My 5 Favorite Social Media Marketing Productivity Tools

By now it's no secret that I'm a straight up social media nerd.

I love social media and its ever-morphing possibilities (even though I probably didn't need to see the zebra version of you on Snapchat.) The only social network that I ever resisted was Myspace--which was the first one all my friends joined when I was a freshman in college. Ever since that day I finally, begrudgingly crossed over to the dark side and chose my Top 8 I have been hooked. But never did I imagine back in 2005 when we all joined Facebook and wrote on one another's "walls" that these "social networks" would one day be a substantial part of my career. 

Now I use social media every single day at work. And not only have dozens of social networks popped up over the years, but a ton of productivity tools have been created along with them that help those of us who use social media to communicate ideas and market products and services do so much more efficiently. So today I thought I'd share with you my five favorite tools to get more done on social media faster and with greater ease. 

My 5 Favorite Social Media Marketing Productivity Tools

1. Buffer 
Buffer gives you the opportunity to consistently publish helpful, interesting content without logging into a social network every time you post. Buffer is a great tool to use if you curate content for an audience. I use it to spread out my social media posts and easily share content that I've found that I think my audience would enjoy. See an interesting article that would be helpful to your audience? Just tap the Buffer button and it will automatically share it on your designated social channels at a time you previously selected. You can drip valuable content out to your audience without having to log in every time you post. Buffer is available on your phone or computer.

2. Nuzzel
Scrolling through your social feeds in search of good content to reshare is not the best use of your time. Use Nuzzel. Nuzzel is a daily digest of the most shared articles on your Twitter feed. If you follow people and accounts that provide valuable content to you this will be a treasure trove of the best articles and shares of the day. And if you are a content curator you can scroll through, click on the articles that would be relevant to your audience, then schedule them in Buffer. Easy.

3. Pocket
I’m constantly coming across articles I want to “save for later.” (Many of them from my Nuzzel digest!) Instead of keeping 15 tabs open on Chrome I save articles in Pocket by using the Pocket Chrome extension.
Pocket is like a virtual version of that “read later" pile on your desk or night stand. When I get a second (at the airport or while dinner is cooking, for example) I open the Pocket app on my iPhone and there’s a self-curated list of articles I’ve been wanting to read. Perfect! (And so much less mindless than scrolling through Facebook or Twitter.)

4. Canva
This is my favorite tool to create clean, appealing, text-based images very quickly (see above!). With templates in every kind of image dimension possible (Facebook post, Instagram post, Pinterest image, etc, etc) it takes the guesswork out of creating images that are optimized for each platform. It’s too easy not to use. I never really understood you, Photoshop, and now I don’t have to! #Winning

5. Tweetdeck
This is my favorite service for getting a quick glance at several Twitter accounts at once. I never miss a notification and I’m able to schedule tweets with images very easily through Tweetdeck. 
Honorable mention: Hootsuite (for social listening). 

Social media can of course be a huge time suck. But there are ways to use it well and to speed up the amount of time it takes to share your story. Do you have any favorite SMM productivity tools? If so, I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

And if you liked this post you'll really like my eBook, More in Less: 21 Productivity Hacks for Creatives. It's all about giving you tools and strategies so you can create more space to, well, create! Grab it here.

3 Ways to Optimize Pinterest to Get Noticed and Gain Followers

It’s a first here on the blog! Today we get the pleasure of a guest post from Carrie Waller of Dream Green DIY. In my efforts to provide more valuable content to you guys, I’m including some guest posts that will help you up your game on social media. With almost 50,000 Pinterest followers, Carrie is the best person I know to share about how to grow a following on Pinterest. Welcome, Carrie! 

Thanks for the warm welcome, Hilary! I'm thrilled to be here and to share a few quick and easy tips for maximizing your reach and influence on Pinterest. This social platform is one of my favorites for a number of reasons (beautiful room photos, cute cat pictures—oh, my!), and because of this, it has actually been one of the easiest for me to grow in the past five years. All it takes is a little bit of authentic passion—which, I imagine, most of you already have—and some strategic planning as you pin. Read on for my tried and true tricks, but I'm also curious to hear your perspective, so do share your own strategies in the comments!

1. Choose your board covers with care. 

Although some of my boards are group boards and I don’t have access to customizations like board covers, switching out those lead images can do wonders for the overall look of your account. I go in about once a month to change the cover images on my boards because I think it adds freshness to the overall look of my feed.

Take care to choose an image that crops well, and think about the overall color scheme you want to show off to your followers. I like to treat my Pinterest feed like my Instagram—I only pin images that match my bright white/bright colors aesthetic so that I can create that “branded” look whether you’re looking at my Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook profiles. To change your cover photos, click on “Edit” at the bottom center of each board, and then click the “Change” button next to “Cover.” Scroll through the options with the arrow, and then click “Save Changes.”

2. Fill your about section with useful information.

Another piece of your profile to pay close attention to and to keep updated over time is your “About” section. This is the first place that prospective followers will check to figure out who the heck you are, so make sure to include the big ticket items: your name, your job title and blog name (if applicable), other identifying titles and places where people can find you, and your location. You can add your URL in a separate box in the profile editor, so you don’t need to worry about including that in your “About” paragraph.

I include my name, my blog name, plus all of the places where I contribute my freelance writing, and then finish with my city, and state. I also just recently added my email and Snapchat handle to encourage more engagement there.

To edit your profile, just click on the “Edit Profile” button in the top right corner and enter your info in the window that pops up. I like to sync up my various profile copy between Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter so that my collective profile descriptions feel cohesive. Oh, and don’t forget to add a smiling headshot to your profile, too, so that people can put a face to your name!

3. Don’t forget to pin your own content.

Like most creative bloggers and content creators, Pinterest is my top referrer for new readers. This is where my projects have the best chance of going “viral” thanks to the huge following that Pinterest garners, not to mention the search-ability (which I’ll cover in the next bullet item). So, as you work to create original, high-quality content on your blog or website, don’t forget to pin it to your own Pinterest feed! By strategically adding your projects to the mix, you have the opportunity to share it with, really, the entire world.

I see the most success with this methodology when I pin to shared boards. These special group boards feature a whole slew of creatives with their own followings, which exponentially increases the likelihood of a viral pin.

If you aren’t part of any group boards, I would encourage you to put yourself out there and search around for a group board that fits your niche and style, and then try reaching out to the board leader (shown in the first circle on the left). My favorite group boards are BHG’s Best DIY Ideas, Blogger’s Best DIY Ideas, and DIY Bloggers in case you want to follow along or see examples of this.

Are you all about Pinterest? What are your favorite uses for Pinterest? 

For more great tips from Carrie on maximizing the opportunity of Pinterest, check out her blog and read the full post here! She’s also written extensively on Snapchat. Check it out here and here

7 Surprising Ways to Use Hashtags

Hashtags have infiltrated the culture. In fact, there's a new generation that doesn't even see a pound sign. So, other than #liveauthentic and ironic quips, are hashtags actually useful? 

If you're building a brand and have a specific message to spread, then the answer is "yes."

Hashtags amplify messages and help to tell stories in ways that media hasn't previously seen. When paired with other tools like video and images, hashtags illuminate perspectives we most certainly never would have experienced. Think front row seats to not only your friend's wedding across the country but to global events like the Olympics.

So how can you use hashtags, in practical terms, today? Here are seven ways. 

7 Surprising Ways to Use Hashtags

1. Hashtags can be used to expose you to new audiences on Instagram. Hashtags can be used to find new images or to expose your work to a new, relevant audience.

2. Hashtags are integral to Twitter chats. Did you know there are tons of organized conversations on Twitter around specific topics on just about any subject? Twitter chats help you connect with others around a given topic. It’s a great way to grow your audience and contribute to relevant conversations. 

3. Show your audience more of your brand by adopting your own hashtag. This is a great way to not only brand each of your Instagram posts but also for your fans to get involved and share their photos of your product or event.

4. Use trending hashtags to increase views on your tweets. Do you have something relevant to add to a trending topic on Twitter? Using a hashtag that already has a lot of eyes on it means your tweet will be exposed to more people.

5. Encourage fans to use your hashtag. Build community with brand loyalists by encouraging them to adopt and own the hashtag. 

6. Use hashtags across social media channels, connecting your message across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and even YouTube.

7. Utilize hashtags for social listening. Determine which hashtags and keywords people are using when they are talking about a topic relevant to you. For example, in my work with Broadway shows, we regularly monitor hashtags and keywords that include names of our lead performers and alternate spellings of show titles. 

Social media, as a whole, affords pretty incredible opportunities to find and connect with people who are interested in what you have to offer. I encourage you to try using hashtags in a new way and see what kind of results you get. 

What's the biggest win you've experienced thus far using hashtags?

Mine are finding people with similar interests on Twitter because of Twitter chats + seeing my own wedding from about a hundred different angles. #Hilos1021 if you're curious. ;-)

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Hilary's Tuesday Social Media Tip 003: Why are you on social media?

This week I'm back with another quick video with a social media tip and a challenge! 

It's so easy to get bogged down and focused on things like number of likes, number of followers, or how often we are posting. But let's not get distracted.

The real name of the game is lead generation, growing our email list, increasing brand awareness, or fill in the blank with your goal of choice.

We'll never know if we hit it out of the park if we don't know what we're aiming for. Why are you on Linkedin? Instagram? Twitter? Facebook? Periscope? Having a lot of followers is great. Posting regularly is great. But do you know what you want to achieve? Get crystal clear on who you want to reach and what action you want them to take. That is Step 1 in achieving your goals on social media. 

Do you ever feel a little confused about your purpose on any given platform?