Hey there and welcome back for Week 27 of the 2018 photography challenge! This week’s prompt explores the concept of imitation, so what better way to emulate a local photographer than to perform some Detroit photography?

Flattery

They say imitation is the highest form; so, past or present; choose your favorite master photographer and imitate their art or technique.

Vision

This category is designed to push you to go beyond sight, to insight; to take inspiration and make it a reality. Vision exists in your imagination and is revealed your photographs; expressing something otherwise invisible. Developing a Vision for your work is showing to others what you see in your mind’s eye.

Gary Washington’s Photography Work

Washington was born in Detroit and grew up in Pontiac Michigan. His inspiration for photography began when opportunity struck through an offer to work abroad for a few months. According to Washington’s website, “I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to buy a nice camera like my older brother (he is the same person who inspired me to practice and keep taking pictures). Not even realizing, a passion for photography would grow out of the experience.”

He typically shoots architecture, landscapes and anything else that catches his eye with an expansive portfolio of work that captures various cultures abroad.

“Traveling abroad was nerve wrecking for my family at the time; especially with all of the uncertainties in the world. But for me it was exciting and something new,” wrote Washington. “I genuinely love learning about other cultures. I am intrigued by their food, music, language and lifestyles. Along the way I have met a lot of wonderful people, we laugh, eat and enjoy life. These types of experiences are irreplaceable to me.”

In Washington’s portfolio lies numerous landscape and architecture photos. His color style varies from vibrant to grayscale, but what caught my eye was one of his pieces painted on a wall in the Renaissance Center in Detroit, shot in grayscale with the Transcending monument at the forefront of the composition.

Symbolism of the Transcending Monument in Detroit

Detroit Photography Gary Washington Photo Transcending Monument
This is the photo that Gary Washington shot for the GM Renaissance Center photo contest.

Transcending is a monument dedicated to the labor movement in Michigan, comprised of two steel beams weighing 30 tons affixed to meet in the center at the top of the monument. However, there is a gap at the top, symbolizing the work that still needs to be done in the movement.

The symbolism in his photo is striking, especially with the Ren Cen in the background of the composition and the American flag waving in the wind.

I decided to recreate the composition based on another photo that Washington shot for a photo contest held by the Renaissance Center, standing in about the same spot that I assume Washington had stood in for the contest.

While I recreated the composition, I decided to add my own flair to the photo in post-editing that contrasts Washington’s urban grayscale photography style.

Detroit Photography Gary Washington Photo Transcending Monument Header Photo
Here's my own rendition of Gary Washington's work.

Photo Edits for the Detroit Photography Prompt

If you didn’t check out my photo edits video, below are the color edits I made for the photography challenge:

Last week I decided to cancel my Adobe Subscription. My student discount ran out this year, hiking the overall price up to $50 a month which I felt was an unnecessary expense given that I use most of the programs sparingly every month.

As a replacement I picked up a license key for Luminar, which is an alternative to Adobe Lightroom (I’ll have to do a comparison post on the two programs as I use Luminar more). Overall I’m really impressed with how easy it is to navigate alongside the plethora of filters and color correction options available.

Two filters that I used were the Golden Hour filter, which makes the color scheme look as if I shot at sunset, and Sunrays, which mimics a sunburst effect in the photo.

As far color correction goes I didn’t perform much selective color edits, mainly reducing the yellows in the trees to bring out a more vibrant green feel to the photo. Normally I would try to reduce the yellows and the greens, but with the greens subdued there really isn’t much vibrance to the photo other than the blue of the sky.

The Transcending monument and the Renaissance Center are both an industrial gray, which doesn’t pop despite the reduction in background colors. I played with a grayscale version of the photo but wasn’t pleased with how it turned out, so I stuck with my saturated/vibrant color editing style this time around.

Overall I’m really pleased with how the photo turned out and I’m also excited to play with some of the other features that are available in Luminar.

Detroit Photography Conclusion

What did you think of this week’s photography challenge? I would love to hear your feedback in the comment’s section below! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out last week’s photography challenge where I explored how to perform Low Key Photography.

With the growing popularity of Instagram Stories peaking at 400 million users, Facebook is expanding reach options by introducing Facebook story ads in its Stories feature.

While the number of Stories users on Facebook is significantly lower than its sister platform at 150 million, many advertisers are looking to diversify to other platforms due to the costly advertising on Instagram.

At Facebook’s latest F8 developer conference, several Facebook executives including Mark Zuckerberg believe the Stories format will overtake the Newsfeed as the most popular feature of the platform.

As noted on Facebook’s Business page:

“The rise of stories is clear: people want fast, immersive and fun ways to share photos, videos and text with their friends and family—and stories offer just that. People use stories to share and discover content they’re interested in for movements as big as Pride and moments as small as the coffee they’re drinking. We designed stories on our platforms to fulfill people’s need to interact and share in engaging and playful ways on the vertical screen.”

Stories are a great way on social media to allow users to share those small moments without clogging newsfeeds, spending a significant amount of time editing photos and crafting the perfect caption.

“We launched Instagram Stories back in August 2016, and saw how quickly people adopted the format. Every day, 400 million Instagram accounts use Instagram Stories.1 And the success of Instagram Stories showed us that stories, and camera-based messaging, are experiences that people are craving. This led us to roll out stories in Messenger in 2017, and on Facebook and WhatsApp soon after. Since then, we’ve seen people embrace stories across our platforms. There are now over 150 million people using Facebook Stories2 and 450 million people using WhatsApp Status every day.

The Rising Popularity of FB Story Ads

With the rising popularity of the Stories format, it only makes sense for Facebook to offer marketers a new way to reach their audience as a “pay to play” platform for business efforts. Interestingly enough Facebook cites one-third of the most viewed Instagram stories to be from businesses that are achieving results with that type of ad format:

“For example, Tropicana ran video ads in Instagram Stories for its summertime product promotion campaign, achieving an 18-point lift in ad recall and 15-point lift in purchase intent among males. OpenTable used ads in Instagram Stories to drive online restaurant reservations, resulting in a 33% lower cost per reservation compared to other ad formats. And Overstock ran video ads in Instagram Stories to acquire new customers and increase sales, and generated an 18% higher return on ad spend and a 20% decrease in cost per acquisition.”

It’s standard to see lower CPMs for any new ad placement format as advertisers are competing for less space for their ad placements. However, marketers are viewing the new ad placement opportunity on Facebook as opportunistic rather than strategic, especially as the platform appeals to an older demographic in comparison to Instagram.

Best Practices For Facebook Story Ads

Facebook Story Image Ads run for 5 seconds long and are skippable to ensure a successful rollout of the new advertising feature. Design best practices recommend leaving roughly 250 pixels, or 14%, of the top and bottom of the image free from text and logos to avoid covering up your profile icon or call-to-action buttons. The image ratio should be 1.91 to 9:16, a 600x600 image size and less than 20% of text.

You can include the following supported objectives:

As well as the following CTA buttons:

You can also craft Facebook Video Story Ads that run between 5-15 seconds long. Most file types are supported, but Facebook recommends a H.264 compression with square pixels and a file size of 4GB max.

For more information regarding Facebook Ad best practices, be sure to check out their Business Page when creating an ad or a mockup.

Facebook Story Ads Wrap-Up

It’s interesting to see the social media space slowly offering more and more advertising features to reach a larger audience, especially as many viewers and listeners of traditional methods of advertising find television and radio to be bloated with ads.

As new generations grow up in the digital age, they’re becoming more accustomed to businesses saturating their newsfeeds with retargeted ads, whereas older generations find them to be somewhat intrusive. It’ll be interesting to see what the reception is like as Facebook Story Ads become more prevalent, but it’s a good move on Facebook’s part to make them skippable as a lot of users tend to bounce from a video when an ad roll pops up halfway through the video.

What are your thoughts on Storied Ads making their way onto Facebook? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Using SEMRush for keyword research is considered to be the holy grail by many digital marketers. Whether you’re keeping tabs on the competition, performing on-page and off-page search engine optimization or determining bidding amounts on keyword phrases, SEMRush has an answer to just about any question you might have when it comes to stepping up your digital marketing game. However, for the freelance digital marketer it can be costly with monthly subscriptions starting at a little more than $100 a month, encouraging users to search for a SEMRush alternative that doesn’t break the bank. In my research I stumbled upon Keysearch, a keyword research seo tool that offers much of the same functionality as SEMRush for a fraction of the cost at just $17 a month.

How To Use Keysearch

While Keysearch isn’t as robust as SEMRush or Ahrefs for updating old content for SEO, it offers the core essentials for a digital marketer looking to perform on-page SEO or competitive analysis to effectively rank for keywords. As you might know, most web traffic still comes from organic search and a significant portion of clickthrough’s are on the first search engine results pages, making it of vital importance that your web pages are at least ranking on the first page of Google or Bing.

When performing research on keywords you want to rank for, the first step is to look at low competition, long tail keyword phrases that garner a decent chunk of monthly web traffic. Some digital marketers will enter phrases into the Google search results to see what popular phrases come up and then use Google Search Console to determine the monthly traffic of those keywords, which can sometimes be inaccurate and time consuming.

Keysearch Browser Extension Tool

Keysearch offers a browser extension that lists related search term phrases along with their monthly volume, CPC and PPC, saving time in determining what keyword phrase you want your web page to rank for when you’re in the first stages of crafting it.

Once you have a selected keyword phrase, it’s a matter of plugging it into the Keysearch platform for a quick SERP Analysis, which shows you what the keyword difficulty is for that phrase along with the pages that are currently ranking on the first page for that keyword phrase.

Keysearch Keyword Research Tab

Keyword Checker Tool

Keysearch is great because it shows a competition score on a scale of 0-100 for that keyword and if your website has a chance at effectively competing for that phrase in its Keyword Difficulty Checker Tool. As an example, the term “semrush alternative” has a monthly volume of 1300 and a competitive score of 35, making it a great term to compete for when performing my on-page optimization for this article. If the term was highly competitive, Keysearch displays similar keyword phrases that you can filter for the number of keywords, CPC, PPC and competitive score. It also shows in the dashboard other related search term phrases and the web pages that are currently ranking in the top 10 search results on Google.

Keysearch Quick Difficulty Checker

Keyword Analyzer for SERP Analysis

Keysearch SERP Analysis Chart

For the SERP Analysis of the dashboard, Keysearch displays the following rankings for the sites you’re trying to outrank for a keyword phrase:

The main question that should come to mind when performing on-page SEO is “Can I create better content that’s more optimized than that of my competitors?” which makes the SERP Analysis portion of Keysearch the cornerstone of your keyword research.

You can export a CSV or a PDF file containing the details about the Keyword found in the dashboard, as well as get Keyword data and keyword suggestions from Google Adwords Keyword Planner, YouTube Suggest, Bing Suggest, Keysearch Database and a few others.

Keysearch Quick Difficulty Tracker

Keysearch Quick Difficulty Checker 2

The Quick Difficulty Tracker Tool allows you to check the difficulty and volume for one keyword at a time, which can be a huge time-saver if you’re using the tool to bulk-check the difficulty of up to 50 keywords at once.

The Keyword Research portion of Keysearch also allows you to Brainstorm topics that are currently trending in the digital sphere. By typing an idea and Keysearch will aggregate the most popular Twitter and Google Trends, creating ideas for content that will resonate with your audience.

Keysearch Explorer and Backlink Checker

Keysearch Explorer and Backlinks Tool

One of the main uses of SEMRush is its ability to analyze a website to determine what keywords it’s ranking for, the number of backlinks it has, how it’s ranking and what its top competitors are in SERPs.

Keysearch offers this functionality; whether you’re using it for your own website or you’re looking to analyze your competitor, you can track your domain strength and what keyword score you can successfully compete for.

A gripe that I have with SEMRush is how it aggregates backlinks, which I’ve found to be somewhat inaccurate, whereas Keysearch seems to be more realistic in determining what Nofollow and Dofollow links you have pointed at your website when you're link building.

You can use Keysearch to filter and view 50, 100, 250, 1000 or all the backlinks at once alongside exporting the backlinks of any website or landing page.

Without going into the Google Search Console you can check to see what keywords your website is currently ranking for and how much estimated traffic your website should be receiving for those keywords.

It also provides a quick ranking distribution bar table to glance at for any ranking changes and optimization opportunities.

Competitive Analysis Tool

Keysearch Competitive Gap Analysis Tool

Like I mentioned earlier, Keysearch offers a competitive analysis tool to check specific backlinks, how you’re ranking in comparison to your competition with organic keywords, your competitor gap, URL metrics and a page analyzer feature.

Performing competitor analysis is extremely important when it comes to SEO and Keysearch will highlight what you both rank for, how you rank for those keywords and what your domain strength, or the quality of your website, is compared to that of the competition. By using the competitive analysis tool you can check to see what keywords your competition is ranking for that your site isn’t and perform on-page optimization accordingly.

The page analyzer feature is also helpful in performing on-page optimization and areas of opportunity beyond strictly content such as site load speed, on-page coding elements and keyword consistency.

YouTube Research

Keysearch YouTube Research Tool

If you’re trying to break into the digital video space, Keysearch has a Youtube Research tab that acts in a similar way to the Keyword Research portion of the dashboard. It comes with a table just like the Keyword Analysis Tool and will display the URLs of the videos you’re competing with along with other metrics like Video Age, Likes, Dislikes, Comments and if the keyword is in the title or description.

Like the Keyword Research Tool there is a quick difficulty checker and a keyword suggestion box with multiple keywords that you might want to consider.

Rank Tracking For SEO Efforts

Keysearch Rank Tracking Tool

Once you’ve created or updated your content, Keysearch has a Rank Tracking Feature where you can see if your optimization efforts are successful or not. Once you add a keyword and URL to this portion of the dashboard, Keysearch will track that page for any position changes for that keyword, showing you where you rank for that keyword, the monthly search volume and your page authority. You can also set it up to receive email notifications when there are any changes in ranking for that keyword.

Large spikes and drops are common in this portion of the tool, but that’s normal as Google likes to temporarily move your SERP positioning to see how it performs higher up in the rankings.

Keysearch Content Assistant Tool In Beta Testing

Keysearch Content Assistant Tool

A new feature that Keysearch is beta testing is its Content Assistant Tool. It’s great for plugging in a keyword phrase to see the average word count for the Google 1st page web page results and must have LSI keywords that are most commonly used within the 1st page results of Google. All you do is copy and paste your content into the dashboard and it will highlight keyword opportunities and how you stack up with the competition in the LSI keywords you have included in your content.

The Content Assistant Tool also highlights suggested keyword phrases to include in your URL or as sub-heads on your page, relevant content snippits from the SERP Top Pages, and popular questions found on your topic to also include as good sub-heads.

The Final Verdict

Keysearch is the perfect altnerative to SEMRush or Ahrefs. While SEMRush offers a more robust dashboard with a lot more features, Keysearch also offers much of the core essentials that are the staple to any optimization efforts. Both offer competition monitoring to take a quick look at the overall performance of your competition’s web presence such as keywords, where they rank and the value of those keywords. I find the backlinking feature of Keysearch to be more accurate than SEMRush, as I don’t entirely understand how SEMRush goes about compiling backlinks for websites. They both offer the ability to distinguish between worthy and spam backlinks that might be pulling down the credibility of your website and what kind of backlinks are drawing more traffic for you.

Keysearch offers many high-quality features to up your seo efforts with a simple dashboard design that’s beginner-friendly and user-oriented. The dashboard is user-friendly, you can sign up for a free trial to determine if it’s the right solution for you, they have an active support staff, multiple tutorial videos and are constantly updating their system to offer new tools and increasing search limits. Keysearch’s only pitfall is that the website title is not visible in the Search Results table, showing URLs instead of the webpage titles which makes for trickier comparisons. This is being rectified in the Content Assistant Tool, but it’s still in beta testing so that may change in the future.

Pricing For Keysearch

As far as pricing goes, Keysearch pricing is $17 per month or a discounted price of $169 per year for its starter pack, which gives you access to all of Keysearch’s features like 200 daily searches with analysis, 20 daily super searches and 80 rank tracker keywords. The pro pack costs $34 for the monthly subscription with a discounted annual price of $279, which provides 500 daily searches with analysis, 50 daily super searches and 200 rank tracker keywords, making it a much more cost-effective option when compared to Ahrefs or SEMRush. It's not difficult to find a Keysearch discount code, making the overall price even cheaper if you stumble upon a Keysearch coupon code.

What did you think of my Keysearch review? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Facebook succumbed to a security issue on Tuesday, Sept. 25 that affected the accounts of nearly 50 million FB users.

The security breach stemmed from a vulnerability in Facebook’s code for the “View As” feature, which is normally used to let people see what their profile looks like to another user.

“This allowed them[the cyber-attackers]  to steal Facebook access tokens which they could then use to take over people’s accounts,” Guy Rosen, VP of Facebook’s Product Management, wrote in a news release.  “Access tokens are the equivalent of digital keys that keep people logged in to Facebook so they don’t need to re-enter their password every time they use the app.”

As of this time of writing Facebook has fixed this vulnerability and informed law enforcement of the cyber-attack. Facebook also reset the access tokens of the 50 million accounts that were affected by the vulnerability, resulting in many users being signed out of their accounts, as well as reset the access tokens of 40 million other accounts that were looked up using the “View As” feature within the past year.

Actions Taken By Facebook

As the social media company investigates further into the issue they temporarily turned off the feature until a thorough security review has been conducted.

“This attack exploited the complex interaction of multiple issues in our code. It stemmed from a change we made to our video uploading feature in July 2017, which impacted “View As,” Rosen wrote. “The attackers not only needed to find this vulnerability and use it to get an access token, they then had to pivot from that account to others to steal more tokens.”

How Did The Vulnerability Happen?

The vulnerability caused by the video uploader bug exposed the access tokens in HTML, stemming from an update in the video uploader that allowed the “View As” feature to post a video in a content composer which specifically enables people to wish their friends happy birthday.

“When the video uploader appeared as part of View As, it generated the access token not for you as the viewer, but for the user that you were looking up,” wrote Pedro Canahuati, Facebook VP of Engineering, Security and Privacy.

By taking advantage of this vulnerability, attackers were able to pivot from that access token and obtain the access tokens of other accounts using the same method.

It is yet to be determined as to whether the affected accounts were misused, if any information was accessed or the identity of the involved parties behind the security breach.

Previous Facebook Security Breaches

Facebook has come under heavy flak in 2018 with the largest data breach in its history occurring through the leak of more than 87 million users that may have influenced the 2016 presidential election.

While the Cambridge Analytica scandal is the largest data privacy breach in Facebook’s history, other online marketers have abused the system in similar ways as written by Alexandria Samuel on The Verge:

“If Facebook’s generous access to friend data was known to many marketers and software developers, so was the tactic of disguising data grabs as fun apps, pages, or quizzes,” she wrote.

The article cites many references to marketers and the tactics they used to gain data from users on the platform, but Sam Weston, a communication consultant in digital marketing and market research, said “We were all conscious that friend data was accessible. I don’t think that anybody had perspective on the potential consequences until it was slotted into this news story, where the consequence may have been the election of Donald Trump.”

“It is actually stunning to think, with the clarity that perspective brings, that you could stand up the kind of ridiculous quiz or survey that they did and then walk away with psychographic profiles on 50 million Americans. Even for someone who worked in the field, [the Cambridge Analytica story] was a moment that gave you real pause to reflect on the business that we walked away from, but that was a massive part of the industry for a long time,” he continued later in the article.

Facebook is currently taking several actions to prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future including:

Hey there and welcome back for another week of the 2018 photo challenge! This week I went to a Michigan Cider Mill and snapped a few photos to break into the Fall season.

There are countless apple cider mills that are now open in Michigan, but my friends and I went to Plymouth Orchards and Cider Mill in Plymouth, Michigan. It was a relatively small cider mill with a petting zoo, an expansive farm, a pumpkin patch and a wide selection of baked goods to purchase.

Michigan Cider Mill Plymouth Orchards Apples Photo
Bags of fresh apples for sale at Plymouth Orchards and Cider Mill!

Plymouth Orchards and Cider Mill History

Plymouth Orchards and Cider Mill’s history goes back to 1977 as a woman-owned family business with Mary Emmett establishing the orchard as a “veritable touchstone for her community.” In 2013 the mill transitioned to become fully organic and it now boasts solar electric panels to produce up to 70 percent of the electricity it needs to function year-round.

My favorite aspect of the orchard was the baked goods with plenty of apples, donuts, fresh cider, apple pies and bread, caramel apples and honey combs. I spent my fair share on baked goods, drinking a half gallon of apple cider in one sitting and combining ice cream with heated apple pie for a delicious midnight snack. I'd highly recommend the doughnuts as well. The cider itself has earned various accolades including Michigan’s Best Apple Cider at the Great Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market and Greenhouse Growers Expo as well as a Best Cider Mill Donuts award.

Michigan Cider Mill Plymouth Orchards Farm Photo
A lot of land made for some great photo ops during the hay ride!

My Favorite Michigan Cider Mills

For my next trip I'll have to go to Yates Cider Mill, the Dexter Cider Mill or the Franklin Cider Mill to Michigan pick apples, head into a corn maze or choke down some hard cider, but the Plymouth Cider Mill is a free family-friendly mill that's good for a quick 30-minute adventure if you're looking for something to do.

Wiards and Apple Charlies are my personal favorites as the best apple orchards in Michigan, but there are other Michigan Cider Mills and apple orchards in Northern Michigan that could give them a run for their money to get the Fall season off to the right foot.

Michigan Cider Mill Photo Edits

Michigan Cider Mill Plymouth Orchards Goats Photo 2
The goats were adorable, but were quick to nip at your fingers if given the opportunity.

In terms of photo edits for this week, the weather conditions provided for some beautiful photos of the farm animals and the property that I shot during the tractor ride.

Here are the photo edits that I made for most of my photos in this week’s challenge in Adobe Lightroom:

While most of my edits are in line with what I do every week, I did play with desaturating certain colors to provide a more subdued look in the farm animal photos while increasing the saturation to make the landscape photos more vibrant.

Michigan Cider Mill Plymouth Orchards Goats Photo
The desaturation of the yellows in this photo really draws more focus on the goat.

My new camera, the Pentax K3 II, allows for a variety of color settings I can set to adjust the colors in my DNG files without me doing any kind of tweaking post-processing. I really like the more subdued look when subjects are involved and it’s an editing style that a lot of photographers are adopting.

The clarity of my photos with the new camera body is night and day compared to my Pentax K-50; it cost a pretty penny, but it was worth the investment (I also didn’t have much of a choice as my K-50 body started exhibiting symptoms of aperture failure during my trip up North to Hale, Michigan last August).

What did you think of the photos from this week’s photo challenge? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment’s section below along with your favorite cider mill! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out last week’s photo challenge where I explored tonal contrast with my favorite model or next week's low key lighting photography challenge. 

Hi there, welcome back for another exciting episode of Lounge Talk With Laz! This week's episode will be discussing interview tips and tricks that will help you ace a job interview. Let's just jump right into it.

Interview Tips and Tricks

So, in episode 16 I discussed job interview tips, going over the application process, how to spice up your resume, your Linkedin profile, your portfolio and in this week's episode, I wanted to take a chance to talk about the process for the phone interview, or the onsite interview, and how to stand out as an applicant for the position that you're applying for. This post will explore interview tips and tricks for students, phone interview tips and tricks and interview tips and tricks basic etiquette.

We will first start off with the phone interview and usually this is conducted by a senior recruiter for the company that you're applying for, and it's a little bit more high level overview just to kind of see if you're actually qualified for the role, and then just kind of review a bunch of information on your resume. This is more at this stage a screening process before they send the information that they get from the interview to the hiring managers or the team or to the department that you're applying for.

Typically a senior recruiter will ask you one or two questions that are job-specific for the role that you're applying for but for the most part, they'll kind of see based on your previous experiences, how you handle certain situations in the workplace. They also take the opportunity to explain to you more about the role and what is about and what it will entail and it's kind of an opportunity for you to ask a few questions yourself get a better feel for the company, and if you will mesh appropriately with their company culture, and vice versa.

So questions to consider during the phone interview itself would be, for example, what are some of the biggest challenges that you've faced and how have you created a solution to meet those challenges?

What are your biggest creative achievements or something that you're proud of in your previous positions and along with those kind of questions, they might throw in a few hypotheticals or maybe even some behavioral kind of questions. So, be on the lookout for those.

You can take a look into interviews on Glassdoor and it's a pretty robust place to look if the company is well known and it'll have previous applicants kind of displaying the types of questions that they were asked whether they were in a phone interview or the onsite interview, it's just a good way to prep. So that way, you're not kind of floundering when somebody catches you off guard when they ask their questions. So be sure to take a look on that site and be prepared.

I found in my interviewing experience that the phone interviews themselves will only last about 15 minutes or so and a good portion of them will just kind of be you reiterating what's already listed on your resume and giving a little bit more of an elevator pitch to the recruiter that you're speaking with regarding what you did in the past and some of your achievements or accolades about yourself.

So be sure to keep it in between the one to two-minute mark for your elevator pitch and just kind of giving them a brief but decent overview of what you have done in your professional experience thus far to make that good first impression.

Interview Tips and Tricks Basic Etiquette

The Best Interview Tips and Tricks To Ace An Interview Glassdoor Interview Questions Prep

Two tips for the phone interview is make sure that you are friendly when you're speaking with the recruiter. Obviously they can't really see your body language, because they're talking with you on the phone, so be sure to smile throughout the interview and by smiling and kind of having a more energetic demeanor of sorts. It's a good way to kind of project that over the phone and it is noticeable if you are not smiling when you are doing the phone interview, so just be sure to smile and it'll reflect in your tone when you're speaking with the recruiter.

The other tip would be to come prepared to the phone interview with a couple of questions to ask a recruiter towards the end along with a good understanding of the job description. It's honestly one of the worst things in the world. If they ask you any questions and you say “No, I'm good,” so you can either take a look into company news, to kind of see what's been going on there. And you can I ask a little bit more specific questions or you can kind of keep it more high level and ask some things like what are the biggest challenges of the department so far? How did this position come to be open? What are the next steps in the interview process, those sort of things and you can ask maybe between three to five of them and save other questions for the on-site interview if they do decide to move forward. Some companies may do a follow-up phone call with the hiring manager, or a person from the department that you be working for and this might come in the form of a a video call or what have you, and again the same rules pretty much apply as to the previous phone interview and it's not until you get to the on-site interview that you're kind of in the final stretch with the on-site interviews themselves.

Those are much more rigorous obviously than the phone interview, some companies will only have you interview with the hiring manager, or potentially a team lead for the department, while other companies will have you sit on a panel of two to three hiring managers and team leads.

I found, personally, that I enjoy panel interviews to build rapport, more than just talking to an individual person, but they can be a little more nerve-wracking.

What are some tips and tricks I should know before going into an interview?

The Best Interview Tips and Tricks To Ace An Interview Relax Interview Prep Advice

You'll find advice all over the internet that tries to tell you, “Hey, don't be nervous, be relaxed, and confident," everyone knows this and it's really hard to kind of exude that demeanor, especially because you're applying for a job that you really want and you're speaking with obviously experienced veterans in the field. Hopefully you would be at least.

And again, it can be really nerve-racking, so what I have found for me to kind of calm the nerves is before the interview, if you have the opportunity to go take a walk outside, go do some physical activity, or even just change up your surroundings. Go take a walk in the woods or in a park somewhere. It really is a good way to kind of calm the nerves. And I found that at least with walking allows your subconscious to kind of work things out internally and then kind of projects to your actual conscious in a weird way, if that makes any kind of sense.
So if you're kind of thinking about things too much, and stressing out and you're trying to figure out some potential problems that could arise if the interview... it's a good way for your subconscious to kind of help you problem solve, or the very least just kind of calm your nerves.

The other thing, too, is obviously you wanna be on your A game when it comes to the on-site interview and a lot of people will take caffeine or even the nicotine gum or things like that, in order to be at the most mental clarity as they can and to be the most alert. But this is actually a really bad idea, if you're taking those things like an hour before the actual interview.

In the morning I guess that's fine, but caffeine and to lesser extent nicotine gum in general, they will give you the jitters of sorts and they will actually make you more nervous. So I would definitely recommend avoiding those. If you're about to head into the interview in an hour or two in order to operate at your best and be at your best, you should get a good night's sleep the night before and try to get maybe eight or nine hour to sleep, don't spend all night cramming and doing research for the interview and prepping for potential questions they could ask, or that sort of thing, the day before. Because you're gonna be up, awake, you're gonna be nervous and it's going to filter into the next day, and you're not gonna be at your best performing.

When you do go into the actual interview try to arrive about 15 minutes early and some people will scope out the location beforehand, so that way they can kind of time traffic, how long it takes them to get there and they know exactly where they're walking to for the interview itself.

And even if you're showing up really early, I wouldn't walk up to the front desk and be like, "I'm an hour early for this interview at three o'clock,” I would just hang out, go take a walk around or sit in your car, look over some notes and check in about 15 minutes early.

How Should I Prepare For My First Interview?

The Best Interview Tips and Tricks To Ace An Interview First Impressions Photo

Obviously, first appearances are everything. So when you go to the interview, you should be dressed appropriately. Some companies, it really depends on the actual dress code. So even if the company dress code is blue jeans and a t-shirt, you should still show up over-dressed rather than under-dressed.

I personally always play it safe and wear a sports jacket, and tie, dress pants, dress shoes, and I'm not really sure what the dress code is for girls, but they could be to the same effect going off of first appearances. You do want to walk in and again kind of have that display of confidence, even if you are nervous on the inside. Be sure to make eye contact, smile shake the hands of your interviewers and kind of have that similar demeanor, even when you're speaking with the receptionist.

Interestingly enough, some companies will factor in how you greet the receptionist when you come to check in, so whoever you're meeting or talking to, even if it's just a receptionist or just a random employee walking down the hallway at a company that you're interviewing at... you should just greet them warmly, smile, make eye contact, ask how their day's going, and even just make small talk, as you're walking to the interview or the conference room.

And make sure there's no weird awkward silences of sort; build that rapport and that demeanor even as you're walking into the conference room, because a little goes a long way in my opinion at this stage of the game.

With the onsite interview, the company already kind of knows that you or any of the other applicants that have made it to the stage or qualified for what it is that you're applying for and it's really just a matter of making sure that the applicants fit the company culture, and that they would fit well with the team and that this is a person that you would want to work with every single day and not someone who comes in very hum-drum gloomy, that they are very communicative or team-oriented, that sort of thing.

Psychological interview tips and tricks for controlling body language

Once you get to the conference room where you will be holding the interview again with demeanor and your body language, just be sure to be kind of laid back. A few interviewing tips and tricks that I've noticed help me when I am interviewing is kind of leaning back in my chair, keeping more of an open posture and not necessarily crossing my legs but kind of doing an American-style like cross where your ankles are resting on your knee of sorts, in that way, it kind of helps to make sure that I'm not fidgeting under the table and bobbing my foot or my leg up and down and appearing anxious or nervous.

I'll also clasp my hands in front of me so again that way I'm not exhibiting fidget or nervous behavior. One thing I did forget to mention earlier is that when you get to the on-site interview be sure to have a satchel or something professional... to carry a note pad and a folder with extra copies of your resume. I've heard that backpacks are actually considered to be that unprofessional walking into the onsite interview itself, so avoid backpacks at all costs.

And once you sit down obviously you pull out your folder with your extra copies of resumes, make sure that your hiring managers or the interviewers do you have copies of your resume to reference throughout the interview and then you can either go down notes on your note pad, beforehand, regarding the company and any news or things to reference back to or have your questions written out on the second or the third page to reference once you get to the end of the interview.

Once you get to the actual interview is important to reference Glassdoor, and make sure that you're kind of aware of the procedure of the interview and kind of having a rough idea as to what to expect and being prepped for the potential questions that are going to be thrown your way throughout the onsite interview. Usually with a panel, the onsite interview will last maybe you between 30 minutes to an hour or with an individual hiring manager, they might last about 30 minutes, but be sure to get comfortable and prepared for the long haul, so to speak.

What is the best trick to crack an interview?

The Best Interview Tips and Tricks To Ace An Interview Glassdoor STAR Method to Answer Interview Questions Photo

Regarding great interview tips and strategies, with the onsite interview itself hiring managers will ask you a combination of hypothetical questions, behavioral questions, and just kind of touching base on your elevator pitch for your resume and an anything that you've highlighted there. So at least for the behavioral and the hypothetical questions you should have your answers phrased in a way that incorporates the star method.

Great Interview Tips and Strategies

The star method is a structured manner of responding to behavioral based interview questions by discussing the specific situation, task, action and results. Just as an open-ended example I've been asked by interviewers in the past, if I've come across any challenges with my clients and if so how I addressed those challenges and using the star method you could say with my situation that my clients had a drop-off year over a year with their digital metrics and so the task for that would be to analyze their metrics, see where they dropped off and then discuss with my clients, new ideas or ways in order to boost or increase those metrics year over year.

And then you would describe your action that you took in order to produce results. So as an example with my client on social media, they experienced a drop off year over year of 30 percent and so I sat down and discussed with them creating a social media calendar that was catered to their audiences patterns of traffic and just creating more consistent weekly content using photos and videos rather than just text-based posts and by doing something like that.

The results showed a 50 percent increase week over week for their social media presence on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and then a month over month result produced a 15-20 percent increase from that same time period the year before.

I came just came up with that off the top of my head just now, but highlights the situation, the task, the action that you took and the results that came from that action. Then you want it to be a short, sweet, concise, between 30 seconds to a minute long answer in response to your question, and when you are providing examples, or answering questions from your interviewers make sure that you are never painted in a negative light or a negative result, and that you aren't speaking poorly of any clients or any of the previous companies that you have worked for.

I have been asked quite a few times as to why I applied for the open position, or why I would be leaving a previous job to apply for a new one with this company. And the biggest mistake that people make is just rambling on about how terrible their previous company was. And you need to come up with a professional answer such as that you're looking for new opportunities, or that it's an issue of breadth versus depth, where you want to become more skilled in one or two areas rather than having a general high level overview knowledge of many different things, or that you are looking to continue or further your professional road map and that your current position with your company just isn't allowing for that and that there isn't any advancement available pertaining to what you want to do in the future, that sort of thing.

And again, as you're answering the questions, make sure to make eye contact, smile when appropriate and it never hurts to take a few moments to kind of ponder, or think thoroughly through your answer to a question from your interviewer. If it's a kind of a brain buster kind of question it never hurts to ask your interviewer, if you can take a few seconds to kind of think it through and you can also kind of write down the question that they ask on your note pad, and then it's always a good thing to ask follow-up questions or just clarify with your interview or certain elements to the question. So that way you have a more thought out and formulated a response that will adequately satisfy whatever they were looking for.

Interviewing isn't always about knowing the right answer

Interviewing Isn't Always About Knowing The Right Answer

And with a lot of hypothetical or behavioral-based questions interviewers aren't necessarily looking for the right answer, and that there might not be a right answer, they're really looking just to see your thought process and how you handle questions or think things through and get a better idea as to your mindset is going into situations.

Again they will know that you are skilled or qualified enough to have made it to the onsite interview and that they are very interested in you to be spending about 30 minutes to an hour over their day doing the interview with you and again, just to see your mindset, your process, and to see if you mesh well with the company culture.

Once you get to the end of the interview, and it comes time to ask them questions then be sure to have your questions laid out. Ask between five to ten of them and again asked them things that are related to company news that are specific. Don't just have very generalized questions but be specific and what you're asking and just again, treat it as if you're trying to get more insight into the company or that you are even interviewing the interviewers of sorts.

So be sure to take notes and write down their responses, that way it looks like you are a very serious about the responses and that you do have quite a bit of interest in the company itself and that you're not just kind of sitting there dozing off as they’re giving you their formulated answers, in response to your own questions that you have about the company at the end of the interview.

So if you have business cards you can always hand them to your interviewers as another way to stay in touch and connect. Be sure to again, thank them for their time shake their hands, smile, make eye contact. And if the interview went relatively well good indicators are that they do give you their business card, they will show you around the office or again, they'll just kind of walk you to the door instead of saying, "Okay well, see you” and then just leave the room because that's happened to me before, and it's like, "Oh well, I must not have done a good job at this interview” if that happened.

A few unique interview tips are to make the interviewers visualize yourself in the role, so I ask them questions like, “let's say you do deciding before with this process. And I come in for my first day, sit down and at my desk, hang on my coat turn on my computer, what's the rest of my day look like in this role” or even just asking them to show you around the office or the work place that you would be working in and it's a good way to, again, have them visualize you in the shoes of the role already, and make an easier fit for when they are choosing between applicants and candidates.

Following up with interviewers after the interview

For the position that you're playing for after the interview is over, if you do have the contact information of the interviewers that you interviewed with then you can pop them an email and say, very short and sweet, “Thank you for interviewing me” and kind of discuss what you learned more about the company based on the interview that you hadn't considered and that you would definitely enjoy working with a company in the position. Or if you flopped up on a question that they had asked you in the interview, you can take a moment in that thank you letter or email and say,

You can extrapolate or expand upon the question, that you flubbed up on and give a more in-depth answer, based on a little pontification or further thought after the interview itself.

And if the interviewers didn't give you their contact information, then you can reach out to the Senior Recruiter and ask them if you can write this email and have him or her forward it over to those interviewers. People think that thank you emails don't really impact anything while others say that it might be what tips you over the edge and gives you that competitive advantage over other applicants and keeps you fresh in the minds of the interviewers. So my thought is that it can’t hurt unless you really screw up the email and just keep it short and sweet and again, it might be the determining factor that makes you a little bit more thought of in a positive light, if you are competing against a very similar candidate of sorts.

How long should I wait to reach out if I haven't received a job offer after an interview?

Usually with the hiring process it might take between one or two weeks for the hiring managers to kind of get together and review the applications or the applicants and all of the information that they've compiled to choose the right person for the job. So I would wait maybe between one to two weeks.

And if you haven't heard anything back, then I'd reach out to the recruiters and just kind of ask for an update regarding the hiring process and where they're at with their decision.

And if more than three weeks or even a month have passed by, then I would continue going through with a other opportunities or conducting other interviews. And if something pops up in that time, then great, but if not, then you're sitting there kind of wasting time and hoping and praying for an answer or a job offer from that previous company that you're waiting from.

So that's my experience when it comes to the actual interviewing process whether it's on a phone or on site, I hope you found these job interview tips and tricks helpful in learning how to pass in interview that you'll be conducting in your professional road map.

If you haven't already, be sure to subscribe to the channel and drop a Like on the video if you haven’t already and I will see you next week for another exciting episode of the latest and greatest in digital marketing and social media news. If you haven't already, be sure to check out my last podcast episode that explores putting together social media content for your personal brand.

Nike is adding new meaning to purpose-driven marketing with the rollout of its “Just Do It” campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick during the NFL season opener on Wednesday, Sept. 5.

Despite the backlash and controversy surrounding the former 49ers quarterback, the campaign has garnered national attention with Nike receiving more than $43 million worth of media exposure in less than 24 hours since the first spot reveal by Kaepernick on Twitter.

“Nike is not new to making bold statements, but this has to be one of, if not, the boldest moves,” said Yadira Harrison, co-founder of marketing consultancy Verb in an interview with Digiday. “Knowing this is a campaign and not a one-and-done ad makes this all the more sweeter.”

A Theme of Pursuing Dreams Despite Adversities

Along with LeBron James, Serena Williams and Odell Beckham Jr., the two-minute spot highlights other athletes including Megan Blunk, a Rio gold medal-winning wheelchair athlete; Isaiah Bird, a 10-year-old wrestler born without legs; Charlie Jabaley, an Ironman athlete that dropped 120 pounds and overcame a brain tumor; and Alicia Woollcott, a Michigander linebacker that was named homecoming queen during her senior season.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hIc_epqfI0

“If people say your dreams are crazy, if they laugh at what you think you can do, OK, stay that way because what nonbelievers fail to understand is that calling a dream crazy is not an insult. It’s a compliment,” Kaepernick says at the beginning of the spot.

The theme of the ad espouses sacrifice and pushes for athletes to pursue bigger dreams despite facing various challenges from gender, health conditions and disabilities.

Media and Sales Results of Nike’s “Just Do It” Campaign

Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign faced mixed reception ranging from neutral to positive, while other viewers called for a boycott of the brand, cut the Nike emblem from their clothing and took to social media to express their outrage. According to data analytics firm Brandwatch, the trending hashtag #BoycottNike gained more than 188.4 million impressions on Twitter.

Nike speculated that the campaign would lead to a drop in sales, but a report from Edison Trends said that the company’s online sales grew 31 percent from Sunday through Tuesday, marking a 14 percent increase from the previous year during that period.

Kellan Terry, data manager at data analytics firm Brandwatch, reported more than a 1,300 percent jump in online mentions of Nike on Twitter between Sept. 2 and the day of the announcement.

Despite the surge in sales and online mentions, Nike reported a 3 percent decline in shares on Tuesday, Sept. 4, the biggest one-day drop since April 2018. Adidas, Nike’s top competitor, also reported a drop in shares.

Bloomberg Apex Marketing Group $34 Million In Media Generated Nike Just Do It Campaign

Although Kaepernick is perceived to be the face of the campaign, a Nike spokesperson said he is only one of several other athletes that are part of the “Just Do It” campaign with a spot featuring Serena Williams launching last week.

“This is the kind of advertising that has helped build Nike to what it is today – and exactly what we should be seeing from the Just Do It campaign,” said Katy Wellhousen, account director at influencer agency RQ in an interview with Digiday. “The campaign has lasted three decades because of Nike’s ability to weave it into powerful and personal stories.”

Was Featuring Kaepernick A Risky Move?

The decision to have Kaepernick serve as the narrator for the spot is viewed as a risky move based on his controversy in the NFL and his accusations against its owners of colluding to keep him out of the league. Kaepernick has been deemed by advertisers as “too polarizing” and he hasn’t been featured in an ad spot since 2015.

Nike has served as the official uniform and sideline apparel sponsor for the NFL since 2012 with a partnership extending into 2028 and although the ad spot might create tension between the two companies, their relationship seems unaffected at this time.

The Problem With Purpose-Driven Marketing

It’s impossible to appeal to every audience without coming across as inauthentic or confused in brand direction, which is a common problem in today’s world of purpose-driven marketing. Even though the ad spot received backlash, Nike has an ethnically-diverse customer base where two-thirds are younger than 35.

“Nike cares most about the category influencers and tastemakers -- nearly all of whom will embrace their decision,” said Howe Burch, the former head of U.S. marketing for Reebok in an interview with Time. “They know they will lose some customers short-term but not the kind of customers that really drive their business.”

Final Thoughts on Nike’s “Just Do It” Campaign

Personally, I think that Nike hit a home run with their campaign. It’s a fantastic case study on using purpose-driven marketing to appeal and connect to your core audience through an emotional piece of marketing.

Lately I’ve been reading Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Jab Jab Right Hook” and one of the main tenets of his book is creating content that’s appealing or powerful without it being a direct sell for the brand. You make jabs to garner engagement and further connect with your audience so that when you make that right hook, or the ask/sell to your audience, they’ll be more inclined to make that purchase or conversion.

The latest iteration of the “Just Do It” campaign is a short and sweet two-minute ad spot that features Nike’s slogan at the very end of the ad without attempting to sell anything. It tells a powerful story with a myriad of athletes overcoming different disabilities and adversities to “Just Do It” and accomplish their dreams.

In today’s political climate, the campaign resonates with a huge core of Nike’s audience as they’re both young and ethnically diverse. The metrics of the campaign speak volumes as the number of Nike mentions skyrocketed and sales drastically increased during the time frame that the ad spot ran. It’s easily shareable content that garnered $43 million in paid and earned media despite the vocal minority calling for a boycott. Hell, the meme currency is incredibly high with the plethora of meme photos crowding my Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Like Howe Burch mentioned, it’s impossible to appeal to everyone and Nike took a calculated move that displayed steadfastness in who their brand is trying to appeal to. They may lose a few customers, but Nike will retain the majority that is representative of their overall sales.

It’s even better that this ad spot isn’t just a one off and that it is part of an ongoing series so that Nike can continue making jabs while being poised to clinch an explosive right hook.

What do you think of Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign, its effectiveness and long-term implications? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

As Facebook continues to incorporate a “Pay to Play” model for Facebook Business Pages to receive reach and engagement, many businesses are weighing the options between a Facebook Boosted Post Vs Ad for reaching their target audience. Organic reach is no longer viable on the platform as a post may receive as little as 1 percent of views from a Page’s followers, but most business owners are confused when it comes to the differences between setting up a Facebook Campaign and simply boosting their posts, which I’ll be exploring in this post.

What Are Boosted Posts on Facebook?

Boosting a post on Facebook is essentially a watered-down version of setting up a Facebook Campaign. The boost post option allows you to choose a post that’s already on your business page and promote it.

Using this feature allows you to choose your target audience, a total budget and the duration to run your post. In a recent update you can also encourage readers to visit your website if the post includes a link.

Facebook Boosted Post Vs Ad Action Photo

The biggest difference between a boosted post and a Facebook Campaign is in the limited functionality that a boosted post offers in customization. It focuses primarily on visibility and engagement, which can be great for brand awareness, but it doesn’t allow you to choose through other conversion options like store visits, actual conversions, lead generation, or where the post is displayed.

Here are a few key takeaways before we dive further in the differences between boosted posts and Ad Campaigns:

Facebook Boosted Post Vs Ad – Which Is Better?

Facebook Boosted Post Vs Ad Marketing Objective Photo

The interface for boosting a post is much simpler and doesn’t offer the variety of customization options that are available when you run a Facebook Campaign. Like I mentioned, you have the option to choose a marketing objective such as traffic, conversions, product catalog sales, lead generation or app installs, allowing for a better fit depending on what your social media marketing goals are.

Facebook Campaigns also let you choose from different placement options, whether you want your ad to display in the sidebar, the Facebook news feed, Instagram feeds and stories, instant articles or messenger ads, whereas a Boosted Post only lets you check or uncheck whether you want it to display on Instagram.

You can display your campaign to desktop or mobile users only, which can be significant depending on who your target demographic is.

By using a full ads system, you have control over who your custom audience is alongside detailed targeting based on target interests and behaviors, which isn’t available on boosted posts.

Facebook Boosted Post Vs Ad Audience Photo

Manual bidding is also available for impressions or link clicks alongside more creative control in making carousel ads, adding headlines and descriptions, choosing the right CTA button based on your preferences, which you can’t do through boosted posts.

Facebook Boosted Post Vs Ad Manual Bidding Photo

When to Use Facebook Boosted Post Vs Ad

Facebook Boosted Post Vs Ad Example Photo

While you should be using Facebook Campaigns most of the time, simply boosting a post has its own benefits depending on what you’re trying to promote.

As an example of using a Facebook Campaign, a dealership could create a video awareness campaign promoting in-store specials for the month. That dealership could then retarget the audience that watched a certain percentage of the video and incorporate a lead ad that automatically fills out most of their information.

After that audience converts, the dealership could then retarget the users who visited their website and show those users high-converting carousel ads based on the vehicles they researched on the website.

This is one option that social media marketers have in their arsenal when using Facebook Ads that can produce incredible results with a relatively low CPC or CPA.

On the other hand, you can boost a post when the target goal is to boost brand awareness or increase engagement such as getting users to like your page. Whether it’s announcing an event such as a grand opening, the release of a new product or service, or sharing user-generated content to build customer loyalty, boosting a post has its own value depending on the overall goal for the boost.

Facebook Story Ads May Be a Game Changer

With the rising popularity of the Stories format, it only makes sense for Facebook to offer marketers a new way to reach their audience as a “pay to play” platform for business efforts. Interestingly enough Facebook cites one-third of the most viewed Instagram stories to be from businesses that are achieving results with that type of ad format:

“For example, Tropicana ran video ads in Instagram Stories for its summertime product promotion campaign, achieving an 18-point lift in ad recall and 15-point lift in purchase intent among males. OpenTable used ads in Instagram Stories to drive online restaurant reservations, resulting in a 33% lower cost per reservation compared to other ad formats. And Overstock ran video ads in Instagram Stories to acquire new customers and increase sales, and generated an 18% higher return on ad spend and a 20% decrease in cost per acquisition.”

It’s standard to see lower CPMs for any new ad placement format as advertisers are competing for less space for their ad placements. However, marketers are viewing the new ad placement opportunity on Facebook as opportunistic rather than strategic, especially as the platform appeals to an older demographic in comparison to Instagram. Be sure to check out my full post for my details on best practices for Facebook Story Ads. 

Facebook Boosted Post Vs Ad Recap

Facebook Boosted Post Vs Ad Breakdown Comparison Sheet

To wrap things up, here are the main differences with Boosted Posts and running an Ad Campaign:

Both have their inherent uses, but I find Facebook Campaigns to be the more robust option that will allow the most bang for your buck in driving sales conversions, whether through e-commerce or in the physical storefront.

The ultimate goal for any business is to drive more sales as effectively as possible while beating the competition. Digital offers such a wide variety of targeting options at relatively low CPC or CPA to a massive audience, making it imperative for social media marketers to take advantage of all the tools that are available to them on the platforms they’re advertising on.

Boosting posts is great for social media, where the focus is to spread brand awareness, cultivate new followers and customer loyalty, but that’s only a small part of the overall scope for most digital marketing initiatives.

What are some creative ways that you or your company have set up Facebook Campaigns to drive more conversions? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

The spot healing brush is one of the best healing tools in Photoshop that can be used to clone areas of an image and blend the sampled area to remove unwanted objects, blemishes or black spots. Using the Spot Healing Brush Tool in Photoshop is simple to use in that you drag with the tool to paint over larger areas you want to transform.

Different Spot Healing Brush Tool Modes

Spot Healing Brush Tool in Photoshop Photo 2

There are several modes to achieve your desired effect:

Proximity Match Feature

This option reads the pixel data around a blemish and will match it based on the proximity of the sample. Whether you’re using this feature to remove a pimple or random black spots, it’ll use the tones next to the affected areas as a reference without requiring any additional tweaking on the user’s behalf.

Create Texture Feature

The Create Texture Feature will look at the surrounding pixels and create a texture map to approximate the colors to be used in repairing the affected area.

Content-Aware Fill

If you aren’t sure whether you should be using Proximity Match or the Create Texture feature, Photoshop can make that choice for you by taking colors from nearby pixels when using the Content-Aware Fill.

Example of Using the Spot Healing Brush Tool in Photoshop

In my most recent photo work I had a great photo op when visiting Northern Michigan for great nature/landscape photography. Unfortunately a bit of dust crept into my camera, causing black spots and lines to appear in any photos that were shot with a high F-stop or long shutter speed.

I wasn’t sure how obtrusive these specks and lines would be until I imported them to Adobe Lightroom. After performing my color edits I decided to remove those blemishes in Adobe Photoshop. In the past I’ve used the clone tool to remove unwanted objects in the background of my photos, but it didn’t work well when attempting to remove those black specks in the horizon of the photos I shot.

After some pontification I did some research, finding that the Spot Healing Brush Tool would be my best bet in the spot healing I was trying to perform.

This was a minor edit and relied on the Content-Aware Fill to mirror the colors from nearby pixels to remove the blemishes completely. After boosting the radius of the tool, all I had to do was point and drag to get rid of the 12 black spots speckled all over my otherwise-beautiful photo.

Best Uses of the Spot Healing Brush Tool

Spot Healing Brush Tool in Photoshop Photo 3
The Spot Healing Brush Tool in Photoshop is great for removing unwanted blemishes and marks on the face of your model.

Although I used the Spot Healing Brush Tool to remove black spots resulting from dust in my camera, there are other applications where the spot healing brush shines for photo manipulation.

Removing Lines: Like I mentioned earlier, using the Create Texture Feature is a great way to remove telephone lines in the background of your photos or even the lines in a person’s face (crow’s feet come to mind here).

Image Imperfections: Many model photographers will use the Spot Healing Brush Tool to produce smooth skin on the faces of their models. You can also use this tool to remove stray hairs for windy outdoor scenarios.

Blemishes: again, removing imperfections in a model’s skin or unwanted blemishes like beauty marks or pimples is a breeze when using the Spot Healing Brush Tool.

Other Editing Options Available

Along with your desired effect, you can change how your artwork looks with the following options in the Main Menu:

While you can transfer all edits used with the brush tool to affect all layers, the Blending Mode of the Layer will override any of the selections that you made in the Main Menu.

Differences Between Healing Brush and Clone Stamp Tool

While both tools take a sample area, the Clone Stamp Tool will take the entire area and clone it, whereas the Healing Brush Tool factors in both the color and luminosity of the sample it’s drawing pixels from.

The Clone Tool is great for areas with more defined edges as the Healing Brush Tool will only blur the color and leave you with smudged and messy areas. The Healing Brush Tool also falters in areas with a sharp distinction between colors, making the sample area look unnatural when applying edits.

It’s important to make the distinction when using both tools, as it’s more of the technique you’re applying and the desired effect as opposed to the tool that you’re using to create that effect.

Using The Spot Healing Brush Tool In Photoshop Recap

The Spot Healing Brush Tool is powerful in healing your photos rather than performing destructive photo editing techniques to achieve your desired effects. While it bares similarities to the Clone Stamp Tool, it’s better applied to color and luminosity edits compared to removing whole objects in the background depending on the contrast of colors.

While the Content-Aware Fill is the best option for photographers who don’t use the tool often, the Proximity Match and Content Fill Features can be used to achieve a similar effect depending on the situation.

I’ve found that the Spot Healing Brush Tool has been the most helpful when performing my desired photo edits, but despite being versatile it does have several weaknesses that don’t make it the best option in certain circumstances. The tool relies on Adobe Photoshop’s AI to determine what the sampled area should look like, which can result in jarring or smudged areas that detract from the overall visual of the image. It’s not the end-all-be-all, but it’s a fantastic tool that every photography should use in their photo manipulation arsenal.

I hope you found this post to be helpful in successfully applying the Spot Healing Brush Tool to remove unwanted spots, specks and blemishes from your photos! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my Rembrandt Lighting Photo Challenge where I go in depth on using the tool to manipulate the face and hair of my model.

Photography Equipment that I Use

Here are some links for the vlogging equipment I used in the photo challenge for this week:

White Backdrop Curtain: https://amzn.to/2k1L2ds

Neewer Photography Light Stand: https://amzn.to/2GpKXZS

Neewer Video Photography Lighting Kit: https://amzn.to/2rMYshB

Pentax 50mm Prime Lens: https://amzn.to/2GkrAkB

Pentax  K-50 Camera Body: https://amzn.to/2IjPUJj

Hi there and welcome back for Week 23 of the 2018 Photography Challenge! This week explores the concept of No Peeking and First Look Photos.

No Peeking

Shoot as if you were using a film camera. That means that you will not look at the photographs you've taken until they are downloaded on your computer.

The challenges for each week are also divided into categories.

The category for this week is...

Vision

This category is designed to push you to go beyond sight, to insight; to take inspiration and make it a reality. Vision exists in your imagination and is revealed your photographs; expressing something otherwise invisible. Developing a Vision for your work is showing to others what you see in your mind’s eye.

No Peeking and First Look Photo Technique

While the concept of the first look is generally applied to a bride and groom seeing each other for the first time before the wedding ceremony, the idea behind this week’s photo challenge explores shooting photos without looking at them on the digital screen of the camera.

When film photography was the only option, photographers would shoot a photo with their film camera and have no idea how the photo turned out until they took them in to be processed.

With film rolls allowing for a small number of photos to be shot at a time alongside the cost of purchasing rolls of film, photographers would have to be sparing in their shots and hope for the best regarding if they turned out well or not.

The world of digital photography has come a long way, especially as we have the option to look at the photos saved on the SD cards directly on the screen of our DSLR’s, allowing for more reshoots if we didn’t get the settings/focus right on the first or second shot.

Thoughts On The No Peeking Challenge

2018 Photography Challenge: No Peeking and First Look Photo 2

Last weekend I had the opportunity to shoot some beautiful nature/landscape photos while vacationing in Northern Michigan! While I didn’t perform this challenge for all of my photos, I did hold off on looking at my landscape long-exposure shots until I got home.

I was able to take some amazing pictures, but one issue I discovered was that for my photos that had high F-stops and longer exposures, black specks and dots marred the entire image, making for a very displeased photographer considering how great the shots turned out otherwise.

Shooting like this made me appreciate the capabilities we now have with DSLR’s, considering I’ve never used a camera that required film.

My photographer friend dabbled in film photos, only to grow frustrated when her settings weren’t set up properly or the composition was off-center compared to the viewfinder. The frustration mounted when she lost an entire film roll to light exposure after a failed attempt to seal it after shooting around for three months with her film camera.

2018 Photo Challenge Edits

For a few of the landscape shots I performed quite a few color edits that really enhanced the photos. If you haven’t checked out my photo challenge video, here are the photo edits that I made:

In that tip video I also explored some photo manipulation that I performed using the Spot Healing Brush Tool to remove the unwanted black specks that formed from dust compromising my camera. The Spot Healing Brush Tool is awesome in that it approximates colors and luminance based on the data from a sample spot, so all I had to do was increase the radius of the tool and drag to remove those blemishes without detracting from the image.

The coloration of the photo made this a simple task, as everything blends into one another without any defined edges to diminish the effects of the tool.

No Peeking and First Look Photo Technique Recap

What did you think of this week’s photography challenge? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out last week’s photo challenge where I explored the concept of figurative door photography and next week's high contrast photography challenge.

Photography Equipment that I Use

Here are some links for the vlogging equipment I used in the photo challenge for this week:

White Backdrop Curtain: https://amzn.to/2k1L2ds

Neewer Photography Light Stand: https://amzn.to/2GpKXZS

Neewer Video Photography Lighting Kit: https://amzn.to/2rMYshB

Pentax 50mm Prime Lens: https://amzn.to/2GkrAkB

Pentax  K-50 Camera Body: https://amzn.to/2IjPUJj

We all have goals and things that we want to accomplish on a day-to-day basis, but we often struggle finding enough hours to getting things done. I’m no exception, especially as I try to juggle 50-hour work weeks, create content for my personal brand, connect with thought leaders in the digital world and maintain a healthy social life with friends and family. Whether it’s completing simple chores around the house or investing time in side projects, this post will provide a few ways on how to increase productivity without drastically revamping your entire daily routine.

Tip #1: Write Out Your Goals/To-Do List

Tips For Increased Productivity Write Out Your Goals and To-Do-List

As we start our day, we’re faced with a flurry of ideas about what we need to get done, but either forget or rush to do certain things as they come up. The best way that I remember to stay on task and to organize my game plan for the day is to write out my goals and to-do list in a notebook before I go to bed every night.

It seems small, but it works wonders in keeping yourself organized as you enter a new day with a busy plate. Writing out your to-do list also creates a positive snowball effect as you cross off the list of tasks you set for yourself to complete.

I try to perform small tasks when I wake up to get my day started, relegating more intensive tasks to the late morning or early afternoon once the caffeine rids me of that early morning grogginess. Usually I’ll make my bed, hit a cold shower, review my to-do list, go for a quick jog and do some light reading in the first hour of waking up to get me on track for the rest of the day.

Tip #2: Figure Out When You’re the Most And Least Productive

Tips For Increased Productivity Figure Out When You're The Most and Least Productive

It’s impossible to stay motivated and productive every waking moment of your day. We all have our slump periods, whether it’s right after lunch or walking in the door after a busy shift and it’s important to identify when you’re productive or entering that slump period of the day.

Beyond writing out my to-do list, I assign each task with a difficulty ranking of 1 or 2. When I’m the most productive, I try to accomplish those higher difficulty tasks while performing the simpler ones for when I’m the least productive.

My highest hours of personal productivity are from 5-7:30 a.m., and from 7-11:30 p.m., while my productivity gradually decreases from 1-6 p.m. as I grind away at work.

One hack that I use to get into the right mindset after finishing a shift is to take a power nap as soon as a I get home. I’ll pop a caffeine pill before I take that nap and when I wake up, I’m refreshed, energized and ready to tackle the remainder of my to-do list before unwinding for bed around midnight.

Tip #3: Avoid Distractions At All Costs

Tips For Increased Productivity Avoid Distractions At All Costs

As we start crunching away at our to-do lists, the biggest issue many people face is spending their time unproductively and wasting more time than they anticipated. For me this takes the form of mindlessly surfing through YouTube Videos and my social media feeds; five minutes might turn into half an hour if I’m not careful, and most people have the same dilemma. Whether it’s social media, reading random articles on Reddit and Google, or binge-watching television shows, we often spend hours every day wasting time for that quick dopamine hit and feeling of instant gratification from entertainment.

I’ve gotten into the habit of shutting my phone off, only turning it on to check on things every few hours. If I’m surfing around on social media, I will scroll 10 posts deep and then scroll up; once I hit the top of my newsfeed again I exit out of the browser or app. For television shows and YouTube videos I’ll play them in the background as I do more mindless work that isn’t thought-intensive.

Again, it’s impossible to be productive every waking moment of the day, but don’t fall into the habit of rewarding yourself with social media or television shows to find yourself knee-deep in newsfeeds and the “Are You Still There” pop-up on Netflix.

To break up my time, I’ll allocate 45 minutes of productive work where I completely focus on the task at hand, while I devote 15 minutes to meditation or getting up to walk around and unwind before returning to the task at hand.

Tip #4: Wake Up An Hour Earlier Than You Normally Would

Tips For Increased Productivity Wake Up An Hour Earlier Than You Normally Would

No one likes waking up early, myself included, but getting up an hour earlier than you normally would works wonders for productivity.

It lets you organize your thoughts, set to work on your tasks and start that positive snowball before heading into work. Like I mentioned earlier, I wake up at 5 a.m. every day to go for that morning run, do some light-reading, check up on my website analytics and social media notifications, and even do some yoga and meal prep before heading into the work.

If you’re waking up late and are in a frenzy to get ready and out the door to head to work, that’ll follow you into the rest of your day and you’ll feel frazzled, fried and disoriented trying to figure out what you need to do.

Tip #5: Write Out Monthly and Yearly Goals For Accountability

Tips For Increased Productivity Write Out Monthly and Yearly Goals For Accountability

While writing out daily goals is a great start, creating monthly and yearly goals to strive for is the best way to be productive and continue improving yourself.

Daily goals are short-term and should be those steps you’re making to accomplish those monthly and yearly goals.

With my daily goals I’ll task myself with working out, engaging on social media, writing posts for my website, recording podcasts and vlogs, reading, doing yoga, etc… but it’s easy to get lost in the weeds or become de-motivated when you don’t have that higher bar you’re trying to reach.

Inversely, it’s also demotivating to set those monthly and yearly goals, only to reach that month end and realize you weren’t even close to what you wanted to accomplish because you weren’t making those daily steps to reach that goal.

I talk about this in other blog posts and podcasts, but take that time to sit down, evaluate what you want to accomplish and the steps you’re taking to get there. Thirty-day challenges are great for this, especially as it takes weeks to build habits and routines, or having accountability buddies to spur each other on and encouraging one another to stick with it.

Tip #6: Make Sure You’re Sleeping Enough

Tips For Increased Productivity Make Sure You're Sleeping Enough

I don’t practice what I preach for tip #6, but as a society we often downplay the importance of getting a good night’s sleep to greet the day productively. Not getting enough sleep won’t have any serious detriments in the short term, but as our bodies become sleep-deprived our energy levels plummet, cognitive function decreases for complex decision-making and it becomes harder to wake up on time in the morning.

Eventually we burn ourselves out and either sleep through alarms or spend the weekend as a couch potato recovering from a restless week. Get at least 6-8 hours of sleep and go to bed/wake up at the same time every day.

Tip #7: Take Time To Unwind and Have Fun

Tips For Increased Productivity Make Time To Unwind and Have Fun

As I’ve stated several times through this post, we can’t be productive every waking moment of the day. While we can maximize our productivity, it’s crucial to take time out of our day to engage in behaviors to destress/unwind. Whether it’s reading a book, watching that television show, playing a video game or meeting up with friends, we need to allocate some time to unwind.

There’s a difference between mindlessly wasting time and using it meaningfully to destress. If you don’t take that time out of your week to relax, you’re going to start building a negative association with your tasks and start pushing them off for the following day/week.

I a hard-stop for myself at 11 p.m. to stop anything I didn’t accomplish on my to-do list and begin to unwind for bed. I’ll either sit down to read, play a video game, watch a few episodes of my favorite show or bury myself in Reddit threads to my heart’s content until midnight turning in for the evening.

7 Quick Tips On How To Increase Productivity Recap

While these are simple tips for increasing productivity, they’re effective in maximizing the 16 waking hours you have in the day to getting things done. I hope you found this post to be helpful and I would love to hear what you do to stay productive in the comments section below!

Hi there and welcome back for week 22 of the 2018 photo challenge! This week explores door photography:

Door

A symbol of transition, a door or a gate provide a passage way.

The challenges for each week are also divided into categories.

The category for this week is...

Creative

When this category comes up, you really have room to express yourself. You can interpret the assignment literally or figuratively. Unlike the other categories, the idea of this category is to let your artistic impression shine.

Figurative Door Photography

2018 Photography Challenge Door Photography American Dagger Caterpillar

For this door photography prompt we had the option of either interpreting the photo literally or figuratively. Rather than shooting a physical image of a door, I decided to do a figurative interpretation for a symbol of transition and what better way to do that than shooting a photo of a caterpillar?

The subject of this photo is the American Dagger Caterpillar, which looks interesting as far as caterpillars go with its yellow fur and black bristles to ward off predators. When broken the bristles will excrete poison to ward off predators, making it pleasant to look at but dangerous to touch!

2018 Photography Challenge Door Photography American Dagger Caterpillar 2

While the caterpillar hasn’t entered more advanced stages of its life cycle into that of the American Dagger Moth, using a caterpillar for this prompt is perfect for conveying that sense of transition as it will eventually transform into a chrysalis and its adult form.

The biggest challenge for this week’s prompt stemmed from trying to focus in with my macro lens; as I had to manually focus on my subject, the caterpillar kept moving, so every shot I took was often blurred from the movement. It took a lot of patience, but I was able to snap quite a few good-looking photos that didn’t require much post-editing.

Door Photography Edits

If you haven’t checked out my editing video already, here are the edits that I made in Adobe Lightroom:

Door Photography Conclusion

What did you think of this week’s photography challenge and my interpretation of it? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment’s section below! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out last week’s photography challenge where I explored product photography and next week's no peeking photography challenge. 

Photography Equipment that I Use

Here are some links for the vlogging equipment I used in the photo challenge for this week:

White Backdrop Curtain: https://amzn.to/2k1L2ds

Neewer Photography Light Stand: https://amzn.to/2GpKXZS

Neewer Video Photography Lighting Kit: https://amzn.to/2rMYshB

Pentax 50mm Prime Lens: https://amzn.to/2GkrAkB

Pentax  K-50 Camera Body: https://amzn.to/2IjPUJj

Hey there ladies and gentleman, welcome back to this month’s personal branding strategy and KPI check-in for Laz’s Lounge! Like I did last month, I’ll be walking through how I performed on my social media and website for last month, providing insights into what was successful, what didn’t work and what my goals are for August! Let’s just jump right into it.

Laz’s Lounge Website Metrics

Laz's Lounge Personal Branding Strategy and KPI's for August 2018 Website Metrics

July proved to be another record-breaking month as I had more than 2,229 pageviews, which doubles my goal for last month! Google has finally begun ranking a few of my articles in the top-10 search results that have a higher volume of searches.

For technical SEO I recently installed a new caching plug-in called WP Rocket, which has significantly improved my site load speed from 15 seconds down to 2.3 seconds on average.

With my bounce rate I was able to reduce that from 32 percent down to 11 percent, but unfortunately my time spent on site is averaging 1 minute and 30 seconds, which is something I need to improve on.

I downloaded a WordPress Plugin called Scroll Depth that sends signals to Google Analytics as users scroll to the 25, 50, 75 and 100 percent mark in my posts based on how far they’re scrolling to read.

As far as social media goes, my referral traffic was significantly down this month barring traffic from LinkedIn, which I can attribute to not engaging or posting frequently enough on social media compared to June.

My goals for August include hitting:

To accomplish this, I plan on writing more posts per week that will include one long-form content, a short tip post for social media or digital marketing, my weekly photo challenge with an accompanying tutorial video, my weekly podcast and a vlog every week. I might also incorporate weekly live videos on my drives home from work into the mix, but we’ll see how that goes.

The email opt-in form that I included on my website is slowly picking up subscribers through Mail Chimp, so I hope to carry that momentum heading into this month.

I also have areas of opportunity for boosting posts on Facebook and doing more paid search, which should help drive more traffic to the site.

Facebook Metrics

Laz's Lounge Personal Branding Strategy and KPI's for August 2018 Facebook Metrics

Similar to last month, Facebook continues to be a thorn in my side when it comes to garnering likes and followers, although I did pick up three more last month, so the additional traffic coming into my site seems to be bleeding out to my social media channels for followers or subscribers.

This month I had 18 clicks on my links, 1,402 total reach and 105 engagement on my posts, or a 7.4% engagement rate.

My strategy of repurposing content and incorporating more videos on Facebook without direct outbound links seems to be playing well with Facebook’s algorithm, so I plan on turning up the mix on posting content to 3-4 times a day on the platform to keep that momentum going.

Like I mentioned earlier, boosting posts will be a good way to potentially get more exposure and likes to the page, but I need to start reviewing supplementary material to set up campaigns properly to really maximize my spend on paid ads.

Here are my Facebook metric goals for August:

Twitter Metrics

Laz's Lounge Personal Branding Strategy and KPI's for August 2018 Twitter Metrics

I’m surprised with how many impressions my Twitter had this month as I deviated from interacting with other users and participating in Twitter Chats. Having said that, my overall engagement was down with my content, but my impressions were sitting at 30.2k, I gained 76 new followers and 11 link clicks to my website.

This month I decided to break the bank and subscribe for Buffer’s Pro Plan, which allows for 100 scheduled posts per social media account, so I can post more tweets to be pushed out alongside using IFTTT to maximize the short shelf life of tweets.

I also plan on participating on 3 Twitter Chats per week, cramming them all in on Wednesdays to get a different perspective in various industries while connecting with new people. Below are my goals for August:

Instagram Metrics

Laz's Lounge Personal Branding Strategy and KPI's for August 2018 Instagram Metrics

Instagram had mixed results this month. While I did receive 11,000 impressions, my engagement fell short at 10,341 while I gained 55 followers, which was less than anticipated. Again, I can chalk this up to posting less and not engaging enough with other users on the platform.

Like Facebook, I plan on turning up the amount of original content and repurposing content into short videos and quotes to garner more engagement. I’ve found that video, my photo challenges and quotes perform the best when I post them on this platform, so I need to run with it for August.

Here are my goals for August:

LinkedIn Metrics

Laz's Lounge Personal Branding Strategy and KPI's for August 2018 LinkedIn Metrics

I’m happy with how LinkedIn performed this month. As far as referral traffic for my website, LinkedIn beat out Facebook with 42 link clicks, which can be attributed to more frequent posting in LinkedIn Groups. I’ve also been more centric on digital marketing and tip videos, which have resonated the most with my LinkedIn followers alongside more personal content. Overall I had 3,790 views on all of my posts, although engagements per post were a little lack at 35 total interactions.

Like Facebook and Instagram, posting short snippits from my audio and video content might go a long way in boosting these numbers, but here are my goals for August:

I might also try my hand in repurposing old content into short blog posts that direct more traffic to my website for the full post or more content, but we’ll see how that goes and I’ll report back in September as to if it was successful or not.

Pinterest Metrics

Laz's Lounge Personal Branding Strategy and KPI's for August 2018 Pinterest Metrics

As far as Pinterest goes, I haven’t been very active on the platform and rely on my Instagram content feed through from IFTTT to pin content to specific boards. The numbers were good in consideration of that as I hit 4,176 monthly viewers and 59 engaged users.

My social media tips and photo challenges are the top performing boards on the platform, so that content resonates the most with my audience on Pinterest.

I need to do some design revamping of my boards alongside joining a few Pinterest Groups to see if that moves the needle like it did on LinkedIn last month or create one infographic a week to maximize engagement on a single pin.

Here are my goals for August:

YouTube Metrics

Laz's Lounge Personal Branding Strategy and KPI's for August 2018 YouTube Metrics

With YouTube I’m happy to see my views heading in a positive direction on the platform, which can be attributed to producing more tip videos for a regular posting schedule. My total watch time was 167 minutes, while the average time spent on my videos worked out to be 2:03 minutes and 81 total views.

To add to my content mix, I plan on producing 360 videos to accompany my photo challenges and finally start vlogging weekly, which I failed to do last month. Here are my goals for August:

Things I Need To Work On For August

While I’m heading in the right direction, there’s always work to be done in the world of digital! I’ve become consistent in producing more content, but my problem is finding the time to schedule it on my social media platforms, which caused a reduction in overall referral traffic compared to previous months. I also need to get back into engaging on social media instead of relying on my content mix to garner results.

As video takes the social media world by storm as the best way to reach your audience, I’m slowly shifting to repurposing my audio and video content to appeal to LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook audiences with captions to still capture that audience who watch those snippits without sound.

I talked about this in my latest podcast episode, but Gary Vaynerchuk shared some tips on how to go about repurposing content, which I have taken a chapter out of to implement in my social media curation strategy.

Alongside producing this kind of content, I also need to revamp my web design to include an About Me Page, a Discloure Page to be GDPR compliant, as well as tweak my MailChimp newsletter design to be more appealing as the number of email subscribers grows.

Last month I became recertified in Google Analytics and Adwords, opening my eyes to the possibilities and just how far I can go in analyzing what’s working and what needs to be improved on for Laz’s Lounge, which will help when implementing search ads and Facebook paid ads in the future.

I also need to do more guest posts for backlinks to help with the SEO and boosting my domain authority; my plan is to maybe write 1-2 more posts per month to slowly move that needle and see what results it garners so I have a better chance of competing for higher difficulty keywords.

Laz’s Lounge Personal Branding and KPI’s Final Thoughts

I hope you found this post to be helpful and I would leave to hear your thoughts/feedback in the comments section below! Let me know if this guide will help with growing your target audience, enhancing your social media profiles and your online presence!

 

Hi there welcome back for episode 17 of Lounge Talk With Laz. In this week’s episode, I'll be discussing my social media content calendar and creating and planning social media content on a weekly basis. Let's just jump right into it.

What My Content Creation Calendar Looks Like

So I often get questions on how I come up with so much content throughout the week, especially working at General Motors with a full-time job.

I figured that the podcast format would be a great way to kind of share my insights as to how I come up with so much content throughout the week, and my process for distributing it, on social media.

First, I want to start off with what my week looks like from the week days during work to the weekends. During the week. I will take a look through all my social media platforms and the goal for Monday through Friday, is to connect and engage with my audience, as much as possible, and by doing that, I often come across various topic ideas or articles or posts that kind of piqued my interest and I keep those on the back burner for potential blog post ideas for the weekend.

Alongside aggregate content. I usually have an idea of what I want to write about based on what I'm doing at work or various issues or topics or things that I'm doing from my own branding perspective, whether on social media, digital marketing, website optimization that sort of stuff.

Weekly Content Mix

My Social Media Content Mix


My content mix for Laz’s Lounge comes in the form of one podcast episode every week, one photo challenge each week at the beginning of the week, an actual blog post and long-form and that can take the guise of social media or digital marketing or even graphic design, depending on what I am interested in writing about that week. And I also plan on starting a vlog as another form of video content.

Here and there, I will write more short form pieces in the form of product reviews or just really quick tips that are really easy to consume, and break up the pacing for the week with my content mix.

But the biggest goal for the first five days of the week is to come up with those ideas and kind of place them in various buckets depending on how I want to create and distribute depending on the medium whether it's an audio file or an actual video or just written content.

Once I have an idea of what I want to discuss for the upcoming week and I have maybe five to ten ideas for topics, then the weekend is entirely devoted to content creation.

I'll typically try to create content after I get off work on Friday, but this usually doesn't happen, because I'm so burnt out from the week and I want to take the time to kind of unwind and relax on Fridays. Saturdays are primarily devoted to making the content and writing and recording audio and doing editing behind the scenes.

I'll get a bulk of the content done on Saturdays, but it's never likely that I get everything done. So any of the remainders or left-overs that I have will kind of go out into Sunday morning and I'll sit down right when I get up and I'll take an extra two to three hours out of my day to finish up making my content.

Once I have everything written and recorded, Sundays are primarily devoted to doing all the editing for the audio or the tip videos that I do for the photo challenges. And then I will upload them onto my website and perform all of the search engine optimization techniques, in terms of researching for key words, doing back links to other websites, internal linking to other articles that are relevant on my website, that sort of thing.

Once everything is uploaded onto my website on the back end as drafts, then I will go into Canva and create short little photos for the SEO with alt-tags and alt-descriptions and Meta Descriptions and that stuff, and it also serves as another way to repost my content, so I can share it on social media for the upcoming week.

Re-Purposing Long Form Content

How I Repurpose Content For Social Media Distribution


Recently in terms of re-purposing content, my main focus is to create those long-form pieces, and then re-purpose them in other mediums. So for example, with those photos that I create for the posts, then I will re-share them on my social media throughout the week. Lately, I have been creating tip videos on my YouTube channel, and it's really simple to do that, considering I have everything written out in the form of a blog post. So it was just a matter of setting up my recording equipment and recording and doing a little bit of light editing before uploading onto YouTube.

Once I have my repurposed content, all set up and ready to go and my blog posts uploaded, then I will spend Sunday evening or Monday morning, setting up my social media calendar to share all of that content throughout the week that way I'm not super involved throughout the week I can spend that time engaging with my audiences on social media and garnering more of a following or more engagement, and it's very time consuming, and tedious to upload content or share content on a day-to-day basis, especially as I am sharing content as much as three times a day on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, that sort of stuff. And I also have automation systems set up, so when I post on one platform, it will post to another platform. I think I talked about this in previous other blog posts with the automation system called If This Then That, and I have it so my Facebook when I upload will share out the Twitter my Instagram will share out to Pinterest and you can do pretty much any kind of recipe or any kind of automation funnel, you just have to find the right recipe and just get that going.

Gary Vaynerchuk's Content Model

How I Repurpose My Content 2


Recently I read a blog post from Gary Vanyerchuk on how he has his content model set up and the way he does it is his team takes a center piece of content, or a long form of content, like a podcast, or a blog or a video and they will re-purpose the hell out of it.

So they will first take that initial video or the initial long piece and basically just turn it into micro content and this can take the form of short-form pieces. Like memes quotes stories, small posts and I've noticed that he will take snippets of his long-form videos, turn them into 30-second clips and then after that's all set up re-distribute them across social media.

He will first try to direct readers and his audience to looking at that long form video, and then entice them to leave comments with their favorite moments or pieces with time stamps to make it easier to sift through that content, see what resonates with the majority of the audience and then turn that into 30 second pieces to again redistribute with captions and things like that on Facebook and Twitter and Snapchat and LinkedIn, and what have you.

You could say that my content model is kind of similar to Gary Vaynerchuk’s, But I focus on turning a long-form content into re-purposed material that I spread on social media, where as he focuses on one keynote piece, and then uses that as the focal point to turn it into podcasts or quotes or super short videos on social and I'm kind of leaning toward turning my content model into something similar to Gary Vee. For example, with my podcasts, I think it'd be a great idea to start taking small 30-second snippets cutting those out, adding captions, because obviously, a lot of social media users will watch videos without audio, and then uploading those on to my social media platforms for distribution throughout the week.

My repurpose photos that I have on my blog posts are typically just snippets of what I've already written to just kind of increase the amount of time spent on the post for SEO purposes, and then I repurpose those already. So that's all golden and finding dandy there.

And then I even go as far as turning my blog posts into more video content just because video tends to see the most engagement with readers and again, is another way to increase the amount of time spent on the site as people will click on your video and just kind of watch through it and then continue to read the rest of your post. And it also serves again as another medium of content that you can distribute and appeal to a wider range of readers or users on social media.

Social Media Posting Frequency

My Social Media Posting Frequency


Going more in depth regarding what I do on social media and how frequently I post I will typically post on Facebook two to three times a day, Monday through Friday.

On Instagram, I post about three times a day. LinkedIn, I try to keep it a little bit less with maybe one of the two posts.

And then with Twitter, I try to tweet ten to 15 times a day. And using that automation system makes that a lot easier than trying to schedule individual tweets. It would end up being maybe five to a hundred tweets a week that I would have the schedule, and that's just too much and that's a huge time investment. So having that automation system in place is very helpful for saving all that time.

And then typically I will post during the afternoons. So, on Facebook, for example, I will post at four o'clock and seven o'clock; on Instagram, I post 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock; on Twitter, it's usually hourly, and then LinkedIn is eight o'clock in the morning and five o'clock at night just because that's when most people get off of work in or browsing through. So, it's the best way to capture that audience, in that segment. And as I've explained in various posts and podcasts episodes, each social media platform is different in the way that you want to tackle your engagement with your following. So on Facebook, I try to limit my characters for my captions, to 140 to 280 characters. Just keep it very short and concise. Twitter, I found that just re-titling your post in your tweet gives the most engagement for some odd reason. And then I'll try to use to relevant hashtags to get as much impressions or reach as possible.

Instagram, I will load up my content with as many hashtags as are relevant to get the widest amount of impressions in reach and engagement and Instagram is the only platform where I have to resize my photos to a 800 by 800 square model, and then LinkedIn, I will emulate something similar to Facebook, but I've also been including three to five relevant hashtags as LinkedIn is now using those in their platform. So why not? It helps a little bit with the reach and the impressions, not so much as Twitter, but it's still helpful. And as far as video content goes, I will try to upload native photos on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Facebook is interesting in that if you start linking out to other websites, you will get less reach.

So your content mic should be between 70-80 percent original posts, so to speak, and you can do 20-30 where it links out to your personal website or other websites, if you're posting aggregate content.

And then LinkedIn’s weird, where native videos, don't get as much reach or impressions and so it's better to just link them whether you're uploading on YouTube, or your website as those will garner more impressions and reach than if you were to just upload natively which is just... it's strange in my opinion, but whatever.

New Plans For Distributing Social Media Content

Aside from my content mix that I come up with for social media, I have new plans in how I'm going to distribute content.

My idea’s based on what I saw with Gary Vaynerchuk’s content model to do one short video per week or not per week but actually per day Monday through Friday, I'm going to continue uploading those photo snippets that I have been, and that will be once per day.

And then I will continue uploading my content and sharing that once per day and I'm not sure where I'm going to sit with the tip videos that I have or the vlogging that I'm going to do, so I don't want to over-saturate my user’s news feeds by posting way too frequently. I think about three times a day is enough without making them want to unlike or unfollow you.

But I guess I'll have to see where that goes or maybe I can extend the tip videos to start posting on the weekends to get more engagement. I've noticed that my page views on the weekend tend to dip unless people are going to be searching organically on Google during the weekends anyway, so maybe this would be a good opportunity to continue getting more engagement, heading into the weekend rather than just getting a spiking traffic throughout the week.

Creating and Planning Social Media Content Conclusion

So that's my content model in a nutshell. I hope found this insightful or helpful in planning your own social media strategy or content curation strategy. If you haven't already, be sure to give this video a like, and subscribe to the channel if you haven't already, and I will see you next time for another latest and greatest episode of digital marketing and social media news. Be sure to check out next week's podcast episode on acing an on-site job interview and last week's podcast episode on getting ready for job interviews. 

 

Equipment That I Use For Podcasting

Here's the microphone, shock mount, mic stand and accessories that I use to record my podcasts every week:

Audio-Technica ATR 2100 Dynamic Mic: https://amzn.to/2GwPLwy

Mic Arm and Wind Screen: https://amzn.to/2Ld9LYF

Pop Filter: https://amzn.to/2Lda0Tz

Sennheiser HD 598 SR Openback Headphones: https://amzn.to/2IzdaPu

In 2014 Google announced its intent to make the internet more secure through migrating specific websites from HTTP to HTTPS.

As of 2017 the number of encrypted site traffic has surpassed that of unencrypted site traffic, providing the sites that utilize HTTPS increased reliability and perceived security for user data compared to those that don’t.

Google also factors HTTPS in its algorithm for SEO, highlighting the importance of using HTTPS for your website.

HTTPS Terms You Should Know

There is a lot of confusion regarding the difference between HTTP and HTTPS, so let’s walk through the key differences between the two protocols:

Why Is HTTPS Important?

Why Making The Switch From HTTP to HTTPS Is Important

Google ranks sites that utilize HTTPS as more relevant to searchers as those websites display a higher level of integrity compared to ones that only use HTTP.

For e-commerce websites, using HTTPS is critical in protecting a shopper’s information so shoppers have a safe experience compared to perusing and inputting confidential information through shady online retailers.

The Google Chrome web browser will display a green padlock that shows a site is “secure” alongside labeling “https” before the URL.

Sites that aren’t secure will display an “I” with an explanation as to why the site isn’t secure, or a red triangle if a website poses an even greater security threat.

How HTTPS Impacts SEO

How Making the Switch From HTTP to HTTPS Will Impact Your SEO

From an SEO standpoint, Google will often rank sites with HTTPS higher than ones that don’t, but only if the content itself is relevant. Many marketers associate Google’s PR campaign as site shaming to entice users to make the switch from http to https.

As of 2017 50 percent of page one search results are https; based on these results, having https on your website won’t seriously impact your SEO if your content is relevant.

Google is fighting the long war for https conversion and is trying to strike a balance; on the hand, if they reward sites with HTTPS when a lot of sites aren’t using it, they risk a lot of backlash from good sites that haven’t made the switch. On the other hand, if they begin rewarding sites when a majority have already made the switch, the change in the algorithm will be moot.

Once more sites make the switch, Google will most likely turn up the volume for rewarding sites that use https, but for the time being it won’t have a significant impact on your SEO.

Converting Your Site From HTTP to HTTPS

How To Convert Your Website From HTTP to HTTPS

Luckily for users it’s a simple process to convert your website from http to https:

  1. Buy a SSL Certificate

Most web hosts will offer the option to purchase a SSL Certificate; I recommend buying from your hosting company as they’ll make sure the certificate is installed correctly on your website.

  1. Install SSL Certificate On Your Web Host Account

Again, have your host company install your SSL Certificate; if you purchased from a third party, installing the certificate on your own can be tricky and you run the risk of installing it improperly.

  1. Double Check Your Internal Linking

Before going live with the SSL Certificate, make sure that each of your URL’s has converted to https, as a mix of http and https will confuse readers and potentially cause page features to improperly load.

     4. Set up 301 redirects to search engines

By default most content management systems offer plugins that automatically redirect server traffic to the new secure protocol while alerting search engines of the switch. If your website doesn’t have a CMS, you’ll need to set up your redirects manually and alert search engines via services like Google’s Search Console of the change.

Issues You Might Face Switching To HTTPS

While there are benefits of switching from http to https, you also run a few risks that you should be aware of.

Certain shared hosting models like Bluehost and GoDaddy require a dedicated IP for SSLs, which may involve updating your DNS records if you’re changing your IP.

Like I mentioned earlier, sites on CMS platforms like Joomla or WordPress have modules and plugins to assist with converting protocols, although assets on sites that aren’t uploaded to these platforms may still direct traffic to unsecured connections. Sites that don’t use a CMS will require a manual update, requiring the assistance of tech support or transitioning to a site that uses a CMS or a plugin to ease this process.

Additionally, if you’re using third-party resources on your site that link to separate servers, they may still be accessing insecure assets that negate the use of https.

Alerting Search Engines to Your HTTPS Conversion

Once you’ve properly set up your SSL Certificate and https conversion, you need to submit a new sitemap to Google Search Console so it can recrawl your site for the Google Search Index.

Converting to HTTPS Conclusion

Using a secure protocol on your website is crucial in maintaining an air of reputability and security for your website in the eyes of your viewers.

While Google is fighting the long war, more websites are making the switch and you should be proactive in making visitors feel secure when browsing your site.

Using http is becoming outdated and may even scare away visitors when they’re faced with the threat of having their information unencrypted for unauthorized third parties to access. It’s only a matter of time before Google begins factoring https more heavily into their SEO rankings, highlighting the importance of converting before your website is impacted by the algorithm.

What did you think of this post on converting from http to https? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment’s section below! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my other posts on factors that impact SEO, ranging from site load speed to using the right keywords on your web pages.

Looking for tips on how to shoot product photography? Learn more in our latest product photography guide.

Tips on Photographing Products

2018 Photography Challenge: Product Photography Lighting

Having an array of great product shots is necessary for any local business, whether you use them in your advertising efforts or as images for your online store.

The biggest consideration you should make when shooting products is the lighting you’re using to capture the details of your product. Most photographers will utilize window light, but a best practice is to avoid photographing at night or using indoor lights. You can also use a white backdrop with studio lights, but this isn’t necessary.

If you’re using window lighting, it’s important to be consistent and shoot at similar times if you’re taking photos on different days. Low key photography may be an option if you're looking to create a harsher contrast and tone in your product photo.

Another consideration is how close up you want to shoot your products. Most photographers will use a 50mm 1.8 aperture lens, but it all depends on what details you want to highlight in your product.

Using a 50mm lens is great for making the details sharp while creating a bokeh effect, blurring out the background to draw more attention to the subject of your photo.

Even if you don’t have a DSLR camera, you can still get away with using a phone that’s equipped with a good camera like the Samsung Galaxy S9, Google Pixel 2 or iPhone X if you have good lighting.

This Week’s Product Photography Challenge

Product Photography Rose of Sharon

I had a lot of fun shooting this week. There were two different ideas that came to mind; the first was to take car rim shiner and place it in front of my car. Considering how dirty my car is, I decided to go out into the backyard and shoot around in the garden instead.

Our Rose of Sharon are in full bloom, making for an aesthetically pleasing composition. I used my macro lens for the roses and incorporated the rule of thirds to make room for the product and text in my photo.

I shot a second photo of the product, Schultz Plant Food, and superimposed the product into my Rose of Sharon photo. I’m happy with how this week’s challenge prompt turned out, but the editing work was a pain and a half.

Product Editing Work Behind the Scenes

If you haven’t watched my editing video already, here are the color edits that I made for the Rose of Sharon photo:

After I performed my color editing, I dragged both photos into Adobe Photoshop. It was a relatively simple process to superimpose the Plant Food product on top of the Rose of Sharon photo using the magnetic tool to cut out the background.

Initially I tried using the quick selection tool, but the results were horrendous. After using the magnetic tool I tweaked the placement and size of the plant food, then exported the photo over to Canva to add text.

I used Lato Heavy and italicized it, placing the text in the black part of the background for optimal transparency.

The hardest part of the editing was grabbing the product from the second photo I shot. Using the quick selection tool was a nightmare and I wasted nearly an hour trying to pull the product as cleanly as possible; the edges weren’t straight no matter how hard I tried to clean everything up.

Product Photography Header Photo
Here's the finished product for this week's photo challenge!

More Photography Guides

Hi there and welcome back for week 20 of the 2018 photography challenge! This week explores angles photography and shooting your subjects from a low angle.

From Below

Get down low; below 2 feet and change your perspective. Look out or look up.

The challenges for each week are also divided into categories.

The category for this week is...

Composition

Composition refers to the way the various elements in a scene are arranged within the frame. Challenges will focus on setting up the shot and developing our personal composition styles; styles which can become our trademark. Developing your Composition will allow you to set the stage to generate a reaction from your audience.

Angles Photography Techniques

There are various angles in a photographer’s bag of tricks that can create different emphasis on the subjects in a photo.

Low Angle Photography

2018 Photography Challenge: Low Angles Photography

For the purposes of this photo challenge I utilized a low angle in my subject, which creates an effect of importance, power and stature. If you have a distracting background, shooting low allows you to capture the sky and minimize the noise depending on what’s going on in the scenery.

In relation to the subject, the viewer may feel powerless or weak, or it can evoke a sense of wonder and awe if you’re performing urban photography in a metropolitan area. Using the technique will allow the viewer to have a more down-to-earth perspective in relation to the area you’re shooting.

Low angle photography is also great at capturing reflections as well as adding a sense of depth and perspective when used in conjunction with strong leading lines.

If your focus is a person, it’s important to shoot low below waist level and to make sure you aren’t shooting straight up their nose.

High Angle Photography

2018 Photography Challenge: High Angles Photography

Shooting at high angles will achieve an opposite effect when compared to shooting at low angles. For headshots it’s recommended that you shoot at just above a person’s eye level, which de-emphasizes the rest of their facial features and makes them appear smaller in contrast to their eyes.

If you’re shooting from above a subject, it can cause the rest of their body to appear smaller than their head, which can be used for a more comical effect in your photography.

For urban photography, shooting the landscape at a high angle will convey a sense of freedom while a bird’s eye view from an airplane will make the landscape appear unfamiliar to the viewer.

High angle photography will make the viewer feel powerful and dominant compared to their subject as they’re looking down upon them, whereas low angle photography makes the subject appear dominant and powerful.

Front Angle Photography

2018 Photography Challenge: Front Angles Photography

Shooting a subject from straight on might feel like an honest, non-deceptive point of view, but it creates the perception that the viewer is aware of the subject and the subject is aware of the viewer. Shooting at this angle puts both the subject and the viewer on an equal playing field, creating that sense of awareness.

In some circumstances the attitude of the subject can appear confrontational or aggressive depending on their body language. The subject of the photo doesn’t have to be looking straight at the camera lens to achieve this effect. Even in non-sentient objects shooting at a front angle can make you feel as though it’s aware of you.

Point of View Angle Photography

2018 Photography Challenge: Point of View Angles Photography

Using this technique can create a similar sense of awareness as front angle photography. This plays into objective vs. subjective photography, where the viewer might feel like they’re standing right beside the subject, but if the subject is interacting with an object or subject outside of the frame the viewer will have the sense of being an unnoticed player when viewing the photo.

Often used in event photography such as weddings, if a photographer uses this angle the viewer will have the impression of being “right there” without being noticed.

Rear Angle Photography

2018 Photography Challenge: Rear Angles Photography

Shooting from behind a subject is a secretive technique, making the viewer feel as though the subject is unaware of our presence. It can cause us to feel physically and emotionally distant to the subject; depending on the proximity, shooting from a rear angle can cause a very subjective experience to the individual viewer.

Tilted Angle Photography

2018 Photography Challenge: Tilted Angles Photography

This type of angle is interesting in that it can be used in different ways. It can add a sense of uniqueness and energy to the photo, especially when used in contrast to the negative space in relation to the subject.

We often tilt our heads when pondering something quizzical, creating a unique dimension in our photos. Tilted angles are also great when used in conjunction with leading lines, but it should be used in moderation so the photo doesn’t seem artificial or manufactured by extreme tilts.

Long or Wide View Angle Photography

2018 Photography Challenge: Long View Angles Photography

Using a long or wide field of view is a technique used by cinematographers. It creates a sense of separation, as if the viewer is a spectator on the sidelines. Long or wide view angle photography is great for landscapes or urban settings, whether it’s shooting the horizon or a city line.

You can also use the medium view angle to achieve a similar effect, where the viewer feels as though they’re more involved in the unfolding scene while still being withdrawn from it as an unnoticed observer.

Narrow View Angle Photography

2018 Photography Challenge: Narrow View Angles Photography

In contrast with the angles mentioned in the previous section, narrow view angles are great for close ups and capturing little details and the emotions of a subject. It can also give the impression that we know the personality of the subject and who they are as a person.

For macro photography narrow view angles can evoke the feeling of a viewer blending or becoming lost in the photo.

My Experience With Angles Photography

2018 Photography Challenge: Angles Photography Header Photo

Given the number of different angles available, this photo challenge prompt focused on strictly using low angles for the subject in our photo.

I had plans this weekend to go out into the woods and snap a few photos, but unfortunately the weekend forecast called for plenty of rain, squashing that idea outright.

Luckily I had a few photos from my dealership visits in New Mexico and Colorado that incorporated the use of low angles, so I decided to reuse those for this week’s photo challenge.

On the lot of my one of my dealers they had a few Silverado 1500’s half positioned from a higher angle on a cement block, where the bed was propped up to emphasize functionality and a heightened sense of size.

2018 Photography Challenge: Angles Photography Photo 2

I squatted down to shoot low, which added to that sense of size and power of the trucks in relation to the viewer of the photos.

In hindsight I should have sat lower; being decked out in a suit while shooting in 100 degree weather made me less inclined to get “down and dirty” for those shots.

I’m very pleased with how the photos turned out, especially with the sunburst metallic orange of the one truck drawing the viewer in with the sharp backdrop of the sky overhead. Everything looks crisp, but the truck really stands out.

Angle Photography Edits

If you haven’t check out my editing video already, here are the edits I made in this week’s photos:

First Photo Edits:

Second Photo Edits:

More Photography Guides

As the controversy surrounding Facebook continues to spark public interest, the FB development team is creating a Time Well Spent feature as part of their recent efforts to protect the social media community instead of maximizing profits through meaningful time spent on the platform.

How the Time Well Spent App works

Facebook to Introduce Time Well Spent Feature for Mobile App Photo 3

In Facebook’s Android app lies an unreleased “Your Time on Facebook” feature that tallies how much you spent on the Facebook mobile app in the last seven days.

The feature allows users to set self-imposed time limits, which then notifies a user when they’ve reached that limit.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the feature developed in an interview with Tech Crunch, stating “We’re always working on new ways to help make sure people’s time on Facebook is time well spent.”

Time Well Spent Available on Mobile App

iOS and Android will have different screen time monitoring dashboards that can either alert you or lock you out of the app after a set allotment of time.

Instagram has similar plans to launch their own variant of Facebook’s Time Well Spent feature.

“It’s true… We’re building tools that will help the IG community know more about the time they spend on Instagram—any time should be positive and intentional,” Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom confirmed in a statement with Tech Crunch. “Understanding how time online impacts people is important, and it’s the responsibility of all companies to be honest about this. We want to be part of the solution. I take that responsibility seriously.”

Why Facebook is Making Changes For Meaningful Engagement

Facebook to Introduce Time Well Spent Feature for Mobile App Photo 2

Facebook has slowly been transitioning from the meaningless to the meaningful, encouraging posts that foster conversation and engagement while punishing posts that fail to do this, or “hack” their way to the top of the newsfeed.

“By making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down,” Zuckerberg wrote during his announcement of various Facebook algorithm newsfeed changes. “But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.”

With emphasis on meaningful time and engagement on the platform, Facebook has attempted other features such as having professional news outlets display in an Explore Feed on the platform and introducing a downvote button in the comments sections of posts on Facebook Pages.

Whether these features will have an impact on how users interact on the platform is hard to say, but Zuckerberg seems to be holding fast to his commitment of ensuring that users are spending their time on Facebook meaningfully without falling prey to the pseudo-news practices that have plagued the FB community.

Time Well Spent Feature Recap

What do you think of Facebook’s development of the Time Well Spent feature? I would love to hear your thought’s in the comments section below!

 

Google Analytics is often used to track external traffic and how customers are interacting with various elements of your website. From a business standpoint, however, having your employees generating hits when browsing your site can be problematic when analyzing areas of opportunity to improve the sales funnel and points of customer conversion. Luckily there’s an easy way to block yourself from Analytics data, which I’ll explore in this post.

Create an IP address filter

Creating an IP address filter is simple when trying to prevent internal traffic from influencing your GA data reports. In my previous post I explored creating a filter to remove spam traffic and those steps are similar when creating a filter for your IP address.

  1. To create an IP filter, you will first create a new filter for your view by clicking the “Admin” Settings.
  2. In the account column, click “All Filters” and proceed to click “ +New Filter.”
  3. Select Create New Filter and enter a name for that filter.
  4. Out of the predefined filter types, select “Predefined Filter.”
  5. From the Select filter drop-down menu, select “Exclude” and click the “Select source or destination” drop-down menu to find the “traffic from IP addresses” option.

Click the Select expression drop-down menu with the expression “Equal To”. After this, enter your IP address. If you aren’t sure what your IP address is, you can Google “What is my IP address” and it will be the first search result.

Google Analytics Excluding Internal Traffic Photo block yourself from analytics

Things to Note When Creating an IP Address Filter

Like I mentioned in my previous post, creating a filter won’t remove any data that has been processed by Google Analytics. It will only begin filtering out hits from internal traffic after the filter has been added.

You also want to make sure that you have your original data for reference in case the filter isn’t working properly so your data isn’t skewed. The filter may take 24 hours to take effect, so be sure to check back in and make sure it’s working properly after 24 hours.

If you want to look at a side-by-side comparison of your internal traffic, you can create a new view for that filter in the “View Settings” and applying a “pre-existing filter.”

Google Analytics Excluding Internal Traffic Photo block yourself from analytics

When comparing your overall traffic, you can also create a “Custom Segment” in the “Audience Overview” tab by following the following steps:

  1. In your Audience Reporting View, click on “Add Segment” and select “New Segment.” You can name this new segment “No Spam” or “Referral Spam.”
  2. Select Advanced Conditions on the left side of the segment options.
  3. Select “Sessions” and “Exclude” in your filter options.
  4. Select “Source” and “Exactly Matches To”.
  5. In the box next to “Exactly Matches To,” copy and paste your IP address.
  6. Save this segment.
Creating Custom Segment With Internal Traffic Photo block yourself from analytics

Browser Extensions For Excluding Yourself from Site Data

If you don’t want to take the time to set up filters in Google Analytics or you’re using a VPN to connect to the internet, there are various browser extensions available to use.

While there are extensions available to block the GA javascript on all websites like Google Analytics Opt-Out Add-On, if you want to exclude yourself from only your own site data I recommend using “Block Yourself From Analytics.”

It’s simple to use in that you only click a button once you’re on the website you want to exclude your data from.

Creating an Internal Filter Recap

I hope that you found this post to be helpful in filtering out your internal traffic from your Google Analytics Data! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my other GA post on setting benchmarks to compare your site performance to the competition.

 

Hi there and welcome back to another exciting episode of Lounge Talk With Laz. In this week’s episode we'll be discussing considerations for when you apply for a new position with the company and how to get a job interview. Let's just jump right into it.

So this podcast episode, kind of spurred from a conversation that I was having with one of my peers who was looking for a new position in a different company that she currently works for, and it kind of got me thinking about my process after I graduated from college, and finished the Digital Marketing Clinic at Spark, regarding what I did to optimize my resume, my social media presence, my portfolio, my website and some other things that I included when I went to go interview or apply for a job. 

Optimizing Your Resume

The biggest thing that you should focus on is optimizing your resume based on the job that you're applying for. Work experience is the main priority on your resume and you should only have relevant work experience when you're applying for a specific job. So, if I'm applying for something in the digital marketing or advertising field, my journalism experience or my sales experience, I like Gordon Food Service or Bath & Body Works might not be relevant when listing, unless I am significantly lacking in jobs that I have that are relevant to the position I’m applying for. A lot of candidates struggle when listing their work experience in the resumes.

Each job position should have three to five job accomplishments that are concise and clearly demonstrate what an applicant did in their role. Quantifiable metrics are also great to include if they are available but key words are especially important in showing recruiters an applicant would make a great fit for the position. It's also important to use active verbs, and make sure that every section in the resume is written in the same tense.

But when I've looked at resumes in the past with other peers, the biggest issue that I always saw was that their work experience had bullet points for three to five things, but they were basically re-hashing what was written on the application guide when you go to apply for the job.

Showcasing Your Job Accomplishments

They essentially just re-listed the job duties, and that really doesn't prove anything to a recruiter and sure, they might work for the keywords that a recruiter is looking for when they're pulling applications and resumes, but what your work experience should entail is again, it should be looked at as an accomplishment, and not just as a job, duty.

You should have the mentality going into it of what was I proud of that I did at this job and throw that into your resume. As an example, I won various awards when I was a news editor at the Eastern Echo, I increased the Facebook following presence by five hundred likes in the span of three to four months.

If we're looking at it from my time as a district digital manager at General Motors, I increased year over year metrics for my district by as wide of margins as 42-100 percent year over year for email leads, phone calls, site visits, mobile traffic, that sort of thing. That's significant, in my mind, and I'm very proud of the work that I put in. And that's how it should be reflected in your job accomplishments on your resume.

Questions You Should Ask Yourself

Lounge Talk With Laz: How to Get a Job Interview | Ep. 16 Questions To Consider When Writing Your Resume


When I was at Spark and the Center for Digital Engagement, we had a talent recruiter who owns her own company, Amy Cell of Amy Cell Talent, come in and talk to us about how to optimize our resumes when applying for jobs and to help come up with these accomplishments, she had mentioned several questions that applicants should be asking themselves. What did I do that was above and beyond my normal duties?

How did I stand out among other employees? Was I recognizable by a supervisor for a job done? When, did I meet or exceed goals or quotas? Did I win any awards or accolades? Did I save the company money? What made me really great at my job?  Any software programs and tools that I used, which are necessary for the job? You should be asking yourself those questions and providing the answers as job accomplishments in your resume.

Work experience is the most important part of the resume but there are other things that you should be adding too, especially your education section.

What To Include For Education On Your Resume

The proper place for the education section, on a resume is dependent on the level of job experience and if a candidate recently graduated Those with a lot of work experience can place their education after the experience at the bottom. What with advance degrees, going before undergrad degrees GPAs may be included, but I personally don't see it relevant, if you either have considerable work experience, or if you've been out of college for more than a year. Recruiters and hiring managers don't care about your GPA, after you graduated. They care about the degree that you or that you earned, I should say, they care about your work experience, and what you've done, and GPA doesn't mean anything. And I've kind of ragged on that in previous podcast episodes and posts where you can grind away at looking at books and learning in the classroom but that doesn't necessarily carry into how functional you are in the real world.

Civic Engagement and Professional Certifications

Lounge Talk With Laz: How to Get a Job Interview | Ep. 16 Checking Your Resume For Keywords/Buzzwords


After work experience and your education, you should be listing anything that you've been doing outside of work in terms of certifications that you've earned. So, as an example, I have certifications in the SPARK and Center for Digital Engagement and I earned that after the end of the summer clinic in 2007, I believe, and I also earned certifications in Google Analytics and Google Adwords.

And I'm currently working toward getting re-certified in those as well as earning certifications and HubSpot and Facebook blueprint.

And you definitely want to add those on your resume. It looks good. And especially if you're going into digital marketing, you want to be certified in AdWords and Analytics. A lot of companies actually have certain criteria for the number of employees that they have, who are certified, so they can talk to clients and say, "Hey we have a 90 percent AdWords and Analytics certification rate with our employees, so we know what we're talking about.”

It also looks good in terms of those keywords, that I mentioned. It’s kind of like search engine optimization to a point where recruiters are looking for certain keywords and buzzwords whether it's in your education section in terms of where you graduated from, what you graduated with, when you graduated, where you're located, as well as other jobs, including that of competitors for what they're hiring for and this kind of ties in with the job accomplishments where you want to tie in those accomplishments with kind of the job duties or the skill section of what a job application or the requirement section of the application, has in what they're looking for, for an employee who is applying for the job.

A lot of recruiters actually use automation systems, from what I understand, whether on LinkedIn or in their database to pull for those keywords. And if your resume is not loaded, or crawlable, for those keywords, then it'll automatically be sent to the bottom of the list unless somebody hand picks and hand looks at it.

Two other things that you should be adding to your resume, in terms of those sections are skills that you have, again to show that you have the qualifications for the job and to make your resume crawlable or searchable through those keywords and to also include civic engagement or any professional groups that you're part of, as an example. I am part of the Public Relations Society of America the Detroit chapter and I have that included my resume and I've also included the civic engagement that I've had doing volunteer work, whether for General Motors or during my time at the university, Eastern Michigan University.

The civic engagement part isn't super important but it shows that you're going above and beyond outside of work and kind of adds a bit of personality and color to your resume for when a recruiter is looking at it.

Different Resume Layouts to Consider For Work Experience

When looking at all these sections, there are a few formats to consider when laying the work experience on a resume; there's a chronological functional and combination. Chronological is the most common format among job seekers, as the experience section, lists a candidate's past jobs reverse chronologically. Functional resume focuses on skills and experience rather than the timeline of an applicant’s work history making it useful for job seekers who are changing careers have gaps or history or have experienced that isn't related to the position.

A combination resume or hybrid is that kind of happy medium as it highlights relevant skills while providing enough information about a candidates history.

Beyond this, the aesthetic design of the resume is also kind of important.

You can either have it functionally designed, where it kinda is industry or business standard with 11 to point type face and very easy, readable font like even Times New Roman something boring like that.

Or if you're aesthetically inclined, you can take the time to design your own resume to make it stand out amongst the dozens of other ones that are being sent in for recruiters to look at.

If you are not aesthetically inclined, then you can actually buy designs online at various websites. And the other consideration too, is to make sure that your resume, unless you have about five to seven years of experience, to have it only on a single page or so, and to effectively optimize the amount of space that you're using on that one page to get as much in as possible without making it feel crammed or really messy. It should be neat, organized, and it should have everything important that you want just page one and all of our important accolades, and achievements, very easy, readable, bullet point, short concise sentences in the same tense and laid out either chronologically or reverse chronologically or just having all the important information at the top first.

It is especially important as recruiters may spend as little as three seconds reviewing a resume before they stop reading all together.

Building Out Your LinkedIn Account

Lounge Talk With Laz: How to Get a Job Interview | Ep. 16 Getting Up Your LinkedIn For Keywords/Buzzwords


The next consideration that should have when applying for a job outside of your resume optimization is making sure that you have a LinkedIn that you're connected with a lot of people and that it's kind of built out like your resume.

Your LinkedIn is another chance to garner more recruiters looking at your page and it should be optimized just as efficiently and effectively as your resume is. Include all of your relevant experience, you should have your certifications listed, you should have your civic engagement there, you should try to get recommendations from other people and give recommendations. You should have your bio laid out, so that it is catered toward getting those keywords crawled for kind of LinkedIn’s SEO. You should have a professional profile picture.

You should also have your resume and any relevant professional social media handles, or pictures of your certifications, included on your profile for that authenticity and for recruiters to have a chance to look at your resume and potentially reach out to you and say, “Hey, we want this person as a candidate for this position.”

There are two other hacks that you can kinda have to get a leg up on the competition in LinkedIn. The first is turning on in your settings, the “looking for new opportunities” button. What this does is lets recruiters know that you're looking for a new opportunity.

So as they're looking for potential candidates who might make a good fit and they come across your profile they know that you're looking for something and they will reach out to you and say, "Hey we have this job available. Would you be interested in applying for it, or sending your resume and cover letter into us.”

The second is making sure that whenever you update your profile, that it is shared to your connections and obviously you don't want to spam them, as you're building out your profile initially, but let's say you change your job position or you add a new certification or add a new document to your LinkedIn, having this button or the setting enabled will share it with your connections and it will give you a potential bump and who is visiting your profile.

Creating A Digital Portfolio Of Your Work

Lounge Talk With Laz: How to Get a Job Interview | Ep. 16 Showcasing Your Work With a Digital Portfolio


The third consideration that you should have when applying for a new job is to have a digital portfolio readily available showcasing your talents or your work. And I personally think that people who have a digital portfolio have a significant leg up compared to people who don't because you can showcase to your recruiters or your hiring managers that you have relevant experience and have work that you can show them as to what you performed in previous positions compared to people who don't have anything at all, and it's just kind of them walking the walk and talking the talk, so to speak.

Without going into too deep of a dive here, it's important that when you're making your digital portfolio, that you have only the best work, posted on that portfolio.

As one of my peers had said in the past, you will be judged based on your worst piece, so to speak. If I was posting some design work and a lot of it is good and maybe one or two pieces are bad, you will be judged based on that worst piece that you posted on your portfolio, so just keep that mind, keep it up-to-date, relevant and just have your best work possible to have that perception of professionalism.

Adding A Cover Letter For the Final Touch

Lounge Talk With Laz: How to Get a Job Interview | Ep. 16 Aligning Your Cover Letter With Your Resume


The final recommendation that I have, when applying for a job, is to have a cover letter attached to it. I personally feel as though cover letters are antiquated in that no one reads them, but it doesn't hurt. It should just be quick concise to the point, you should talk about the job itself, a little bit why you think you would be a great fit, maybe the company culture or things that stood out to you when applying forward that job and just leaving it off saying, “I look forward to talking more with you as it pertains to your needs, best regards,” blah, blah, and your cover letter and your resume should kind of tie into one another. And you should also have your contact info listed on both so your name, your email, address, your contact for your phone number. And any professional social media handles.

Because social media is such a big factor nowadays a lot of people will look at your social media to see if you are a thought leader of sorts, and obviously they're gonna look to see what kind of person you are, outside of work, if you're bad mouthing companies and what have you. So, keep professional there. It doesn't hurt to include your Instagram or Twitter handle if that is specially tying into your professional view points as a knowledge or thought leader in the industry. And I also have my portfolio and my website listed in my resume and my cover letter, to... and when you're listing these links and these URLS, you should make them interactive. And so some if you were to go to click on them it would just instantly take them to that URL for that page instead of them having to type it in or copy and paste just to make it easier on them.

Again, recruiters spend so little time reviewing a resume, if they do take the time to stop and read and look at your stuff, you should make it as easy of a experience as possible, and that kind of ties into a digital marketing best practice, where you want to lead your user to your desired action and as few clicks as possible.

And that's all the time I have for this week’s Lounge Talk With Laz. Hopefully you found the tips in this video to be helpful and if you did find them to be helpful, I can always do a bit more deep dive into the specifics with a cover letter building on your LinkedIn doing whatever with your portfolio and having that looking professional and ready to show hiring recruiters and hiring managers.

Lounge Talk With Laz: How to Get a Job Interview Recap

What did you think of this week's episode of Lounge Talk With Laz? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below! If you haven't already, be sure to check out my podcast episode on how to repurpose content for social media and last week's podcast episode where I explored the value of earned media with CDK Global.

 

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