributor, and the date of publication/last modification.

For auditing purposes, also collect the three metrics you’ve decided to analyze, along with columns for rating each item and recording notes or comments about that piece. Download our Content Asset Worksheet to get a head start.

With this information compiled, analyze your content assets from the point of your last audit to date. (Another reason to do this quarterly!) Notice any trends uncovered by the data, and make notes for future action.

For example, should a piece be repurposed or retired? Which articles would benefit from a stronger call-to-action (CTA)? Could your well-performing webinars be promoted and offered for another viewing? Can you plan upcoming initiatives around the best-performing topics? Are there broken or misdirected links that need updating?

Document your evaluation once completed. Use insights from this project to refine your content marketing.

Rejuvenate Your Content Strategy

Use your blog wisely. A blog is the centerpiece of every successful website. Readers continually demand fresh content and your blog is the best way to serve it to them.

Think of your postings as the specials on a restaurant menu. Serve assets for readers at every stage of the sales cycle. Some visitors want only an appetizer, but others are ready for your full course meal.

These are the ideal clients who have visited and developed a taste for your offerings over time. Don’t forget to add a couple of sweet enticements to keep them satisfied.

Deliver fresh content. Readers hunger for new and better information with every search request. Be alert to seasonal trends and use the freshest ingredients when designing your content.

Regularly providing resources that rely on the most trustworthy references in your niche is the best way to satisfy audience cravings.

You may need some help, so consider outsourcing some of your content creation to a ghostwriter competent in your market.

Even better is to keep your ears open to issues of concern in your industry. Use these insights to create enriching content that caters to your readers.

More Content Tips

Conduct a comprehensive website audit with these essential tips.

Conduct a comprehensive website audit with these essential tips.

Offer your content in several formats. Don’t forget to present your “specials” in different ways. Not every visitor has the taste for a 1,000-word blog post, so offer a podcast, short video or on-demand webinar for immediate consumption.

Check out your competitors. You don’t need to steal their recipes to get an idea of ways you might present your offerings that will appeal to your audience and give them a taste of something new.

Interact with your guests. Ever notice that the owners of the best restaurants get to know their regulars and make themselves available to all their clientele? They help their patrons feel welcome and comfortable, and you have to do the same.

In addition to analyzing your metrics, ask your visitors for their opinions on new initiatives. Customers will gladly share their ideas and let you know their feelings if given the chance.

And you’ll want to know about any glitches right away so you can eliminate them and keep your readers happy.

Conduct a Website Audit

A comprehensive audit also gives you the opportunity to fine-tune your website optimization activities. The information it reveals will guide you in enhancing your site for maximum performance, SEO, and conversion rates.

User experience is a foundation of high-performing websites. To maintain visitor enjoyment and comprehension, look at how well your site functions from a user’s standpoint. A little tweaking here and there can do wonders for your online business.

Strive to make it easy for your visitors to find what they’re searching for. Guide them with clear navigation and an intuitive flow from page to page.

Review your website as a visitor would to reveal small details that might be putting them off. Notice areas that could be improved to help your readers gain the most value from your offerings.

Have a trusted friend take a look and give you an honest review. They might see something you’ve overlooked.

Feed Your Audience’s Needs

How to know what to serve your visitors? It’s a lot harder to satisfy their cravings if you have no idea what they have a taste for.

When internet pickings were slim, people were happy with whatever crumbs of information or entertainment they found online. But these days, your visitors have access to websites from all over the world featuring a multitude of flavors. Stay in touch with your customer base to give your guests exactly what they’re hungry for.

Improve User Experience

Your website should be as easy to understand and as nice to look at as you can make it. Just like a fine meal, it should be a feast for the eyes as well as a satisfying experience.

Format your content with readers in mind. It’s difficult to read long pieces of content presented without breaks. Large blocks of words are overwhelming to the eye and put readers off. Use short paragraphs, subheadings, bolding, numbered lists, and other visual aids to keep the flow of your content attractive and easy to read.

Reduce the clutter. Go easy on your guest’s eyes. Don’t try to crowd everything onto a single page. Your images and designs can’t convey the desired effect if they’re crowding out your posts. Spread your content out to give your visitors a chance to digest it.

Use colors and placement to highlight information. Without contrast to break things up and draw the eye to certain areas of the page, your readers can easily gloss over important points in your presentation.

Review for typos. Nothing is more distracting than a website with spelling mistakes and missing words. Not only are such errors annoying, but they can also reduce your visitor’s understanding of the information you’re trying to convey.

Some readers will never come back if they sense you don’t care enough to give them a professional experience on your website. Thought leaders generally take more care and are rewarded with loyal followers as a result.

Presentation Is Key

When dining in a fine restaurant, the presentation is just as important as the flavors of the meal. And fast food takeout is packaged for quick and easy consumption, even on the road. The delivery is appropriate to the user’s needs. Make sure your website does the same.

It’s up to you to decide the type of brand you represent and your website must follow suit. The smallest details are those that can make or break your business.

Imagine what your visitors would think if they found your website riddled with spelling errors and broken links. The only recommendations they might give would be for laughs at your expense.

Whatever your product or service, the presentation must be appealing and inviting to entice visitors and keep them coming back.

Final Thoughts

Periodic website audits can uncover weaknesses in your online recipe. They’re your best insurance against driving your ideal clients to abandon your site in search of more appetizing selections.

Presenting your audience with valuable information served in a beautiful setting shows them you care enough to pay attention to detail. They’ll appreciate the time you’ve taken to give them what they’re looking for delivered in a way they can appreciate.

Carve out some time to conduct a comprehensive website audit with these essential tips in mind. Download our Content Audit Worksheet and adapt it for your use. Then let us know what you think in the Comments!

References: Content Marketing Institute, SEMrush Blog, HubSpot Blog