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31.5.12

Coworking Spaces or Coffee Shops

I've been working online in all four corners of my room since 2008 and for the past weeks, I’ve been having this weird feeling of wanting to break free.  I couldn’t stand staying long in front of my CRT monitor (as a matter of fact, I’m now writing this article on my notebook in another room without a computer) and find myself wishing I had a laptop so I could move around the house and bring my work with me.  Could it be that isolation is becoming an issue to me?  Lately, I’ve been imagining myself working in a coffee shop.  So I decided I need to have a laptop and go out.  I feel I will be more productive if I follow my heart’s desire.

I’m planning to have a laptop soon so I’m researching on where to go and do my work.  I have two options: a coffee shop or a coworking space.

Coffee Shops with wifi:

Advantages:
1.       The coffee will keep you awake and active.
2.       Your tendency to focus on work and finish quickly because you know your time at the coffee shop is limited.  You still have to go home.  (if you work at home, you have the tendency to dilly-dally)
3.       Though meeting people is not your main purpose, the chance of meeting new acquaintances increases.  This solves the isolation issue.

Disadvantages:
1.       Just like when you were still an office employee, you’ll need to spend time on travel and money on transportation/food.
2.       The stability of wifi connection is not assured.
3.       There is no assurance that you’ll always get your favorite spot at the shop or worse, there is no assurance that there’ll be a vacant table when you arrive.

Coworking Spaces:

Advantages:
1.       A space is reserved for you.
2.       There will be facilities available to you.
3.       You can build your network:
a.       You get to meet fellow solo professionals and maybe get referrals or collaborate on projects
b.      You get to meet prospective clients.  Coworking spaces are also used by start-up business owners and they are more likely to need freelancers like you to work for them.
c.       Meet new friends.

Disadvantages:
1.       Just like when you were working in an office set-up, you need to spend time on travel, money on food and transportation PLUS you need to pay a fee which you can pay on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Both coworking spaces and coffee shops have their own advantages and disadvantages but their common denominator is spending time and money.  You spend much more money on coworking spaces though.

Over all, the biggest advantage on both options is personality development.  People get to see you so you tend to fix yourself before going out.  I must admit that I often forget to do that when working at home since nobody sees me.  At first, I take pride in being able to work in my pajamas.  Working in pajamas is not bad; I guess I just need variety.  I will probably go back to working at home after experiencing working at coffee shops and coworking spaces.

It all boils down to one thing; the best thing about working online is you have your options.  You get to choose what suits you best.  When you hear the term “work-at-home”, it does not necessarily mean you have to confine yourself inside your home and work.  Because if it does, then there’s no freedom; which work-at-home people take pride of.  You can choose your workplace, you can choose which client to work with, you can choose which project to accept, and you can choose what time to do your work as long as you reach the deadline.  Though along with this freedom come discipline and responsibility.  Otherwise, you might not be able to finish a task.

21.5.12

Run a Facebook Promotion/Contest the Legal Way

As the forerunner in the Social Media Marketing, Facebook has become a popular medium for companies/organizations/personalities to get in touch with the masses or their target market.  But creating a page is not enough if it has few followers.  One way of making a buzz and gain more followers is running a contest on your Facebook page.  This is why you see a lot of contests left and right showing up in your newsfeeds.  But are these contests done in a legal way?  Click this link to check out Facebook’s Promotional Guidelines.
Here is a list of the most common violations:
1.      Not using a third-party application
It is clearly stated in FB’s guideline that “promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or a Page App.”  A third-party app must be used to run or host a contest.  Such app must be used on a separate canvas page or a tab on Facebook.  Wildfireand and Offerpop are two of the apps you may use.
 2.      No clear statement that Facebook has NO involvement at all with the promotion
Facebook doesn’t want to have anything to do with your promotions and contest so make an appropriate disclosure that facebook is in no way involved with the contest that you host.
3.      Using Facebook’s features or functionalities in conducting your promotion
This violation is rampant.  A lot of pages would use the Like and Tag functions in determining the contest winners.  Facebook doesn’t like this that’s why you must go through a third-party app.
4.      Notifying winners through Facebook
Trivial as it may seem but notifying winners through Facebook wall, private messages or chat is also not allowed.  Again, you need to use a third-party app to be able to do this task.
Once caught, Facebook reserves the right to reject or remove your Page.  The terms are also subject to change at anytime, so make sure you refer to their guidelines before creating activities in your Page.  You don’t want to lose your fan base and that Page you’ve worked on, yes? Yes.

17.5.12

Online Forums as a Social Media Platform

I’m currently setting up a forum for a client’s website and a thought came to mind so I decided to take a break and write this peace.
Notice how the good ol’ forums have taken the backseat as new media platforms emerge one after the other.  Apart from doing the link building task where people do forum commenting to get back links, I rarely see setting up forums as a part of the social media strategies.
on forums
Blogs and micro-blogging sites such as Facebook and Twitter play a big role as to why forum posting is on a decline, if not dying.  Though these platforms are more popular these days than forums, we can’t deny the fact forums still have features that are uniquely its own.
Things you’ll appreciate in forums
1.  Forums are client-driven
While blogs and other micro blogging platforms are great ways to interact with your clients and customers, these platforms still require that conversations be initiated by the owner.  Forums, with proper moderation, have a more hands-off approach and can let the users mingle with one another.
2.  Categories and topics are neatly organized 
In forums, there is no sweat in trying to find a specific topic.  Though there is a search box on Facebook pages and groups, I still find myself struggling in finding a specific topic that has been buried over time in the page or group’s timeline.  Same goes with other social sites.
3.  Users can start their own topic or threadforum photo
Starting a topic or thread is one of the main features of a forum.  Though depending on the user’s access level, a posted message might need an approval from a forum moderator before it becomes visible.  This kind of moderation is very rarely used though.  Most forums publish the post as soon as the user hits ‘send’.  This promotes spontaneity in the discussion which is very good.  Some posts get deleted if proved to be inappropriate by a moderator.
4.  Users and contributors get the feeling of belongingness
As a virtual community, forums give the users and contributors the feeling of belongingness and that they are a big part of the community.  This is manifested in numbers 1 and 3.  Forum members are more engaged when they participate in the online discussion.
5.  Owners can use the forum to get into their customers’ mind  
Bright ideas usually pop up during spontaneous conversations.  It’s when the users and contributors of your forums speak their mind that you get to know what they honestly think and feel about your products and services.  Their opinions, suggestions, criticisms, concerns and complains play a big role in improving your products and services.  You can get ideas and insights even when they are just having a free-flowing spontaneous chitchat with their fellow forum members.  Companies have no need to spend that much on market research if only they’d take time to see what their consumers are talking about in their forum.
Through the sharing features of blogs and other social sites, they are able to reach more people.  I’m glad forum posts can be shared now, too.  Forums are catching up after all.
All social media platforms have their own unique features to offer.  In the end, the internet marketer has to study and determine which platforms suit his business best and not just jump into the social media bandwagon.
Forums may be left behind by the social media forerunners but I believe it’s going to re-emerge as one of the powerful tools in social media marketing.
As for me, joining forums is fun and helpful as well.  It is usually in forums where I get to find the answers when I search for some information about a particular topic.  How about you?  Do you join forums?  Tell us about your experiences in joining forums.

8.5.12

Pin A Quote is Now Called Share As Image

This was what I saw when I checked the website earlier.  Pin A Quote is now called Share as Image.


I guess they have changed their name to be able to serve other platforms, have their own identity and not be just associated with Pinterest.  I say it’s a good move.  So now you can share your text turned into images to Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.  Another thing that has changed is the price.  Share As Image PRO version now costs $2.99 – still affordable!  And those of you who have purchased Pin A Quote PRO for $1.99 can have the upgrade for free; so no worries.   


Share As Image still come in Free version.  Let’s see the difference between the Free version and the PRO version.

Free version

PRO version


With the Free version, you cannot do anything but to pin it as is - you can't edit at all and it only comes in grey.  With the PRO version, you can edit the font, the font size, the text color and the background color according to your preference.  Seeing the big difference between the two, I say the PRO version is worth the $2.99!

6.5.12

Get Pinspired by Pinerly and Pin-A-Quote on Pinterest

In just a short period of time, I got to sign up to four social media platforms that look the same – they all start with ‘Pin’ and they all come in red.  Well two of them are offshoots of the most popular one – Pinterest.
Pinterest must be a very effective platform in driving traffic to one’s website that some companies have followed suit.

Pinterest 


Pinterest came first.  Conceptualized in December 2009 and just after two years, it became one of the top 10 largest social network services in December 2011.  The following month, January 2012, the site had 11.7 million unique users.  By March 2012, it became the 3rd largest social network.  Beat that!

It is an online pinboard where you can organize and share online the things that you are fond of. It became very popular especially to women, considering that 97% of the network’s Facebook likes were made by women.  It was said that online magazines and retail stores benefited the most on this platform because only images are pinned here.  But what about those websites that are without images?  Worry not because after Pinterest comes Pin-A-Quote.


Pin-A-Quote 


Pin-A-Quote is the solution if you want to make use of the Pinterest platform but your website is mostly text and not much images.  It lets you turn some texts in your article into image quotes which you can pin on Pinterest.  The procedure is so simple.  Just like the other platforms, you need to have the Pin-A-Quote bookmarklet on your bookmark toolbar.  Highlight the text that you want to turn into image quote then click on the bookmarklet.  A box will then appear where you can edit the text you highlighted.  Then click Post to pin it on Pinterest.


Related Story: Pin A Quote is Now Called Share As Image


It comes in Standard version and Pro.  Standard version is free but you can’t do much with your image quote.  It’ll just come in plain grey and that’s it.  On the other hand, the Pro version let’s you edit and change the quote font, author font, quote color, author color and the background color.  It makes your image quote more attractive.  The Pro version is very affordable at $1.99.


After just a few days, I stumbled upon another social media platform that looked like a twin of Pinterest.  Unlike Pin-a-quote, this one has nothing to do with Pinterest and I bet they are rivals.  It’s Pinspire.


Pinspire 


Pinspire, like what most people say, is a copycat of Pinterest.   Take a look at their interface below.


Pinspire

Pinterest

Very much the same, eh?  It is common for businesses to copy one another.  Some would copy an idea and create a better version of it and introduce to the market.  But despite the copying, they still come up with a different design or approach so they can still have their own identity.  I am really at awe at how Pinspire had the guts to copy almost everything from Pinterest.  Though I’m sure there are slight differences between the two websites.  Let’s check what the differences are.


Pinspire lets you select a country, Pinterest doesn’t.  So you can narrow down your search for a particular country or you can just choose to see pins from your own country.  I’m just having a quick look at both websites.  If you find other differences, please tell us so by putting it on the comment box below.


Moving on, the last one is Pinerly.  This new platform is still not yet public and you will only get registered through an invite.


Pinerly 


Pinerly is your Pinterest dashboard. It's not public yet and people only get to register through invites.  They are taking it slow, click here to find out why.


To quote from Pinerly website:
What is Pinerly all about?
"Pinerly is a tool for Pinterest. We founded Pinerly to help fill the gaps we found when marketing ourselves on this terrific traffic driving platform.With Pinerly you are able to graphically measure real-time click throughs, likes and re-pins for "campaigns" created through Pinerly. These valuable metrics help you understand what works and doesn't and finally take control.With time, Pinerly will continue to improve the depth of its metrics and automation tools. Our goal is to provide the most comprehensive analytics dashboard available on the web."
It was created to serve as your analytics for your Pinterest account to see how effective your campaigns are.


I think all them four are good and we can use all of them to boost the popularity of our websites and businesses.  Why not get the best of all four worlds!



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