Content Curation: Make It Work for You


One of the challenging things in maintaining a blog, distributing a newsletter, or even sending a “how are you doing?” email to a customer is figuring out what to write about. But surprise! You don’t have to create everything from scratch. Instead, rely on content curation. Have you heard the term?
Content curation is “the art of finding and repurposing the best and most relevant content on a specific issue to engage your audience,” according to Alan Rosenblatt, a partner with turner4D in Washington, DC, and expert content curator. He says curation makes sense to “feed the beast” that now includes social media, blogs, websites, email, and other channels. “These channels represent the primary way to interact with audiences,” he said, “and with some of them, you interact with far more people than through any other means.”
He suggests five mission-driven steps when you decide to curate content: Find, Frame, Share, Analyze, Get Results
  • Find an article, website, piece of data, quote, or whatever that would appeal to your target audience
  • Frame it, for example, by writing a little intro or explaining why you are sending the link
  • Share it (see below for some ideas)
  • Analyze by looking at your website traffic, foot traffic into your place of business, or other means
  • Get Results by figuring what worked, what didn’t, what you will do next time, etc.
What should we curate?
Look for content that:
  • Supports your mission
  • Comes from a credible source
  • Is well written, designed, or spoken (for test, graphics, and audio/visual)
  • Is information that your audiences might not otherwise come across.

Example: Your company makes gift baskets. You find an article about what celebrities give to each other over the holidays. Or you are an accountant. You find a nifty checklist with the top deductions tax-payers forget about.

REMINDER: You are curating, not confiscating or plagiarizing! Remember proper attributions!

How do we share it?
Ideally, you use the content in more than one of these channels, depending on your target audiences:
  • Blogs (your own, or as comments on others)
  • Social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
  • Youtube
  • Newsletters
  • Emails
  • Your website
  • Other places your target audiences go to for information.
What do we do with it?
Rosenblatt refers to the importance of the “framing message.” In other words, rather than just post a link, you might:
  • Write a headline and short introductory sentence so people know why you chose to share it
  • Extract the main points for a blog post or newsletter article
  • Compose a tweet, with a link to the article

Depending on the audience and channel, you might come up with a catchy or a more serious phrase. Also, consider a call to action, or what you want the audience to do as a result–share it further, give you a call, etc.

How do we sustain our curation strategy?
  • Set do-able goals. You can’t share everything, nor would your audience welcome it. Maybe 3 curated pieces per week as an initial goal? (or less or more, depending on what you can do on a sustainable basis).
  • Use technology for the tasks that can be automated, such as gathering external content from which to select, scheduling Tweets, and other aids.
If this hasn’t convinced you…

“Content curation is one of the most important strategic questions a campaign must deal with,” Rosenblatt told me. “If interaction is valuable to your organization, then it is your mission to make sure you are doing it well. Content curation is an essential part of that.”

What has worked for you–or not worked? Leave a comment, and let me know.


How Businesses are Using the Yo App

The Yo app was initially ridiculed by media as being the simplest and most pointless social app ever.

But Yo app inventor Or Abel is laughing all the way to bank, as businesses have found ways to use it effectively and investors have sent millions in funding.

The Yo app, when launched, did one thing: Sent the message “Yo” to a contact’s cell phone.

Really – that was it.

But even at that primitive stage, a handful of restaurants realized the Yo app could be a replacement for those large “puck” pagers used to tell people when their tables are ready. And, the Yo app’s open API meant developers could start playing with integrating Yo into other services, like Instagram, Forbes reported.

Even though the “hype” around the app has faded, the app is continuing to develop. Now, a business or an individual can send a Yo with a link or a hashtag. The Washington Post is using it to send out breaking news alerts to Yo users. And some businesses are reportedly sending Yos and links to customers with special, limited-time deals or offers.

In late September, a featured launched allowing users to Yo their location to other Yo users, Business Insider reported. With the location based featured enabled, “if a user Yos his or her location to a service, they’ll receive recommendations, weather updates, news or other offerings from the partnering recipient,” according to BI. It would be nice to be the restaurant that gets recommended based on a geo-targeted Yo, wouldn’t it?

Before you dismiss an app out of hand, think about any possible way a business could take advantage of it.

Future Watch: What is Ello?

Next up on the social media hype wagon – Ello.

The social network was still by-invite-only at the time of this writing, but it’s getting plenty of attention for the promise of having no ads and no data-mining. Like other social networks, users can add friends and post status updates and photos to the network. Unlike Facebook and some other social networks, is has very little in terms of privacy controls, and warns users that almost anything they put on the social network can be seen by others, including search engines.

It doesn’t look like there’s any reason a business couldn’t create an Ello account and start posting photos, sales and useful information for customers and potential customers – but we haven’t heard of any businesses jumping on just yet. Still, it may be a network to watch the remainder of this year.

Setting Up Your Business — Correctly — on Facebook

A few weeks ago I sat down with an Alexandria business owner to look at his business presence on Facebook.

“Hang on,” he said. “I need to log out from my personal account and log in with my business account.”

Does that sound like you?

A lot of business owners, concerned about personal privacy, create entirely separate logins for their business.

There’s good news: That’s not necessary!

Facebook allows business owners to set up business pages that are entirely separate from the business owners’ personal Facebook presence without having to create a new Facebook account. This set-up makes it quick and easy to switch between personal and professional Facebook identities and allows business owners to designate other page administrators and editors to help lighten the workload involved in social media marketing.

Unfortunately, this business owner’s son – in addition to the separate login issue – had set up the business as a person on Facebook, not as a proper business.

Combined, the drawbacks and consequences of these two errors are significant. In addition to violating Facebook’s terms of service and putting your businesses’ presence on Facebook at risk (yes, Facebook can and has deleted business profiles for being improperly set up), you may be losing out on a valuable suite of online services Facebook offers to businesses. These include Facebook Insights, Facebook ads, boosted posts, administrative ease and more.

Here are two ways to tell if your business is set up correctly on Facebook:

You should not have to log out and log in with a different account.

If you are logging out and logging in to control your business’ Facebook presence, you don’t have to do that anymore.

Facebook allows you to just log in with your personal Facebook account and be an administrator or an editor of any Facebook business page. One of the benefits is that this allows you to switch easily between your two identities (personal and business) without compromising your personal privacy – fans of your business page will not be able to see photos of your kids unless you allow them to do so.

Further, Facebook allows you to designate admins or editors for your Facebook page without having to share a username and password. That means if you’re too busy to post to your Facebook business page, someone else can help you out.

On a less happy note, if you have to fire or lay off an employee who had access to your Facebook business page, it’s very quick and easy to remove their access to that page without having to change and redistribute your Facebook business password like you would with a separate login.

Your business should not be masquerading as a “person” on Facebook.

What’s the difference? If a business is set up correctly as a business page and you have more than 30 fans, you’ll have access to Facebook Insights (in the upper left portion of your Facebook page), a valuable tool that can help you reach more of your businesses’ fans.

Also, a person can become “friends” with people on Facebook – a business should not be able to do that. (If you get a “friend” request from a business, it’s a telltale sign that the business is set up incorrectly.)

Fortunately, there is a quick and easy way to switch your business from being a “person” on Facebook to being an actual business. Facebook simply turns your businesses’ friends into fans – no questions asked. The conversion is free.

Need help getting your business set up properly on Facebook? Contact me at [email protected] and I’ll be happy to walk you through the process.

Beth Lawton is founder and CMO of Canoe Media Services, an Alexandria-based business that helps entrepreneurs and small businesses shine online with smart social media marketing, blog content and more. More information is available at

Making Sure Twitter Helps Your Business

Twitter has more than 271 million monthly active users, and 94 percent of users who follow businesses are on the lookout for discounts and special deals. Hashtags routinely appear on Super Bowl commercials.

But, it’s a medium that needs daily attention and quick responsiveness, particularly if your customers decide to use it as a customer service platform. (Twitter offers good tips and information at

But once your business is on Twitter, how do you know if your tweets are helping boost your business?

Making sure Twitter works for your business starts with your goals:

  • Do you want to be seen as an expert in your field? Drive sales? Push website traffic? Your goal will define what you post, and when you post it. After a few weeks of consistent tweeting (at least once a day – preferably more – every day), analyze your tweets against your initial goal.
  • Are you gaining followers, and are they the type of followers you want?  (Are they your local customers, or an international audience?)
  • Are your customers or other people retweeting you, or mentioning you in Tweets?

Check Out Your Data

Figuring out if Twitter is working for your business starts with looking at your data.

In July, Twitter released a new analytics service – a significant upgrade over what was previously available to Twitter users. The information is free for verified accounts (mostly celebrities and accounts with 100,000 followers or more), websites that have implemented Twitter cards (ask your web developer about enabling those) and/or those who have advertised with Twitter.

To see if you have access to the new data, sign into Twitter and go to

The data includes number of impressions your tweets have gotten (that’s the number of times people have seen your tweet), and the engagement rate of every tweet (that’s the number of times people have clicked somewhere on your tweet). You can also get data on your followers – where they live, their interests, and who else they follow, among other data.

If you do have Twitter cards enabled on your website, you can also track clicks to your website, and even add rich media (videos and more) to your tweets. Twitter cards can also make your retweets even more powerful. (Learn more about Twitter cards here.)

Don’t Have Analytics? Here are Your (Free) Options

If you don’t fall into the verified, carded or advertiser categories, you still have options if you want to go beyond manually counting your retweets and favorites.

If you schedule tweets through Hootsuite, that program comes with analytics built-in. Although the information isn’t as useful as Twitter’s own analytics (unless you pay for a report), you can still get good information on which tweets have been most interacted with, retweeted most and more.

You can also check out Twitonomy or Simply Measured, both of which offer free data on your own account – or your competitors’ accounts.  (See more free options in this blog post.)

For more tips on Twitter (plus Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, content marketing and more), follow @CanoeMedia on Twitter.

Beth Lawton is founder and CMO of Canoe Media Services, an Alexandria-based business that helps entrepreneurs and small businesses shine online with smart social media marketing, blog content and more. More information is available at

Is Instagram Right for My Business?

Instagram for Small BusinessWith more than 70 million users in the United States and a user base that skews young and affluent, many businesses are taking another look at Instagram.

Instagram is a mobile app-based photo sharing network, where an individual or business can post photos of events, items or anything else with captions and clickable, searchable hashtags. The platform also has tools built in so you can make your Instagram photos appear old, faded or artistic.

Overall, the social network does best for businesses that are visual in nature – retail, art, real estate, home improvement, jewelry, tourism and restaurants. It can also be useful for event-based businesses. There are always exceptions, but those in the finance and IT sectors be better served focusing on other social networks, such as LinkedIn.

In-the-Moment Marketing

Unlike most other social networks, Instagram is really capitalizes on in-the-moment photos of events in addition to products.

Since it’s mobile app-based, you can’t take an amazing photo with your $500 camera, Photoshop it and upload it to Instagram from your laptop. You’re stuck with your iPhone or Samsung or other web-enabled camera. That’s a mixed blessing. (Technically, there are ways around this, but it goes against the spirit of the platform.)

However, nice thing about Instagram is that it interfaces easily with Facebook and Twitter, so if you take a photo with your Instagram app and caption it, then share it on Facebook and Twitter instantly, which can gain your business more followers on all three networks.

Examples and Best Practices

It always helps to look at what other businesses are doing with a platform. Here are some examples of good, effective usage of Instagram:

In the tourism and publishing industry, Outdoor Life magazine has had success with Instagram contests. The magazine asked readers to take a photo with Instagram and upload it to the network with a specific hashtag and username mentioned. (Here’s a recent contest launch post from Outdoor Life for an example of how to set up an Instagram contest.)

To drive traffic back to the publication’s website, Outdoor Life’s website did a post embedding several Instagram photos from users.

You can also buy Instagram ads – Ben & Jerry’s ice cream had some success there – and there are ways through responding to user comments to encouraging and give guidance on purchasing, even though direct links to your website in photo captions won’t work. (A&E clothing is a master at encouraging people to go online to purchase items.)

Here in Alexandria, we love @VisitAlexVA on Instagram. What are your favorite local outlets on Instagram?

Beth Lawton is founder and CMO of Canoe Media Services, an Alexandria-based business that helps entrepreneurs and small businesses shine online with smart social media marketing, blog content and more. More information is available at

Which Social Network is Right for Your Business?

so-many-social-networks (Photo credit: socialmediahq)

Options abound when it comes to social media – there are dozens of “major” social networks (those with more than 500,000 active users) and new social platforms hit the market all the time.

With the optimism and energy behind starting your own business, many entrepreneurs create business profiles on several social networks, only to find they don’t have the time to manage all of them. A social profile that’s neglected can negatively affect how customers perceive your brand.

So how do you decide where to put your social media marketing energy? First, think about why people visit different social networks.

A recent study by IPG Media and 140Proof showed more than 107 million U.S. adults belong to more than one social network. Of those, more than 78 million belong to three social networks and almost 60 million belong to four or more.

The reason, users say, is because different platforms are better suited to different interests. (In other words, your customers probably are not going to the business-oriented professional network LinkedIn to find the latest viral cat video.)

Here are a few questions to consider when choosing your social presence:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • Is your business inherently visual in nature (like fashion or real estate) or is your business based more on information?
  • How much time can you dedicate to maintaining your social presence? Some networks require more work than others.
  • What’s your goal for your social media marketing efforts? Do you want to be thought of as an expert among other industry leaders, or do you want to increase the number of people buying a product from you?
  • What’s your brand’s personality?

IPG also has a great chart showing topic areas and what performs best on which social network – you can see the chart here.

The best advice for businesses on social media, no matter the platform: Be yourself, engage with your customers and clients (respond to their inquiries quickly and thank them for their contributions) and keep your social media presence fresh and updated.

Beth Lawton is founder and CMO of Canoe Media Services, an Alexandria-based business that helps entrepreneurs and small businesses shine online with smart social media marketing, blog content and more. More information is available at

To Do More Business Online, Be a Little Less ‘Businesslike’

It’s nearly 2014, and you know your business has to be on the internet.

But once you’re online, just how businesslike do you need to be?

Obviously, your company’s online presence has to meet some basic standards of professionalism — make sure all the text on your website has been spell-checked and, if you use social media, avoid embarrassing meltdowns, for starters.

But succeeding on the web requires a business to discard some traditional practices and attitudes from the offline world. Here are a few ways you should alter your approach online to connect more easily with potential clients and customers:

Don’t overdo formal language.

You need a consistent voice for your web presence, determined in large part by the market you serve. But even if you are shooting for a relatively high-end market, don’t be afraid to loosen up occasionally online — especially when using social media.

With apologies to Spinal Tap, it’s sort of like a volume knob. If your overall goal is an “8” in serious, it’s okay to dial down to 6 or 7 at times. Users implicitly understand that the web is a little less formal, and using a contraction or addressing users more directly won’t turn them off.

Don’t be a broadcaster.

Old media was a one-way transaction — businesses used media to send a message to people. The people had no effective way to talk back.

The internet has made just about every new form of communication two-way. Now, with features such as social media, comment threads on articles and live video chats, the web has made it easy for any two parties to have a conversation.

Customers know and expect this. Businesses ignore it at their own peril. It may feel more “businesslike” to send out your message and wait for the customers to start rolling in, but that’s not how things work online. You need to post your content, see how people respond, and respond to their responses.

Be transparent.

Many businesses are afraid to post their prices online — “It might scare customers away,” they say.

Business blogging expert Marcus Sheridan refutes that line of thinking with five convincing points. Perhaps the most persuasive is this: You shouldn’t waste time trying to sell a product to
someone who can’t even afford to buy the product.

Talking about price isn’t the only way transparency can help a business online. If you use your website to tell customers a little more about how your business works, what the people who work there are like, and even what you think of the state of your industry, they will identify with you and even trust you a little more. And that should lead to good results.

Be human.

In a way, this sums up all of the points made above. Technology often seems to be anything but personal. But with the widespread adoption of the internet, technology has had an opposite effect on business. It’s much more personal.

Understanding and adapting to that fact is just good business.

Jon DeNunzio runs Squarely Digital, a digital consulting firm that aims to make the internet a little bit easier and a lot more profitable for your company. Contact him at [email protected].

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Follow the Trend – Increase Your Audience Using Social Media

20-social-media-iconsToday, staying connected to the latest social media outlets is almost the equivalent of staying in touch with the world; especially when it comes to business. Each day, as a business owner, you ask the question, “How do I expand my audience or clientele?” In order to generate revenue it is important to stay relevant. In order to stay relevant, you have to communicate to your audience by means of significant resources.  Some of the most relevant ways to stay connected to your audience include: Newsletters, Blogs, Mobile Applications, Media Blasts and Text Alerts. For all of the mentioned, there are many resources out there that will provide time efficient ways for you to stay connected to your audience using very few clicks and very little time and effort.

Speaking of time, you might argue that you do not have time to keep up with all of the various forms of social media and perhaps even figure out which ones work best for your business agenda. The purpose of new innovative social media resources is to help make things easier for end users (consumers or businesses). If you choose to go at this alone, there are many resources out there that will allow you to stay in the loop and make it easy for you to post items to more than one social media outlet by logging into one or few resources.

To stay in the loop, use RSS Feed Readers. If you need to know what to write about and where to post it, this resource will allow you to stay on top of updates made on various sites including but not limited to social media helping you stay relevant to your audience. RSS Owl is one of the best because it covers a long list of platforms; however, there are many others out there. RSS Feed Readers will at least give you solid clues on where to post content and what topics to include in your newsletters, blog posts and media blasts.

Now that you know where to go to keep up with what’s trending, you want to figure out a way to post your content on more than one social media platform at a time. I think most of us have heard about Hootsuite by now, but if you have not, this is a great tool that integrates the most relevant social media used by businesses today. If you can at least post to a handful of your social media platforms at once, having to log into one or two others is not bad. It is better than having to log into 5 or more individually.

At this point you might be saying, “what if I don’t want to manage my own social media at all?” Well, you are in luck because there are many businesses out there just like KQ Associates that are here to assist you. We understand that managing your social media can be a real chore.  However, we enjoy it! Managing social media and using it to grow your client base is like a game and although it can be challenging at times, it is fun for us! We all know when work is fun we can accomplish more. So, do some research and hire a company that will take this responsibility off of you at a rate you can afford so that you can focus on the things you do best regarding your business.

Lydia D. Washington, CEO

KQ Associates  – Your professional source for trusted administrative support that keeps you safe and moving forward.