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Diary of a Maui Web Designer

Get Social – Sharing Your Blog Post With The World

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Sharing your blog on social media avenues

Now that you’ve created an amazing blog posting that you want to spread across cyberspace, social media avenues are an effective way to bring in new readers to your website and to get a conversation started about your company. The hope is to have others see your posting and then share that post with their own followers, who in turn will then share it some more. To make this happen, you first have to make sure your content is sharable and, of course, worth sharing. Let’s take a look at how to get your content out to these avenues and how to best encourage sharing and conversation.

How To Get The Social Media Ball Rolling

Assuming your company has several different social media accounts, such as a Twitter handle, a Facebook page, Instagram account, etc., the first thing you need to do after publishing your new blog post is to push it out to these different channels. Although it is very tempting to just set up an automated system that blasts out the post to all of your channels in one swoop, because really… what a time-saver, but — and this is a big BUT, this is not an effective strategy.

Twitter, Facebook and other social media avenues each have their own different ways and so you need to be sure to customize your message for each of these channels. Making it custom for each will make a huge difference in how people interact with it.

Twitter – Concise and Alluring

Take Twitter, for example… you have 140 characters (and your URL will take up a portion of that) to say something that will catch people’s attention and encourage them to share or retweet your message. With Twitter, it’s important to be concise, descriptive and alluring. How do you do that? You can turn your post title into a conversational statement or question. Post it with the focus of having others interact with it. While something like, “Did you know whales vacation in Maui, too?” is a bit hokey, it is a lot more effective then simply saying, “All You Want To Know About Whales – Read: LINK”.

Don’t Give It All Away

With Facebook, Google+ and Instagram, you have a chance to be a little bit more conversational by adding extra information or perspective to a brief summary of the post. You don’t want to give it all away, though. Give just enough juice to get them interested in click on your link to view more, or to share it with their friends or followers.

What’s interesting with Facebook is oftentimes many people don’t actually read the articles they like or share. They just quickly read the description and say, “Hey… this is cool!” So, even if the first person doesn’t bother to click through to your website, chances are some of their friends will actually do so. Images are a great way to bolster attention. A great photo with a cool description requires some time on your part to execute well, but it’s a good strategy to entice people on social media to interact with your content with likes and shares and clicking through to your website. Sometimes it’s the photo itself that is so appealing that people can’t help but click on it.

Best Strategies

Although images are great enticers, as well as video, it’s good to mix up your posts with just regular link posts and image link posts in equal measure. For Twitter, go ahead and share your new blog article several times throughout the week to reach more people. For Facebook and others, post your blog article again every so often, but change it up with new text and images. Some destination, just new clothing. And lastly… once the post is shared it’s very important to listen and interact with anyone commenting or sharing your post to strengthen the conversation.

Fake News – The Muddy Pond of Social Media

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fake news in social media

Fake News has been around for a while, but with the 2016 Presidential Election and Donald Trump tooting his Fake News horn, it’s been in the social spotlight. So, let’s take a look at it… shine even more light on it and try to understand a little bit better what Fake News is and why it exists on the internet, especially on social media channels, in the first place.

‘Fake News’ – What Is It?

Fake News – stories put out on websites that are false and created solely to either push a certain ideology/agenda, or… to create content that will go viral. A lot of this content is then pushed onto several websites, sometimes hundreds of websites owned by the same entity. It’s like seeding a field of weeds.

Agenda Pushers

In the case of pushing a certain ideology/agenda (aka. Astro-Turfing), by creating a multitude of websites to push a certain policy or product, the public is misled to believe that a certain opinion is strong and popular, when actually it is not. When it becomes really misleading is when people (such as students) go on the internet to do research on a topic. They find these multiple (seemingly different) sources stating the same facts, and then it is assumed that those facts are true. It’s tough these days to sort fact from fiction, but the good news is that schools are beginning to educate students to be on the look-out for fake news and astro-turfing.

Let’s Go Viral

Then there’s Fake News that is created in the hopes of having it go viral. The creators of this type of content really don’t care about pushing a certain product or agenda. Their main thrust is to create a story that people will share on Facebook. It’s content that is geared to stir up emotion… it’s content that is glittering and enticing… hoping for people to click on the link to get them to their website, or at least ‘like’ it or comment on it, or even share it.

So, why would anyone want to waste their time creating fake news? Why muddy up the pond? The answer is simple…. money. Fake news sprouts from websites created solely to profit from people that click on their links that take them to their website. Through the use of Google AdSense, an ad program, these people have found they can make money as people visit their sites. By creating eye-popping, shocking, or content that is in line with a certain groups belief system, they then use Facebook and other social media channels as the driving force to reach the audience that will see the content, click on it and share it.

At the time of the 2016 Presidential election, there was a huge spike in Fake News. The election was the trending topic across America and the World, a fertile topic for generating fake news. Along with hundreds of websites, fake news people also have hundreds of Facebook accounts that they use to push their links. The fake news posts on Facebook are created to incite and provoke, or to share the views that the audience likes. When a Facebook user “likes” a story because it strikes a harmonious chord and is in line with their own views or opinions, then Facebook sees that “like” and then serves up more of the same to that user. That’s how fake news ends up being at the top of the pile instead of buried under other news stories.

Prevention Measures

People share stories on social media without first checking to see if the story is based on truth or if it’s really a lie. With the spotlight shining so strongly on Fake News stories these days, perhaps people will think twice before sharing these types of posts. It is sometimes difficult to ascertain between truth and fiction. NPR has come out with some wonderful tips on how to sniff out if a news story is real or not: Fact Or Fiction Tips.

Facebook recently has announced it will proactively try to stop the spread of Fake News. It will allow users to report a post as a fake news story. Once a post has been flagged, it goes to Facebook’s third-party fact checkers who then check on the credibility of the story, If bogus, the link to that story will be flagged so that if a user tries to share it, they will receive a pop-up notice that informs them that the story may be fake. If the user decides to share it anyways, the post will end up in the lower depths of the News Feed so that nearly no one will see it. Facebook will also not offer advertising opportunities for posts that have been flagged as fake. So, that’s a step in the right direction.

Final Note

We have to admit, we live in some very interesting times…. really extreme times. It’s as if we’ve entered a hall of mirrors where it’s extremely confusing to figure out what is up or down, what is truth or fiction. It’s important to be aware and tread fearlessly, yet cautiously.

Dark Chocolate Decadence: The Best Chocolate Cupcake Recipe On The Planet

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chocolate cupcake recipe

DOUBLE-CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH BITTERSWEET FUDGE FROSTING

FROSTING:
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut up
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

CUPCAKES:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate (99% cacao), coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut up
1/2 cup boiling water
2 Tbsp. safflower oil
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 oz. bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao) or semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

DIRECTIONS:
1. Place 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate and 3 tablespoons butter in medium bowl. Bring cream, sugar and 1/8 teaspoon salt to a simmer in medium saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour over chocolate mixture; whisk just until chocolate mixture is melted, smooth and glossy.
2. Cool at room temperature, without stirring, 2 or 3 hours or until spreadable. (Or refrigerate frosting about 45 minutes, without stirring, making sure it doesn’t harden. Let stand at room temperature until of spreadable consistency.)
3. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk flour and baking soda in small bowl.
4. Place unsweetened chocolate and 3 tablespoons butter in small bowl. Add boiling water, stir until chocolate mixture is melted. Stir in oil.
5. Beat brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl at high speed 3 to 4 minutes or until light and thick. At low speed, gradually beat in melted chocolate mixture. Add flour mixture in two parts, beating just until blended. Stir in 1 oz. bittersweet chocolate. Spoon into muffin cups.
6. Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely. Spread frosting over cupcakes.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Watch this video of the whole process:

Concentration Gained Through Focus At Will

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Focus At WillWhen I work on intricate code I always have Deuter (German New Age instrumentalist) playing in the background, or I listen to Pandora… usually something soothing, like Classical music. Seems like when there are vocals or a busy beat it ruins my concentration. And without concentration it’s hard to work through coding up websites, which needs a lot of focus… believe me.

Ben has been working on new horses lately which involves a lot of banging and pounding coming from his end of the studio. He’s just finished a new large horse which is really incredible and will be heading off to Texas soon. While he works there is sawing, grinding, pounding, tapping, scraping and on top of it all, he likes to listen to his music really loud which helps him with his creative flow.

Thank goodness for Focus @ Will. It’s a new website I’ve just discovered that is perfect for me in this situation. It reminds me of Pandora because it is a music site, but it’s a music site that is focused on playing music that allows you to work and concentrate at a very high level. In fact, they claim to increase your attention span by 400%. Sounds amazing, yes? Well, the music is really quite perfect so far and my productivity has increased. We’ll see how I do as the weeks progress, but I really am enjoying it so far. There are different genres you can choose from. There’s even a special genre for people with ADD. They use clever phase sequencing music technology to help keep you focused and reduce distractions while you’re working, writing, reading, or even studying. Great background music to keep you going and flowing.

The gang behind Focus @ Will are scientists, music composers and tech inventors. Together they have really created something specially formatted to increase your brain’s ability to focus… which is so important for me when I need to power through website coding and problem-solving. Ben can now be the artistic creative (and loud) genius without having to worry about bothering me!

The Nuts And Bolts Of Google Hangout

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Google Hangouts is a video conferencing system that let’s you and up to nine other people have a video meeting. This is great for people who work remotely. It’s easy to do. No need to mess around with firewall or VPS settings. Most likely, you already have everything you need to get started. You need a browser (Chrome, Firefox, etc.), an internet connection, and a web cam and microphone (some computers come with it built-in), and a google account. That’s it. Nothing more. Headphones could be a nice addition, but not really necessary.

google hangouts

Video conferencing is super for remote workers since you have the chance to get some face-time with your fellow co-workers and employees. We think it’s better than the old-fashioned conference call, where the sound can be extremely muffled and you’re never sure of who said what. With Google Hangouts, the person talking takes center stage. That way you can know who is talking and what they’re saying.

So, let’s get started. Simply, log into Google. Click the Plus sign next to your name which will take you to Google+. Then, click on Start A Hangout on the right hand side. This will then open up a Google Hangout screen.

The first thing we recommend doing is checking your microphone and camera to make sure everything is working well. At the top right, click on Settings. This will open up a screen where you can do a test. You’ll know if your microphone is working if you see green bars going up when you talk. And the last thing to do is to play the test sound. If you hear it, all is well. This means you’ll be able to hear everyone talking in the Hangout. Click Save Settings and you’re done.

settings for google hangout

Now it’s time to invite people into your Hangout. Back at the Start A Hangout screen, you can choose who you’d like to invite. Then be sure to name your Hangout. Then when you’re ready click Hang Out.

Now all you need to do is what for your people to accept the invitation. Once they do, they will appear live on your screen.

During the Google Hangout there are some special things you can do:

  • Mute the microphone. You can mute your microphone by clicking the icon at the top right. Once you do that, no one will be able to hear what you say. This comes in handy. What some people do, if they are in a noisy room, is keep their microphone muted until they have something to say.
  • Turn off your camera. This will bring up your Google+ icon. This is useful for when you want to minimize the browser and do something else like bring up a file, or check your email, or do something that you don’t want anyone else see you do.
  • Invite more people. You can always invite more people to the Google Hangout, at any time. Simply click Invite People over in the left hand column.
  • Chat. You can also chat with any of the members during the hangout. Click chat and then type in your message on the right hand column. Sometimes it’s useful to just type out a message to someone rather than talking.
  • Screenshare. You can share what is on your screen while the video camera is running. Excellent option to have when you want to show a design or Word document, etc. which allows you to work collaboratively while you’re having your meeting. Simply check screenshare and choose the document or file you would like to show. When done, simply close the window and uncheck screenshare in the left column.
  • Google Effects. Not so useful for a meeting and really meant to add some fun. You can add sounds, goofy headwear, eyewear, etc. Click on it again and it’ll go away.
  • Hangout Toolbox. Very useful for embedding videos right into your hangout, muting the entire meeting, adding goofy icons like with Google Effects, and a ton of other useful things. You’ll need to explore.
  • Add Apps. You can also click on View More Apps and browse through the featured and recent library of apps that you may find useful for your meeting. If you find one, simply click Add To This Hangout. Then, you’re all set.

When you’re all done with your meeting, have said everything that you wanted to say and want to exit, just click on the telephone icon at the top right. This will exit you from the hangout. It will take you back to your Google+ site.

So, that’s it in a nutshell. Google Hangouts is a great way for your business to have a meeting and/or work collaboratively on a project while getting some good face-time if you’re working remotely, which is a nice thing.