Facebook News Feed Updates

Facebook recently launched Facebook Journalism to collaborate with the news industry. They also released News Feed Publisher Guidelines…

The News Feed Publisher Guidelines are designed to provide an overview of News Feed: how it works, the values it operates by, the policies Facebook enforces, the signals we look for when ranking stories, and the storytelling tools Facebook offers to help your content reach the right audience.

They have created a set of News Feed Publisher Principles — three basic, high-level guideposts to keep in mind when sharing content to News Feed. These principles are:

  1. People on Facebook value meaningful, informative stories = Publishers should ideally focus on what they do best; making the important and meaningful stories interesting to their audience.
  2. People on Facebook value accurate, authentic content- Publishers should focus on posting accurate, authentic content.
  3. People on Facebook value standards for safe, respectful behavior- Publishers should follow the Community Standards. Check the page for the latest updates and additions.

Every time you open Facebook, News Feed goes through a set of four steps to answer the question: Which stories are likely to matter most to your readers?

News Feed is an algorithm — meaning, it’s a formula or set of steps for solving a problem. These are the four essential steps of the News Feed algorithm:

  1. Inventory- What stories have been posted by friends and publishers?
  2. Signals – Who posted this story?
  3. Predictions- How likely are you to comment on this story?
  4. Score- Relevancy Score- We use all of the consolidated signals to develop a relevancy score — a number that represents how interested we think users will be in that story.

This new initiative enables the publishing professional to better target likely readers for engagement with you.

Need help with your social media marketing? Contact me at chris@serenityva.com for a free consultation.

Hootsuite or Sprout Social? What is the Solution?

Whether you are an established business or just starting, it is imperative that in your business plan a section on Social Media Marketing is included. 

From a design perspective, Sprout Social is much easier to look at and use. Hootsuite favors function over form. Hootsuite has the edge in reporting, though Sprout Social offers more extras, like social CRM and audience discovery.

In the end, it depends what you’re looking for. Both solutions are excellent tools for managing your social media, but the difference lies in which capabilities are most important to your organization.

Hootsuite lets users build adjacent feeds across a single dashboard and customize the type of information that each feed displays. That means you can set up a feed for each of your social accounts and create more specific filters on each of those accounts — e.g. posts from Facebook or incoming tweets.

Sprout Social instead aggregates posts into a single feed. You can customize the information in the feed by checking and unchecking filters, and you can also move to a network-specific view (for example, everything from LinkedIn) with one click.

Social media management tools are your best friends when it comes to integrating social media into your marketing strategy.

They can help you manage multiple profiles, track specific keywords, as well as allow you to schedule your posts in advance so you don’t have to spend hours every day coming up with content and logging into various accounts just to post updates.

The following table is taken from a recent post.



Sprout Social

Free Plan


No, but offers 30-day free trial


From $8.99/month billed annually

From $59/user/month

Social Media Platforms

Facebook (profile, page, group), Twitter, LinkedIn (profile, group, company), Google+ (pages only), extra profiles via third-party apps

Facebook (pages), Twitter, LinkedIn (profile, company), Google+ (pages only), Instagram


Posts, follower’s growth, engagement, and traffic; basic analytics are free, advanced analytics are a paid feature

Audience growth and analysis, post engagements, trends, social media listening


Yes on paid plans



Yes and you can add an RSS feed even on the free plan



Yes, unlimited

Yes, unlimited

Extra Features

Very customizable dashboard, bulk upload of messages on paid plans, custom shortener, multiple images in posts, content suggestions, and custom time settings

Publish send time optimization, social CRM, unified inbox, bit.ly integration

Price: Free, $8.99/month for Pro Version; Business and Enterprise plans depend on the number of users.

Primary Focus: Manage all your social networks in one spot with a customizable dashboard that lets you see several feeds at once.

Sprout Social:
Price: Deluxe plan for $59/user/month; $99/user/month for Premium Plan; $500/month with three users for the Team plan.

Primary Focus: An all in one social media management tool that lets you schedule, publish, analyze, and engage with your audience.

Choosing the right platform to use has so many variables. Each platform has it pros and cons. Do your research. Try out the free or trial plans.

If you need to plan your social media strategy and align it with your business goals better, then contact us and we’ll put together the right option for you.

Gramblr-Sends Your Pictures From Your Computer to Instagram

As a virtual assistant, I love it when I find new tools that make my job so much more efficient and I’ve discovered that tool.

It’s called Gramblr and I found it through an article posted on Social Media Examiner.

It’s as easy as it sounds.

In the past, I’ve used Hootsuite to post to Instagram, but I still had to send them from my phone. I would schedule them in Hootsuite and then I would get a notification on my phone from Hootsuite, have to open the file then post to Instagram.

No more. All I had to do is download the desktop application and I was all set to go. I did have to enter my username and password for Instagram and enter my handle for Twitter.

How It Works

To open on Mac OS X, right click (or CMD+click) and select open, click open in the message box.

Once you have Gramblr’s photo uploader (version 1), you just:

  1. Sign in to Instagram
  2. Choose the photo you would like to upload
  3. Add a caption
  4. Hit upload
  5. If the text boxes are empty on the confirmation window, something went wrong… try again and it should work!

It’s really that easy! I love this new application and I’ll be using it with all of my clients as well. 

Any new tools and tricks you would like to share? Just post them in the comments section below.

Friends & Me & You!

share-to-anywhere-friends-meAre you currently using Friends & Me? It’s a relatively new social media scheduling app.

I started using it a few months ago as an alternative to Hootsuite as it supports scheduling to Google+ profiles and not just the business pages. I manage many profiles so I was looking for this alternative, not necessarily this particular app, but something I could schedule posts to.

I was really happy when I found this through a Google search. So, I took it for a test drive. Now, you can use this to schedule and post to ALL social media accounts, but I’ve been happy with Hootsuite and I don’t want to upset the apple cart, so to speak.

Here are a few of the many benefits to using Friends & Me.


>> Schedule Posts
You don’t have to publish your post right away, schedule your posts for later. Publishing at the right time will help you to reach more of your followers across the globe.

Prepare and queue your new posts when ever you’re ready. It’s all up to you.

Post scheduling for Google+ profiles (you must be logged in), collections, communities and pages supported!

>>Publish Once
Friends+Me will cross-promote your publicly published Google+ posts to all your connected social media accounts.

Cross-promoted posts can be published immediately or queued and published later. This way you can reach your followers at the right time.

team>>Team Up
Invite your co-workers and friends to help you manage your accounts and publish great content.

>>Draft Posts
Draft your new posts. Make them perfect, take the time and publish them when ever you feel they are ready.

manage-accounts>>Manage Social Accounts
Manage your social media accounts from one place.

>>Supported Networks
Friends+Me supports publishing to Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Tumblr.

>>SEO Benefits
Focus on creation of a great content to share, that’s the best thing you can do to increase your (brand) visibility on the Internet.

Don’t forget that Google Search Engine indexes all public Google+ posts.

>>Unique Cross-Promotion Workflow
Friends+Me helps you to focus on Google+ to save significant amount of money and time while still achieving goals by cross-promoting your content across all social networks for you.

Now, this is the part I like:

>>Pricing – Pay for What You Use
No commitment. Pay for what you use each day.

You can read all about the features and pricing of Friends & Me here.

Five Best Keyword Research Tools


We never stop hearing about the importance of keywords and keyword research. Yet when we try and select an easy tool for keyword research, we are inundated with a plethora of suggestions. Far and away, Google provides the better selection of free keyword research tools (see below). Here are four more of the better keyword research tools available:

Keyword Tool

You choose your search engine, country or language, put your keyword into the blank, and hit ‘search’. The tool then gives you suggestions for the most popular keywords that people usually search for. You can then drill down on each single item on the resulting keyword list by clicking on it and getting further long-tail keyword suggestions.


Keyword IO is a free keyword tool allows you to enter a target phrase and choose a specific country to consider for your search. After hitting ‘analyze’, you then get to an overview of potential keyword phrases, keyword trends over time and Top 10 search engine results directly drawn from Google, as well as a listing of keywords based on TF•IDF and TextRank.


Serpstat filters for your specific keyword and a chosen Google domain. You can then filter the resulting keyword list for ‘only questions’ or all keywords that start with a certain search term. They do offer a free account with these features:

  • 30 queries per day
  • 10 keyword & domain results
  • 1 project for tracking domain

Keyword Eye

They have designed a suite of tools for marketing firms and individuals to be able to dig into the data. Data doesn’t lie and you can trust us to give you the best data possible. They provide data to help you design your marketing and SEO campaigns.

There is a free plan available and it includes:

  • 10 keyword searches per day
  • 36 Google Databases
  • Youtube Keyword Suggestions
  • Amazon Keyword Suggestions
  • Google Keyword Suggestions
  • Reddit Trending Content
  • Save/Sync/Analyze Keywords
  • Export into Excel or CSV Files

Google Keyword Tool

Google offers various free keyword research tools.
The most popular and easiest way to get inspiration on long tail keywords probably is Google Suggest. This term describes the drop-down menu opening when simply typing single letters or words into the search bar. The order of offered terms is determined by using a wide range of information in order to decide which query users most likely want to see. The tool therefore provides important insights on potential keywords.

Google Trends visualizes the development of interest for certain search terms over time. It also displays regional interests and identifies related searches regarding general topics as well as specified queries. As the name implies, this is a handy tool for differentiating between trending topics, buzzwords and current issues at all times.

Google Adwords, conceptualized for campaign planning, offers detailed insight into search volumes. This information is important when it comes to competitor analysis for particular search queries. In this regard, it would be a good idea to double check keywords derived from Google Suggest with the Keyword Planner in order to filter very in-demand search terms with the lowest possible competition.

For more information on how we can assist you with your SEO and your Marketing Plan, please call us at 619-623-1036 or email Chris@serenityva.com for your free consultation.

Five Benefits of SEO

5-StepsSEO has been proven to arguably be the best online marketing strategy because of its effectiveness. The following are the most common benefits that experts have found for using an effective SEO strategy.

  1. Increased Traffic – Top positions on the search engine result pages receive a majority of the impressions and clicks, so ranking in these top positions can result in significant traffic increases for your website. SEO also focuses on creating informative and keyword relevant title tags and meta descriptions, which show up in the result pages. Having optimized tags and descriptions helps to increase click through rate, which also promotes increases in qualified web traffic.
  2. Increased site usability – SEO assists in rearranging the site’s architecture and links to make pages within the website easier to find and navigate. In an effort to make your website easier to navigate for the search engines, SEO simultaneously helps to make your website more navigable for users as well. This not only makes it easier for search engines to crawl your site and find pages, but also makes it easier for users to find information on your website as well.
  3. Cost effectiveness – SEO is one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies because it targets users who are actively looking for your products and services online. The traffic resulting from SEO is more qualified than many other marketing strategies, resulting in cost-savings for companies. SEO’s inbound nature helps businesses save money as opposed to outbound strategies like cold-calling.
  4. Brand Awareness – Since top position rankings result in significant impressions, having your website in these top positions on the result pages translates to more exposure for your website. Plus, being on the first page for your targeted keywords not only helps users to associate your brand with those keywords, but it instills trust, since companies on the first page are generally perceived to be more trustworthy. The more your pages and content rank in high positions in the search engines, the more chances you have for users to see your content and associate with your brand.
  5. ROI – SEO provides trackable and quantifiable results, regardless of whether you are an ecommerce or non-ecommerce site so there are no qualms when it comes to ROI. With SEO you are able to track nearly every aspect of your strategy, like increases in rankings, traffic and conversions. Comprehensive analytics provide the ability to drill down at a granular level and see demographic information and other engagement metrics for individuals who have interacted with your website. For Ecommerce sites, you can see which paths users take in order to complete a sale, all the way down to which keyword they used to search for you prior to purchasing. For non-Ecommerce sites, you can attribute values to your lead conversions, like a ‘contact us’ form fill-out, and calculate the value of your SEO strategy that way.

Small and medium businesses can gain a lot of advantages from the SEO. The companies who spend in search engine marketing can have higher ranks on search engine. Those businesses that do not practice SEO can slide down as their situation can turn worse. For the beginners and the current users, knowing about the advantages of SEO will help them hugely to make the best of SEO.

Create Your Free WordPress Blog Site in 9 Easy Steps


Create the perfect site for your business, personal brand, event, portfolio, or online store. It’s free and simple.

  1. Go to https://wordpress.com/

2. Click on “Create a Website”
WordPress.com- Create a free website or blog 2016-04-07 09-54-10

3. Choose a category. This is step 1 of 5.
Step 1

4. In this step, you can choose a sub-category.

Create an account — WordPress.com 2016-04-07 09-57-18

5. Once you have chosen your category, you will need to choose a theme, step 2 of 5.

choose a theme-step 2

6. Now, this is where you can get creative….find a domain. For now, use a free domain. At some point you may want to purchase your own custom domain name, but for now, use the free service.

Create an account — WordPress.com 2016-04-07 10-01-27

Create an account — WordPress.com 2016-04-07 10-02-27 

7. And finally, you’ll need to pick a plan. Use the free plan for now.

Create an account — WordPress.com 2016-04-07 10-03-45

8. Once you have chosen your plan, you will then need to create your account within WordPress.Create your account

9. You will need to confirm your email address, but once this is complete, you are all set to go. You can edit your theme, create posts and pages.

If you need some assistance in setting this up or would like a more custom site, please feel free to contact me directly for a free 15 minute consultation.

Blogging on LinkedIn Pulse? 4 Reasons You Should Be


Do you know about LinkedIn blogs? And are you blogging yet on LinkedIn? I’m not yet, but I will be right after I write this blog post!

Since early 2014, LinkedIn opened its publishing platform to its 300+ million users. Here is your chance to show your expertise in your professional life and without character restrictions! The importance of using a LinkedIn blog is that it will add dimension and help in building a well-documented profile.

According to Business 2 Community, in-depth content works best, don’t hesitate to write very detailed and specific posts about your industry. Contrary to what you are being told for traditional blog posts, the ones being picked up by Pulse (LinkedIn’s app to shed some lights on the best contributions) are pretty wordy with almost no visual. Indeed, you should opt for a newspaper-like kind of formatting. Black text on a white background.

  1. Here’s the real upside, once you publish, all of your contacts will be notified of your posting and again, remind your connections that you are indeed an expert in your field.
  2. Recruiters will notice you as well. Now, that may not seem like a big deal if you already have a job, but, recruiters are looking for more than potential employees. Let’s say, for instance, you are a career coach or a leadership development consultant. You may be writing a post about the benefits of hiring an expert, such as yourself and a recruiter happens to read your blog post, this could lead to consulting work for you within that company that the recruiter works for.There’s not a lot of folks blogging yet on LinkedIn, yet. It’s still a fairly open marketplace for your expertise. Publishing on LinkedIn will give you a real edge, and you should start now while there isn’t much competition.
  3. LinkedIn is not just about your expertise (although we’d like to think that some times), but it’s about others as well. Here is a golden opportunity for you to get new business contacts, build meaningful relationships and so on. If you’re writing on a regular basis and your writing is of value, even 3rd degree connections may possibly invite you to connect. The possibilities can be endless with just one simple blog post.
  4. Just think of all of those comments! Just think of all of those conversations you can start and get involved in. Besides, that is what “social media” is all about. We forget that sometimes. It’s about the conversation, it’s about being social.

If you’re not using this free tool to get noticed on LinkedIn, you’re really missing a fantastic opportunity. Have questions on how you can get started, contact me for a free 15 minute consultation.

Do you have what it takes to be a virtual assistant?

Virtual AssistantI was recently contacted by 2 friends, both administrative assistants asking me what it would take to become a Virtual Assistant/VA. The most predominant question asked was, what kind of money can they make.

That’s a difficult question to answer as it really does depend on your skill-set and what value you can bring to potential clients. I did ask this question of them and neither of them had an answer to that question, but they did tell me they were going to do more research!

So, I did a little research myself….

“Wikipedia.org defines a Virtual Assistant as the following: “A Virtual Assistant (or simply VA), is an independent contractor providing administrative, technical, or sometimes creative assistance to clients – usually to other independent entrepreneurs and solo and small business practices, such as that of a lawyer or realtor. Virtual Assistants work from their own office (hence “virtual”), thus making it a fairly popular (and growing) profession.” In simple terms, a Virtual Assistant acts as your own “satellite office”… without the office overhead!”

Here’s the next question, how to become a virtual assistant.

Many folks hear “virtual assistance” and think of administrative assistance, like a secretary. It can mean that, but that’s not all. There’s a big list of possibilities ranging in areas of expertise and experience.

  • Writing
  • Ghostwriting
  • Graphic design
  • Researching
  • Editing
  • Tutoring
  • Desktop publishing
  • Counseling
  • Audio/video/photo editing
  • Coaching
  • Consulting
  • Bookkeeping
  • Copywriting
  • Social media management
  • Project management
  • Transcription
  • Programming
  • Data entry
  • and anything else you can do without having to be in the same physical location as your client. Call it “virtual assistance.”

Rates ranging anywhere from $15 to $100+ an hour (depending on your skill), it’s a great option for those who want to work from home. Be careful of what you offer in what price range as many of the above can be found on sites like Fiverr.com, Elance.com and Odesk.com

Here are a few items you will need to get started:

  1. A website. This is a MUST.  People need to be able to find you. Your own presence on the web is crucial. It gives you a more professional appearance, the chance to highlight some of your skills and an opportunity to explain your process. You can have a site up on the quick and cheap from HostGator.com or GoDaddy.com. It doesn’t have to be pretty to start out, but get something up!
  2. Read Virtual Assistant – The Series: Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA by Diana Ennen and Kelly Poelker
  3. Get involved in Social Media. And not just your kid’s pictures. Research your potential clients and competition. You can find out a lot about them by seeing what kind of content they post.
  4. Check out what other VAs are doing. This goes hand-in-hand with the last item.

There are so many opportunities for  you to make money online. If you do it the “right” way, you can be very successful! Do your research! I am and I did!!!

6 Ways to Promote Your Event Online

Do you have clients that want you to promote your events? Do they put as much time into promoting the Do you put just as much effort into promoting the events when they’re under way, and afterward, as you do before the big day?

I’ll bet they don’t.

That’s why I was thrilled to find these tips galore from social marketing expert Justice Mitchell on how to create social content to promote live events before, during and after they occur.

Even if you don’t do all of them for smaller events you’re hosting, you’ll find lots of new ideas like these:

–At 5:30 a.m. the day of the event, release a breakdown of the daily agenda and tweet agenda items at 15-minunte intervals.

–At 7 a.m., shoot Instagrams of your staff setting up for the event.

–At 8 a.m., take photos of people registering and upload to your Facebook gallery.

–After the event, send everyone who attended a survey and get immediate feedback. Ask questions that encourage constructive criticism.

–Use these attendees as a “think tank” for planning next year’s event.

–Create an updated version of your event page with the following year’s date and information. “If you don’t have it, that’s fine, but you can give a sense of the future and not just have a dead digital property until the next event occurs.”

Read all his tips on Social Content Marketing Planning for a Live Event.

Notice he encourages the use of hashtags throughout the entire PR campaign. If you aren’t sure what a hashtag is or why it’s important, you can get help. The video replay of a webinar hosted by Joan Stewart, “How to Use Hashtags: The New Search Tool” explains all the ways to use the symbol # in your social media messages and make it easier to attract new followers.

When you buy the replay, you’ll get a big bonus package that includes a checklist of questions to ask yourself so you create the most powerful hashtag possible.