Reader Engagement Recap - August Brunch

Q1: Blog Comments: What platform (ex: disqus, facebook) do you use? What are your do’s & don’ts to responding to feedback/comments?

@ParkerEtc @Squarespace’s platform is seriously user intuitive. I’ve never had to think of implementing any other platforms.

@floralandfrayed: I installed disqus after a previous brunch at the suggestion of @17thandIrving since then I’ve had more engagement than ever

@inspiredtoshare: I simply use Wordpress and I try my best to respond to thoughtful, constructive comments or questions!

@17thandIrving: I use @disqus. It’s easy to manage and allows you to sign in with a Twitter/Facebook/Disqus account. Great spam protection.

@muellermm: I use the “Social” plugin for wordpress, which automatically pulls likes & comments from Facebook + mentions from Twitter

@Chelsea_Costa: I try to respond to every comment I can! To me, the woke point is to actually converse with readers

@writeousbabe: I also try to comment on the blogs of readers who comment on mine.

@caseemarie I implemented a FB commenting plugin with my standard system (self-hosted WP) and I saw interaction from Facebook right away.

@prettyandfun Don’ts: don’t bother responding to negative comments, just ignore them. Not worth fighting!

‪@lalalovelythngs It’s IMPORTANT to always reply to someone who has a question or makes a point that contributes to the conversation.

@BudgetFairyTale If I know they are on Twitter, I’ll also thank them for their comment on Twitter. Please like to see their name mentioned!

@hello_vanny: I also LOVE when I receive emails that someone has replied to a comment I’ve left on their blog.


Q2: What’s the best way to connect with your readership outside of your blog platform? 

@mackenziehoran: Twitter for a quick hello, email for questions & to discuss collaborations, & of course in person when possible!

@amymoorestudio: Nothing beats IRL meetups!! I’ve met some of my best friends from blogging! :)

@StudioDIY: Twitter has been my biggest way to engage. I’ve found Instagram great too! People LOVE seeing sneak peeks of what’s to come! #blogbrunch

@17thandIrving: Twitter. I’ve become good friends with people that commented on my blog once!

@ParkerEtc: Make time to meet up when the opportunity arises. Coffee, cocktail hour or invitation to an event youre hosting.

@mspinkandblue I love email! It feels so personal, Ive definitely emailed as a response to a tweet or comment and had positive results.


Q3: Being a Blogger can be BUSY, how do you organize/manage submissions, requests, contacts, emails & questions from your readers?

BestofthisLife: I block off time to do certain things: post brainstorm, photography, visiting blogs, email response. Schedule it in!

HitchDesign: I try to keep template emails to help save time on responses.

InspiredtoShare: I do my best to respond within 24 hours but in the end we’re all human and it’s ok if life getsin the way! Just be genuine.

PinegateRoad: @TeuxDeux is a godsend. If it doesn’t go on there, it doesn’t get done.

MsPinkandBlue: Twitter lists are great for organizing contacts! (just be careful what you name them, everyone can see)

MackenzieHoran: Email folders, iCal reminders, and making a concerted effort to keep my inbox under 50 emails at all times!

Sister_Mag: Can I confess: sometimes I use a paper pad ;)

FloralandFrayed: My readership is a bit smaller so I do my best to answer emails as they come in.

AlliePal: All my contact forms go to one email and I respond at the end of the day. I schedule guest posts on Google Cal.

LaLaLovelyThngs: Using gmail is a great way to stay on top of things. Creating Folders, Filters and Color Coding E-mails.


Q4: What’s the best way to receivefeedback from your readers, and how much do you tailor your content to your readership?

17thandIrving: Comments are like bits of encouragement. That’s why I leave them for others & respond to mine.

ScoutRentals: I propose questions to my readers at ends of posts where I feel like additional engagement would enhance the topic overall.

Chelsea_Costa: Important to give your readers what they need and want, but more important to stay true to your voice and vision.

ParkerEtc: I simply adore emails from readers on anything. Advice, questions, photo & layout inquires.

Carbarton: I check analytics to see what my readers respond most to, but it doesn’t define my blog or my content!

NessaBirdie: There has to be a balance. You don’t want to completely change for your readers. You will begin to loose your voice!

HelenaMarie: I think you have to strike a balance between “posts that will get hits” and “posts that you love to write” to staygenuine.

OfAnselm: If we didn’t want readers we’d keep locked journals. Tailoring to the readers (at least to a point) is important to blogging.

FreeSpiritReign: Comments on posts! They make such a difference in knowing what content is being read.

BudgetFairyTale: I pay attention to what people are responding to on FB, Twitter, Pinterest & look for a pattern, and tailor my posts to them.


Q5: Does your blog content affect the way you communicate on your social media? What’s the best way to track your social media engagement?

@bestofthislife I post from the heart & when others can relate to a subject, I ask if they want more of it. That can be inspiration or a recipe!

@ParkerEtc I never track engagement by numbers. Track it with depth of relationships.

@elembee_ I try to look for ways to expand my content across other social media channels, offer something extra or start a conversation.

@HitchDesign I focus as much of my social media on showing an extension of the content I supply day to day.

@mackenziehoran I started a “tell me about yourself” feature to learn more about my readers & what they love! http://bit.ly/MFiopO

@mspinkandblue I track with @sproutsocial often and Google. It can connect with your analytics!

@carbartonI try to maintain the same personality across platforms. My voice is my brand, and I keep it consistent.

@floralandfrayed Blogging for me is about making connections. I try to post things that will build those connections.

@Chelsea_Costa When YOU are your brand, everything you put into the world is what builds your brand. Make sure it’s a good representation.

@arashmazinani I check the Facebook pages stats and followers. But you have to engage to be engaged, its no good sitting back and waiting

@ohmyhandmade I build engagement by being deeply interested in the stories of others & creating spaces for those stories to be shared 

@alliepal Lastly, I need to be a dedicated reader of OTHER blogs to stay relevant & part of a community. I’ve met amazing people.

Blogger of the Month: Colleen Ludovice

We are so excited to have Colleen Ludovice of Inspired to Share as our Blogger of the Month! We met Colleen at Alt. Summit and we just can’t get over her genuine, spunky personality. Trust us when we say she’s a sweetheart! We have always appreciated how Colleen engages with her readers, whether it’s a wonderfully curated post or a quick tweet. Her content is always spot on and in step with her creative life. We suggest checking her out! But first, read a little more about her:


What advice do you have to other bloggers?

My advice would be to find your focus and niche. With so many blogs out there, you have to know what you want and work to make that clear to others, too. Remember that everything you do and share is a reflection of you and your brand. Be genuine, stay true to yourself, and always remember why you started blogging in the first place. There are so many people doing amazing things and it’s easy to fall into the comparison trap, but try to stay true to your voice and vision. Think of your blog as a way to live and represent the best version of yourself that you can be!

What sparks an idea for a post?  

So many things! While I could easily get lost in inspiration online on other blogs and Pinterest (and often do), a lot of my inspiration comes from life and relationships. I try to live a simple and creative life that appreciates the details. This often means stepping away from the computer, getting outside, trying a new project, going for a bike ride, taking photos, or exploring a new place. Inspiration is everywhere! For me, ideas are always flowing, but the real challenge lies in refining those ideas and actually making them happen.

When you are not blogging what are you doing?

When I’m not blogging, I’m usually taking photos, cooking with my husband, practicing yoga, reading, watching a Friends rerun (I’m obsessed), or spending time with friends and family. Lately, I’ve also been working on a complete redesign of my blog and starting my freelance graphic design and styling career!

Ideally, how do you see blogging impacting your career/future?

Blogging has unexpectedly had a huge impact on my career. I majored in business in college and always saw myself as a business woman. However, after working my first corporate job, I quickly realized that it wasn’t for me. This resulted in a lot of soul searching, and blogging along the way. I realized that I love my blog because it’s something that is completely mine. In other words, blogging made me realize that I want to work for myself! When I first started blogging I always posted the work of other creatives, but over time, I’ve grown and realized that in addition to having my blog as a business, I want to be one of those creatives! Blogging has allowed me to experiment with design, connect with other creatives, and it’s given me the confidence to create and pursue my dream job. A few years ago I never would have thought that I would be designing a website and launching my own freelance career. While sometimes I wish I started my education and career with a clearer focus, I’m thankful that I’ve been able to realize what I want fairly quickly in the grand scheme of life. :)

Has Blog Brunch changed the way you blog or think about blogging?

Totally! I’ve found it so helpful to connect with other bloggers. After each Brunch I learn so much and leave inspired with a better sense of our blogging community. The blogosphere is constantly changing and it’s incredibly helpful to talk about the topics that so many of us deal with every day. We all have questions and something to offer, so why not help each other? Blog Brunch is a great way to stay current on the latest trends in blogging, meet others, and experience community.

What suggestions do you have for other bloggers on how to increase their reader engagement?

I would say to first of all focus on your content: be consistent and be true to yourself. Post about what inspires you and not what you think will help your traffic/comments/etc. Second, read and respond to your blog comments (in a timely manner!). This is something I really make an effort to do; it shows that you truly value your readers. While I don’t respond to every single comment, I try my best to respond to the ones I appreciate and value. It’s a great way to generate discussion and create a sense of community. I would also recommend maintaining an active presence in social media. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are all essentials now! I have met and connected with so many bloggers and creatives through each of these mediums- they are invaluable! Use each of them to not only promote your blog and share new content, but to give others a glimpse of your life and who you are. 

What routes of engaging with your readers do you feel have been most successful?

I think Twitter is by far my favorite way to engage with readers. It’s such a quick and easy way to ask questions and get feedback on new ideas. I’ve learned that, like most of social media, you’ll get out of it what you put in. If you take the time to respond to tweets and engage with others, it will pay off! Sometimes blogging and the online world can be isolating, and Twitter is such a great way for me to stay connected and feel part of a community. 

Have any creative opportunities arisen from being a blogger?

Yes! A lot of collaborations have come from simply being a blogger and simply being present and open to new opportunities. One time I simply tweeted that I was looking for a photographer and a tweet and an email later, a collaboration was born! It’s moments like those that make me really appreciate blogging, social media, and this crazy online world we live in. :)

Thanks Colleen!

images via Woodnote Photography

Power of the post recap - July Brunch

Q1: Staying Organized: what methods do you use to make sure you have proper prep for posts? Editorial schedules? Project Management Software?

@ElembeeEtc: I use Google Calendar to organize my editorial calendar, and Todoist to create a to-do list from there.

@_kristinb: I have a calendar to help space out my topics so I’m not repeating back to back subjects (ie: music & music)

@ParkerEtc: I use a separate planner as an editorial calendar, ideas notepad & for all things related to deadlines with the blog.

@mstetsondesign: I am an avid @teuxdeux user for daily & weekly to-dos. I use the “someday” column to list future blog posts as reminders.

@mspinkandblue: We use the editorial calendar on google calendar–it sends email updates & reminders (which is great for collaborations) and I love @asana.

@KtPrice: Wordpress Editorial Calendar is a great way to stay organized: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/editorial-calendar/ 

@FlourishCafe: I designed my own weekly blog planner 2 stay organized. It’s available here: http://bit.ly/N8wzF7

@_kristinb: Never underestimate the power of carrying a notebook friend around with you. Ideas happen anywhere.

@mstetsondesign: I also use @evernote for organizing links & content for posts. I have a note where I save links I want to blog in the future.

@BeautifulHello: I have an ever-changing “blog idea” word document and an ever-changing @Pinterest like page.

@WaitingonMartha: I love @evernote! I use it to take photos as I’m flipping through magazines or finding inspiration while out & about.

@sister_mag: We created our on Blogger Pad with weekly planner and HTML Cheat Sheet which is great tool to organize: http://bit.ly/NwCHWJ

@ParisRouzati: Sometimes, the best posts are the spontaneous ones. I love the feeling of thinking of something and running home to blog.

@freespiritreign: When I was working, I also utilized my lunch breaks for planning posts! That way some of the work was done.

 

Q2: What are the guidelines or rules for your blog posts? What has changed about your posts since you started your blog?

@inredlipstick: If I’m not inspired about what I’m about to post, I won’t post it. That is one of my #1 rules.

@KtPrice: No more fluff or fillers. I’d rather write 2 great posts a week than 5 mediocre ones.

@mspinkandblue: I ask myself, “Do I find this interesting?” I’m not going to write about something that I wouldn’t want to read.

@sister_mag: http://blog.sister-mag.com we set fixed guidelines: only content related to your mag: contributor portraits, event reports etc.

@ShrimpSalad: I used to throw all the pictures into a post chaotically, but now they’re all the same width - much more visually pleasing.

@adailysomething: Changes… I’ve become more selective with what photos I post, and I’ve narrowed down my subject matter.

@ParkerEtc: 1) Relevant & unique topic 2) Original concept & execution, especially if its a popular topic 3) Strong visuals  4) Stronger voice.

@FarandFarAway: I try not to get too wordy; let photos speak for themselves and isolate the really valuable content.

@caseemarie: My most reflective, personal content seems to draw the most conversation so I’m trying to (authentically) build that up.

@amymoorestudio: Inspiration + authenticity first. Narrow your focus and stick to what you love.

@thtrandomgirl: I used to blog just for the sake of it, but now I blog to share ideas, inspiration, news, etc.

@nattymalik: I’m also learning to create a header image for themed post so it’s pinnable.

@poppylindsay:  My number one rule is to keep pictures all the same width. It drives me nuts otherwise!

@HitchDesign: The content has to be genuine to me. Even if it is when working with a brand it must be genuine or else it won’t go up.

@punkyandthecity: P.O.S.T. Purpose/Originality/Structure/Truth. All factors that go into my posts!

@scoutrentals: Posts must be personalized in some way. i.e. why I find content interesting or pertinent to me. Try not to just post to post.

@ParisRouzati: Everyone can create outfit collages…let your voice be heard! Readers want to relate to you, otherwise they’ll move on.

@BeautifulHello: Include links to others. CREDIT the amazing images in your post. When you can, take your own pictures. Quality and class.


Q3: What are some tools or tricks you use to overcome creative blocks for your blog posts?

AudreyAllure: Sometimes a little hiatus to go out and do something helps keep me inspired.

BedSiDesign: Creating a series helps with creative blocks. It can help you focus on the concept all you have to communicate is the idea.

ParkerEtc: Readers can tell when writing is forced, so take a day off if your in a funk. Stronger content is better than more content.

BayParkDream: The biggest lesson I’ve learned: Blog because you want to, because it feels right. If you’re genuine your readers will respond.

KTPrice: Take a break and live in the real world for a while. Inspiration is Everywhere.

BeautifulHello: Keep trying new things. I show my creative process and inspiration. There is no shortage of amazing design out there.

ParkerEtc: Original ideas come from original sources. Read a book, visit the park. But never search other blogs to overcome creative funks.

Rachshingleton: Getting off the computer & having real-life adventures helps spur the creativity for blogging.

PunkyandtheCity: I GYM and I SHOWER. My best thinking happens in the shower and on the treadmill.

OfAnselm: Writing down every idea I get, when I get it. It’s great having a notebook full of ideas on reserve!

ElembeeEtc: It’s amazing how inspiring searching for the original source to an image can be – you find so much along the way!

SandRat212: Being realistic about how much time I have each week.

ChevronEclairs: Don’t go looking for blog content, it should come to you naturally.

SeemaLoni: I force myself to bring my camera wherever I go and always manage to capture some original content.

AmyMooreStudio: Do something new, go somewhere you’ve never been. Your brain needs fresh stimulation for fresh ideas.

ChevronEclairs: Take risks, it always is so much more exciting to do something different.

HitchDesign: Find people who push you creatively and you can be honest with about your blocks. Talking always helps.

Q4: Think Tanking: when developing a new idea or column, what’s your process from the initial approach to publishing the post?

ParkerEtc: Start from the end goal & work backwards. How do you ultimately want it to appear? Outline that out & then backtrack the steps

JoelleDuff: It varies. Sometimes I outline, sometimes I free write. Always write down the idea and why I want to post about it.

HitchDesign: I was bad at first, but now a column can take about a month to really develop from beginning idea to execution. 

ShadyLane14: I talk it over with my husband. His mind works differently than mine and he always expands the idea beyond what I could.

TheStarandSea: Tapping into my voice is first, from there I just try to structure so that its clear, concise, and visually interesting.

MsPinkandBlue: By writing several versions & getting trusted advice from friends on the idea I can really (almost surgically) edit the material. 

SeemaLoni: I plan out at least 10-15 post ideas before developing a new column.

FreeSpiritDesign: When I’m writing the post, I preview & edit & check it a billion times before it goes live!

ADailySomething: For DIYs, it’s trial runs before actually sitting down and photographing the whole thing. 

ElembeeEtc: I do a lot of brainstorming and think of different ways to present the information. What do I want to get out of it?

FarandFarAway: Determine what salient, helpful info I want to share, find images to tell the story, format, publish!

BayParkDream: I think each blogger does this differently. Some spontaneous: sit, write hit publish, others need time. Do what works 4 u

Carbarton: Editing is SO important. It’s hard to read something full of typos! I read my work out loud or have someone else proofread.

ParkerEtc: Be sure the topic isn’t already being done. If you find it is, brainstorm how to put your own creative + unique spin on it

_kristinB: Don’t be afraid to EVOLVE. If it’s not workin’ for you, change it up!

Q5: What qualities or elements do you like to see when reading other blogger’s posts?

@ElembeeEtc Not a fan of strict giveaway posts — tell a story, so even if I don’t want to enter, I’m still interested!

@MissMegasaurus I respond to every comment left on my blog. Makes them come back for more!

@HitchDesign Strong visuals sell me. Create something that makes me want more

@katelynbrooke88 My favorite posts happen when the blogger really puts their heart and soul into the content. Be yourself!

@mspinkandblue I think if you can communicate your point either through graphics or writing you have the makings of a good post, but HAVE A POINT.

@KtPrice I would rather read what you really think - even if I disagree - rather than what you think I want to hear!

@bygarlands Write with a voice that represents you, your interests & your inspiration! Never try to write like someone else.

@caseemarie I appreciate good writing. You don’t have to be overtly eloquent - just be polished and attentive.

@thetinyheart I love reading posts that make me laugh. A sense of humor goes a long way.

@punkyandthecity I like seeing bloggers who ask readers questions at the end of posts. It’s a great way to get readers involved & thinking.

@mspinkandblue I’m drawn to blogs with opinions & relevancy. There’s a lot going on in the world – you have a voice, tell me what you think.

@ElembeeEtc I love posts with a more conversational tone, like you’re chatting with friends.

@RavennaGirlB Something that makes me THINK. Either about myself, or “could I do that” Help me grow!

Blogger of the Month: Lindsay Thompson

We are so excited to have Lindsay Thompson of Mstetson as this month’s Blogger of the Month. She is always creating gorgeous content full of great design and wonderful images. Lindsay is sure to inspire you so we are so excited to have her during our Power of the Post month. Not only is she always creating great content but we suggest taking notes of how gorgeous her blog design is as well. Killer huh? Yeah we agree. Okay let’s hear more from this talented lady!

Is there a favorite column you write each week that you get excited about?
My blog is definitely a chronicle of my interests (graphic design, architecture, interiors, home accessories/furniture, etc.), so one season I may be extra excited about finding new-to-me architects or spaces; the next, I may be more interested in the items that fill those spaces. Beyond design-related posts, I am getting started on an “OC Favorites” column, documenting some of my most beloved spots throughout Orange County, California—we are no LA or NYC, but there are some really great sites to be seen and bites to be eaten here!

When you are not blogging what are you doing?
I am a graphic designer by trade, so my mornings usually consist of catching up on emails and my days are filled with typefaces, page layouts, and website comps. My nights, when not blogging or designing, are spent with my handsome husband, Stephan, and my two-year-old german shorthair pointer, Hazel. (I’m kind of obsessed with her—and him, too!)

Is there one thing you never leave home without?
My iPhone. It’s a love-hate relationship. I would prefer not to be tethered to that little guy all the time, but it makes it so convenient to be available to clients and feed my current VSCO Cam & Instagram addictions. Oh, and lipgloss. I probably have seven different ones floating around the bottom of my purse!

What sparks an idea for a post? 
Sometimes it is something I see while out and about or on the beloved Pinterest; other times it stems from a conversation with friends or colleagues. I  draw inspiration from all different genres and allow my blog the flexibility to highlight anything as long as it falls into my mantra of “waging a war on crime through the superb observation of quality materials, stringent guidelines for typography implementation, lifelong trade-like craftsmanship, and just plain good ideas.”

Has Blog Brunch changed the way you blog or think about blogging?
Most certainly! Even if I can’t attend Blog Brunch live, I make sure to study the recaps. The last two have been really interesting to me as I have yet to venture into video and really needed some ideas on how to better utilize my MStetson Design facebook page. Blog Brunch has helped me to be more proactive when I think about what to share and where—and how. It is also an amazing resource for finding new bloggers and their inspiring blogs. I’m always on the hunt for more inspiration, especially out of the realm of my usual design-centric sites.

Have any new creative opportunities arisen from being a “blogger”? 
I have definitely received new opportunities because of my blog. Recently, I received inquiries regarding my photography, which surprised me. I have an old Canon 20d that I use to shoot my apartment and some local spots, but would love to continue to explore interior photography—it would meld my design and blog world together. My blog has also been a great asset when I meet new design clients. They are immediately able to get a sense of my overall aesthetic and personality before even reviewing my design portfolio. 

If you could start another blog based on any topic, what would it be?
Don’t judge, k? I am 31 and am probably one of the worst cooks (my poor husband!), however I love to bake! Not that the world needs another food blog, but I think I would start one following my process of learning to cook and—to use a little inspiration from Julie&Julia—I would use my grandmother’s cookbook as my guide. Who better to teach me than my own grandmother, right?! Plus, my grandmother lived on a farm, so the recipes are full of comfort-style foods, which I love. Homemade mac-n-cheese? Enchilada Casserole? Yes, please!

Thank you so much Lindsay for being our Blogger of the Month! 

July Brunch: Questions

Hello Brunchers,

This Saturday, July 7th “The Power of the Post” will surround the subject that drives the quality of our blogs, the CONTENT! We are thrilled with the blog diversity within our community and look forward to all the feedback you have to give one another. Feel free to prep your answers with the questions below and print out the PDF sheet to write down some of your favorite tips and tweets!

Here’s what were serving up for #blogbrunch:

Q1: Staying Organized: what methods do you use to make sure you have proper prep for posts? Editorial schedules? Project Management Software?

Q2: What are the guidelines or rules for your blog posts? What has changed about your posts since you started your blog?

Q3: What are some tools or tricks you use to overcome creative blocks for your blog posts?

Q4: Think Tanking: when developing a new idea or column, what’s your process from the initial approach to publishing the post?

Q5: What qualities or elements do you like to see when reading other blogger’s posts?

Stay tuned tomorrow for the announcement of our Blogger of the Month and updates on our Facebook event page.

July Brunch

Happy Monday Brunchers,

Not too long ago the Blog Brunch Team asked all of you what you wanted to talk about next and the response was fantastic! We have now compiled the next several month’s outstanding topics thanks to all of your tweets, Facebook messages and email suggestions. This Saturday, July 7th 10 AM PST/ 1 PM EST we will be discussing “The Power of the Post” and content from all angles. There’s a great mystery surrounding the methods to which we create, schedule, organize and monitor posts, but we are ready to dive in and see how others in our community maintain great content.

Last month we had a tremendous reception with our Facebook event page so we set up another where you can RSVP, ask questions or just introduce yourself to others in the community. Don’t forget to mention your Twitter handle so we can follow you for the tweet-up on Saturday. June brought some really wonderful things including some excellent tips and guest posts (here and here) over on our blog, if you are interested in writing a feature article on Blog Brunch (relating to the month’s topic) email us with a submission proposal to get added to our editorial calendar.

We are really looking forward to this month’s topic and hope all of you are too.  As always, don’t hesitate to email us suggestions and questions you would like to see featured Saturday at Brunch!

Have a great Fourth of July,

The Blog Brunch Team

Using “Fans-Only Content” to Grow Your Facebook Following

We are so thrilled to have Kira from Her New Leaf guest posting today! Her overall knowledge on social media and interacting with her followers is superb, check it out!

In this month’s Blog Brunch, we chatted about ways to increase your following on Facebook. I believe that the best strategy to increase a following anywhere, be it on your Facebook, your blog, or in your personal life, is to be generous. Be generous with what you have and what you know. Social media is all about sharing; the reason why people are on social networks like Twitter and Facebook is to gain and share knowledge. Your Facebook page, like your blog, should teach your followers something!

But how to you get Facebook users to “like” your page and keep them coming back for more? You need to create incentive for them to do so. Using a simple Facebook app, you can create two versions of your Facebook page – one for the general public who has not yet “liked” your page, and one for those wise, wise people who have clicked the thumbs up for you! Using this app, you can create a page with exclusive content that only your Facebook fans can see.

Step 1: Install the Static HTML app onto your blog’s page. (http://apps.facebook.com/static_html_plus/)

Step 2: In the “Public Content” box, enter what you wish those people who have not yet liked your page to see. You can enter a simple text greeting, or create a graphic to illustrate what your fans will receive when they “like” your page.

Step 3: In the “Fans-Only Content” box, enter what you want your fans to see once they have “liked” your page. You can include a personal thank you, download links, or even an entire blog post available exclusively to your fans! After someone has liked your page, they will have access to your fan-gated content at any time.



What should my fans-only content be?
It’s definitely a good idea to relate your fans-only content to you current blog topics. Are you a food blogger? Offer an exclusive, original recipe. Are you a style blogger? Share your top 10 trends for the summer? Can you make graphics? Give your fans a blog-planning calendar to plan their own posts.



How does fans-only content translate into long-term fans?
I was curious about this myself – couldn’t someone just “like” my page for free stuff, then “unlike” after they get it? Sure, they definitely could, but in my experience, they don’t. My blog’s Facebook fans have nearly doubled in one month since I added fans-only content to my Facebook page. Your Facebook page can have that success too! Be generous with your readers and your audience will continue to grow.

Facebook Page 101 with Elise Grice, Social Media Expert

My name is Elise Grice (formally Elise Ostermann) and I am currently the Art Director/Co-Owner at “Hey, Sweet Pea”. Our business specializes in branding development and custom online marketing designs for websites, blogs, and social media. Our branding company is all about business health.  Just like our body needs fresh green veggies, our clients need fresh marketing/branding/design. They need fresh ideas. Our goal is to help other businesses thrive, grow, and flourish because we believe every business deserves an awesome brand.

We also believe every business should have a rocking social media presence! Long gone are the days of traditional marketing. We are in the age of DIY free marketing. Yes, it takes time, devotion, and skill, but anyone can learn how to turn their Facebook page into an extension of their brand/blog as a portal for new clients/fans and business/blog buzz.

LIKEable content


One of the first ways any brand page can create this buzz, is by creating notable content. What is that? LIKEable content is simply posts that people like to see and read. Two of my favorite Facebook pages to date are ones that post awesome and hilarious tidbits for me to chuckle over (See wordsmith rock stars:  Jasmine Star and Baby Carrots ). When I chuckle, I LIKE. I, along with many, many others, also love visual content that stirs my emotions or catches my eye. I see pages that post beautiful work, inspirational photos, or any other kind of visual eye candy and I’m instantly hooked. What do I do? I click LIKE (See visual rock stars:  Sassyfras Studios and Volume 25 ). See how that works? The first step in getting people to interact with your page is in your court. This is your page, your brand, and your image. It’s your job to create content that people see, relate with, and interact with.

REACHable curator


After you’ve created notable content, it’s your job to keep the conversation going. If someone posts on your photo or status, acknowledge that they did so! If someone writes on your content, Facebook allows you to tag them on that content afterwards! Which means you can directly respond to people who write you, by not only responding but speaking to them directly (also, this means they’ll definitely get a notification that you wrote them back)! If people are taking the time to write you, make sure to take the time to thank them, appreciate them, or answer their questions. People love knowing there is a real person who cares behind the Facebook page. So if someone writes you, seize the opportunity to connect even deeper with them!

BRANDable look


One of the best things you have going for your page, is the fact that you can now easily brand it to be visually pleasing. The cover image across the top is the perfect opportunity to showcase your work and your branding.

Tips for Branding Profile Graphic: Keep it simple, keep it clean, keep it recognizable. I think one of the best solutions to this is simply using your logo. Logos are meant to be designed in such a way that people can quickly recognize them. They’re perfect for creating brand recognition in your fan’s overwhelming news feed. And hopefully it sets you apart from all their friend’s posts (See rocking profile graphics:  We Heart Photography & The Define School ). The optimal size of your profile graphic should be 180x180 pixels.

Tips for Branding Cover Image: Keep it visually interesting! Make sure it looks balanced with your profile graphic (and that the profile graphic doesn’t cover any vital words or information) and pulls in some elements of branding and photography. Since your profile graphic is already rocking the logo, you don’t necessarily have to include that in your cover image. Instead, perhaps use an image of your products, your work, etc. and possibly your tagline. I also recommend using a photo on the left side and branding elements/words on the right, that way the page looks balanced (See cover image rockstars:  With Love, Design & Nakate). Just make sure that you use the cover image to it’s fullest potential and take advantage of the free branding space! The optimal size of your cover image should be 851x315. Make sure it doesn’t infringe on any of Facebook’s rules found  here, (Section III. B.). 

WANTable page


Everyone’s number one question is how they can get more likes. First of all, more likes doesn’t necessarily mean more clients, more blog readers, etc. I firmly believe it’s better to have 20 fans pulling for you than 200 fans who could care less. With that being said, everyone wants those 20 faithful fans to grow to 200 faithful fans! How do you get there? By following all the steps above PLUS being nice. Can it really be so simple? Yes, it can! People like pages that are positive, encouraging, and helpful. They like rooting for your company when they care about the people behind the company OR because the company is sharing something worth liking (and hopefully SHAREing).

Get this: the more people who LIKE content, comment on content, or share your content, the larger the reach of your page becomes. Because if you create content that people LIKE, that content shows up in their friend’s feeds. Then when their friend’s like that content, it shows up in THEIR friend’s feeds. See how that works? The more your current fans interact with your page, the more fans you can accrue! Some things we’ve found helpful for growing our fan base is by: giving free/helpful advice, sharing important articles/info that will help our fans, sharing visual encouragement (such as daily encouragement, quotes, etc), posting about OTHER people and our colleagues’ pages, writing on our fans’ Facebook pages, posting LOTS of visuals, and staying true to ourselves by writing things that are REAL and US. People come to our page to be encouraged, to be inspired, and to learn. As Mark Twain said, “The really great make you feel that you too, can become great.”

Let’s go out and make GREAT Facebook pages together, in hopes that we can inspire others to do the same!

For more questions you can find me around the web at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeySweetPea

Twitter: @EliseOstermann

Website: www.heysweetpea.com

For all those interested in further one-on-one coaching (I love skype coffee dates):

http://heysweetpea.com/#/coaching/

For all those interested in our online branding class & online DSLR filmmaking class (perfect for bloggers & creatives alike)!

http://heysweetpea.com/#/workshops/

And for all those worried about the new Facebook algorithms… here’s some helpful information from the awesome, Wonder Forest here and here!

Facebook Recap - June Brunch

We know you are all dying to read the Facebook recap from this weekend’s brunch! This month’s brunch was packed with so much juicy info. So many people had great ideas to share on how to maximize using Facebook for your blog. For those of you that missed all the great info this recap has all you need to know! Thank you to all who joined us for brunch!

Q1: Why is it important to have a Facebook page for your blog? What are the advantages? 

@floralandfrayed: Facebook can be a great way for people who don’t regularly follow blogs or non-bloggers to connect and view updates.

‪@HitchDesign: Facebook is great for creating a more personal social platform with your readers.

@ParkerEtc: Facebook will hit the 1 Billion-user mark soon. It’s an easy way to maximize brand visibility and reach new readers.

@katelynbrooke88: Most people are always on Facebook. It’s a great opportunity to get to know your audience and remind them about your blog.

@PassageHill: It’s a way to be sure fresh content is always in front of your fans.

@17thandIrving: The average user spends 405 minutes on Facebook per month - good visibility where people are spending their time.

@cubicle57blog: I found it was important for me to start using Facebook so I can interact with companies on Facebook as my blog and not personal.

@mspinkandblue: My friend says, “I always click on stuff in my news feed, that’s now I get my news/blog updates.”

@Sandrat212: You can get some discussion going at a faster pace than in your comments section.

@HitchDesign: There is a whole unique audience that connects through Facebook. Almost everyone is on it.

‪@Djubilation: Facebook allows you to reach people who don’t follow blogs, but would appreciate your blog’s niche through quick posts and images.

@ParkerEtc: Facebook has it’s own analytics page called ‘Insights’, this gives you yet another peek into the data of your blog.

@pinkletandc: I have been creating albums with portfolio images or photos of projects.

@poppylindsay: I always make sure to post something interactive. Polls, Questions, & Thoughts of the day.

@cubicle57blog: I try to share what’s beyond my blog posts. Like if I have a post with a few images I’ll post the “rest” that didn’t make the post on Facebook.

Q2: Should you use Facebook different than Twitter? If so, how and why?

@17thandIrving: If you post the same thing in both places, people lose incentive to follow both.

@ParkerEtc: YES. They are different outlets with different reaches. Treat them that way. 140 characters is heard differently than a status update.

‪@sister_mag: Yes, we use it differently. Twitter is more for reaching out to new people, Facebook is more content-rich.

‪@Sandrat212: Twitter is fast banter - Facebook you can go back to it later and engage further. Once a tweet is out there, it’s gone.

@erinecurcio: They are both for getting the word out, but maybe twitter is the enticer and Facebook delivers the real “juice.”

@imbreannarose: You have the opportunity to be MORE visual with Facebook - take advantage of that.

‪@HitchDesign: Use twitter for little snippets and Facebook for a more in-depth part of your biz or blog.

@Sandrat212: Twitter is the cocktail party while Facebook is the dinner party.

@ParkerEtc: Be mindful of linking tweets to Facebook. Without proper planning, @mentions and URLs can feel spammy and overkill.

‪@sister_mag: Twitter is also great for reconnecting with people you met at conferences etc. - you don’t want to befriend everyone on Facebook!

‪@mspinkandblue: Yes, offer new content and phrase things different – offer a more in-depth look at your content, repetitive is uninteresting.

‪@ParkerEtc: As always, curation is KEY. Be cognizant of not overdoing it with cross platform integration, but see what works best where.

@HitchDesign: Put effort into your social media because what you put in you will get out!

@lalalovelythngs: Facebook is a great place to share more detail & share more of your personal voice.

Q3: Are there any effective ways to grow your following on Facebook?

MsPinkandBlue: Advertising and giveaways is MAJOR. With ads you can narrow down demographics; age, and interests.

Clothandkind: I have done ad campaigns on Facebook with great success. Specific targeting availability, I like to reach friends of current followers.

ParkerETC: A page with clearly defined, eye-catching custom tabs and interface has edge over those that don’t.

HitchDesign: You want to make sure it grows naturally or else all those followers will not be loyal or engaged.

PoppyLindsay: Making sure that you interact with your followers is a great way to grow. More interactions mean people are paying attention.

JessicaJPackard: Also, creating an “event” and inviting friends to the launch of your blog/business page was helpful for @WithLove_Design.

Djubilation: Use Facebook insights to see what your audience likes, what posts got the most shares, and what’s generating interest organically.

Thebootblog: The pages I’ve noticed that have high number of likes do a lot of mentioning and shout outing to other pages! Exponential exposure.

CaseeMarie: I also think Facebookers are using the share button more often, too. Catering content to that may help grow your audience.

ParkerEtc: It’s the same as your blog. Be consistent, curate your content, engage with readers & comments and keep it updated.

Erinecurcio: Sometimes it can be as simple as asking readers what they want to see more of. Your dedication in finding that = their loyalty.

ParkerEtc: It’s a social network! Remember engaging via comments & likes will have the same community building effect it does on blogs.

UrdirtyLaundry: I let people follow my Facebook page naturally. ½ of them are family, friends & co-workers anyway.

EliseOstermann: Create an engaged environment with creative content people will want to like/comment on.

ParkerEtc: Just like in the real world, building relationships with people on Facebook takes time and requires a long-term investment.

Q4: How do you creatively use Facebook to interact with readers?

ChevronSarah: Though I just started my page I plan to use it for both posts and unique content NOT featured on the blog.

MsPinkandBlue: Offer “extra” stuff not necessarily that you want to write a huge post about, but things you want to share or find interesting.

Orangenmond: I like asking my Facebook followers questions like “What should I bake this weekend?” (I write a food blog).

ParkerEtc: Link @Instagram to your Facebook. Strong visuals always get prompt interactions & comments & give definition to your brand.

ChristyHomeMom: My fans know I’m a giveaway junkie; I share tons of giveaways on twitter and a few on Facebook.

Erinecurico: Take advantage of any events that could bring you together.

Urdirtylaundry: I try to respond back to every comment or like it on my Facebook page. Seems like I “know” my regular readers. 

CieraHolzenthal: Posting images instead of just links to blog posts. Also some everyday photos that are just for fun!

EliseOstermann: We use it to ask our fans about themselves! We also use it to promote fans/colleagues to create a community.

Q5: Who do you follow that uses their Facebook well? What are they doing right?

@17thandIrving: I like @lorenhope ’s Facebook page. She posts sneak peeks of things she’s working on, engages with fans. 

@chevronsarah: @designsponge does a great job of provide unique but relevant content and articles on their Facebook page. 

@HitchDesign: @sycamorestreet does a good job giving a connection to her shop and utilizing the platform.

@katelynbrooke88: Essie does a great job generating discussion about nail polish, of all things. https://t.co/k3LbH4Lv

@floralandfrayed@FreePeople is awesome!

@JessicaJPackard@TheEverygirl_ is another page I really think uses their Facebook page well!

@JulieLeah: @MatchbookMag and @katespadeny both have great FB pgs. They update often and keep followers engaged.

@HitchDesign: @BeautifulHello @amandagenther great place for biz advice and design inspiration always good stuff!

@boutique1524@inhonorofdesign adds a genuine, friendly and personal touch to Facebook posts, which is the proper tone for the platform.

@JessicaJPackard: @eliseostermann is absolutely wonderful at engaging and providing unique information to post on her #heysweetpea Facebook page!

@HitchDesign@amandagenther is one of the best users as a blogger I have seen!

‪@mspinkandblue@designlovefest @hitchdesign @birchbox @refinery29@scoutiegirl all have rockin’ Facebook pages!

@ParkerEtc: The @Refinery29 girls kill it, along with @_IFB who have great relevant content and articles, also @chevronseclairs!