Summer is the best season to enjoy trends and tools that minimize our time on the computer rather than enhance it.
These three free tools take less than 15 minutes even for the tech-challenged and once set up require minimal ongoing attention.
Easiest way to automate Reputation Management Tracking
Google Alerts is a free tool that takes less than 5 minutes to set up at https://www.google.com/alerts.
For reputation management, set up one alert for your full name and one alert for your business name Remember to put both alert phrases in quotes so you only receive an alert for the phrase, not individual words.
Have another phrase you want to track when mentioned in the news or social media, create an alert. Remember quotes. If using a connecting variation like AND or OR, put it in all caps so the alert understands you are creating a distinction between two searches rather than send you results with the word “and” in it.
Now any time your name or business is mentioned online, you’ll receive an email notification and can respond. Alerts can also help detect plagiarism of your brand or tagline in which case you have the option to send a warning Cease and Desist letter.
Honorable Mention: Talkwalker is a little known free alert competitor that’s worth checking out if for some reason you noticed Google Alerts isn’t performing or just want to test which tool is more reliable (I use both). The alert button is a wee hard to find so I included a red box and red arrows in the graphic to accentuate it in the upper right corner.
Wouldn’t it be nice to appear in search results for opportunities you want rather than have to go seek them out? – Veronica Cannady
Position Your Social Media Activities to Receive Business Opportunities in only 15 min Per Week
While on the topic of tracking buzz, most of it occurs on social media. Facebook’s nebulous privacy settings may mean the content you don’t want to share gets seen while your company Page content does not – because FB endeavors to cater to personal (private) and professional (public) markets.
LinkedIn still dominates as the most powerful social media platform professionally. It’s so credible, that even google searches rank LinkedIn profiles.
So how does that help minimize your computer time this summer?
LinkedIn is the best tool for: providing a recommendation, publically complimenting someone for their written work or an achievement (because you can tag them), and just stay top of mind with your smiling mug displayed on every LI message exchange.
Writing quality content to complete and optimize your LinkedIn profile only needs to be done once a year (for questions on how to do this well check out my free LI online training videos with NO opt in) – maintaining it takes less than 15 minutes at least once per week.
Set a 15 minute timer and at least once per week:
- Write or request a recommendation (amazing way to nurture relationships that few bother to do anymore).
- Share an article a colleague wrote or comment. Doing so makes you memorable to them and supports your network. Just curating a link to a business publication that you didn’t even read is what everyone else does and just contributes to “noise.”
- Send an invitation to connect with someone you met at networking event on LinkedIn. A business card gets lost (if you even remember what they look like) however connecting on LI means you’ll see each other’s picture and posts which reinforces remembering their name next time you two meet. Lastly, don’t be shy to invite others to connect with you (just don’t assume you can add them to your mailing list). The more you use LinkedIn and connect with others, the more often LinkedIn features your profile in searches.
Unfortunately, many attendees in my LinkedIn training class wait until they’re a job seeker or wish they had nurtured a professional tribe before they needed one. Small actions over time accumulate influence and more importantly significance.
Fifteen minutes a week now positions you to be a source of opportunity rather than one who has to seek it out.
Caveat Emptor: Remember that any social media platform doesn’t replace a real conversation, whether over the phone, video chat, or in person. Leverage social media to augment relationships and create conversations, not replace with a one-sided sales pitch monologue.
Why iStockphoto is My Favorite Image, Video, and Graphics Source
Images are emotive and an imperative companion to written content on webpages and blogs. Images provide an added SEO bonus when including keywords in your “alt tag” to inform search engines what the image is of which helps page rank.
For quality permission-based graphics and photos, I recommend iStockphoto. Other sources are dominant for providing photo options, but didn’t offer the rich array of signature or original graphics, which means the graphic is only available through iStockphoto.
Free image sources offer very limited libraries of free images that visually oversaturate the Internet already. See that as a contributor resource rather than rely it solely for blog and website images to entice engagement, otherwise visitors’ eyes may glaze over at a redundant free image overused on social media or website memes. Images are powerful; blogs devoid of at least one visual don’t get clicked and read.1
iStockphoto was reasonably priced and easy to use, though what differentiated it was the array of quality options including signature graphics. Graphics are an increasingly popular option and often more relatable to a topic than a generic photo provides.
Lastly, proofread even your image content for errors. The following example came from another paid image provider I used to recommend until I noticed the quality was no longer competitive. Notice the banner read “Slocan” instead of “Slogan”? How frustrating to actually pay for an image only to realize later it wasn’t professionally completed – or worse, not notice it until it’s live on your website and someone does.
Creative types will love Canva – which is an outstanding free tool to create your own graphics with variations. However, it’s not a less-than-15-minute-process and I only advise it if playing with a new graphics tool sounds like a fun way to spend an hour to you.
It can be alluring to chase shiny new object syndrome and tools on the internet that we may not really have time for the tutorials.
In my case, I know how to use Canva and even teach it, but I would rather write copy, design websites, and teach Organic SEO so I tend to source my visuals from iStockphoto.
The importance of ownership or permission for images is only increasing as it gets easier to track pirated images. At the minimum, when using a free image cover your tushie by including the credit (and possibly score points by including a hyperlink back to the source).
Plagiarized content of any kind is only getting easier to track on the web and not worth the time suck (and possible embarrassment) of dealing with an angry – and potentially litigious – source who didn’t grant permission to their proprietary information.