Last Updated December 6th, 2018

Foolproof Strategies To Come Up With Social Media Content Ideas

Foolproof Strategies To Come Up With Social Media Content Ideas

If you want to succeed with social media marketing for your blog, you need to have a steady stream of content prepared for it. Social media is a great way to bring in traffic, but you have to work for it. It’s not an instant solution for driving traffic to your website. One of the most important steps is to generate lots of social media content ideas to promote your blog.

No matter what the type of content you’re sharing, do your best to include an image. It’s extra work to add them in, but if you get better results from your social media marketing, it’s time well spent.

Images don’t have to be fancy. Use a photo you took for your blog post when possible, and Creative Commons Zero images if you have to. There are lots of sites where you can get free images for your blog.

Different social media sites will do well with different image sizes. Take some time to learn what does well for each and figure out how to adapt your images quickly for each usage.

Your Most Recent Post

This one should be obvious… promote your most recent posts on social media.

Don’t just promote it once. Prepare some variations and plan your promotion schedule.

Your Old Posts

Are your old posts just sitting there on your blog, or are you promoting them too?

Go through your old posts regularly and set them up for promotion Update images as necessary, and confirm that the links aren’t broken.

Also, check the post for new links within your site you can add. An old post may be relevant to a newer post. A quick rewrite to update information and refresh the blog post can help you improve it.

Some of your posts will be evergreen, and you can promote them anytime. Others will be seasonal, and you should schedule them appropriately.

You may also have some posts that don’t ever need to be promoted again. They may relate to events which were current when you wrote them, for example, but are no longer relevant now. If there’s no way to make these posts relevant again, don’t bother promoting them.

social media posting

Other People’s Content

Social media isn’t social if it’s all about you. Take the time to discover great content other people have created that your followers will enjoy.

Retweet people on Twitter.

Repin other people on Pinterest.

Share great content from others on Facebook.

You get the idea.

You can also comment on other people’s social media posts. Comments tend to make the posts do better, and can bring attention to your profile if your comment is interesting or informative. None of that “good post” garbage – say something that matters.

Guest Posts

If you wrote a guest post for another site, make sure you promote it at least as well as you would any of the posts on your blog. You want it to be a good value for the blog that published it. It’s also more eyes on your content, which is a step toward visiting your site. Good all around.

Events

Are you planning an event that your followers will be interested in? Promote the heck out of it on your social media. How often you post it will depend on the particular social media site – you don’t want to look spammy – but if you have something special coming up for your followers, give them plenty of opportunities to hear about it.

social media idea

Infographics

A good infographic can get a lot of attention on social media. It allows you to share more information from your post than you would otherwise. If you design it well, your infographic will be shared often and bring people to your website. Infographics are more likely to be shared than other types of content.

Your full infographic may not be immediately visible on your social media accounts when you share it. Most sites cut images to a certain size until visitors click on them. That’s fine, but make sure your image is appealing even when cut off.

Infographics are a great opportunity to have a little fun with your images. Use interesting graphics with text to catch people’s attention. Humor also helps.

Don’t let the thought of creating an infographic intimidate you. Once you know what information you want to present, there are plenty of tools to make the actual creation easy. Here are some options:

Quotes

If you follow a lot of people on Twitter, you’ve probably seen people who share quotes regularly. That’s because they work there.

It’s not that quote tweets bring visitors to your website – they often don’t include a link to a site. It’s that they have a better chance than many tweets of being retweeted, which brings attention to your account.

You can share quotes on other sites as well. For visual sites such as Pinterest and Instagram, create an attractive image to go with the quote.

Keep the quotes you use relevant to your niche. A quote that inspires people or that makes them laugh will often do well.

Holidays

People love to celebrate holidays, and I don’t just mean Christmas and New Year’s.

Keep a calendar that helps you to track whichever religious holidays you want to post about on your social media. It doesn’t take much to acknowledge a holiday, even if it’s one you don’t celebrate.

You can also have fun with some of the assorted holidays people have come up with to celebrate just about anything, from chocolate to hats to happiness. These days may not be “real” holidays as such, but they’re a great excuse to have a little fun with your social media posts, especially if the day is relevant to your niche.

Product Recommendations

You don’t always have to get an affiliate commission to make a product recommendation. In fact, you will gain trust from your followers if you don’t always stand to gain financially from the things you recommend.

What have you used recently that really worked out well for you? A quick blurb is all it takes, although a picture isn’t a bad idea as well.

Get Controversial

Is something controversial going on that your followers might be interested in? Post on social media about it. State your opinion.

There is some risk to this, of course, as some people are bound to disagree with you if the subject is indeed controversial. But it may also get attention.

Recommend Others

Who do you follow on social media? Why?

People are always looking for great people to follow on social media. When you find someone really worth following in your niche, recommend them to your followers. Not only will your followers appreciate this, so will the person you recommend. This can be great for building online relationships.

social media photo

Videos

Making videos for social media is challenging for most people. It’s hard to get comfortable making them, even if you don’t show your face on camera.

Depending on your comfort level, there are a lot of ways to make videos. If you’re comfortable with going live, for example, Facebook Live or Instagram Stories may be good choices.

You can post other kinds of video on YouTube or other sites. Pinterest allows business users to upload videos now as well, although you can simply pin the video from YouTube if you prefer.

Twitter Chats

Twitter chats are a way to interact with your followers by setting up a hashtag for your chat and telling everyone when to use it.

Plan ahead by having a variety of questions you can post to the chat, and give people time to answer. Retweet or respond to as many answers as possible.

Some people even set up prizes for their Twitter chats to drive more interest in the chat. You can have participants sign up in advance in order to be eligible for the prize.

Ask For Advice

You may want to be the expert in many ways on your blog, but we all need advice at times. When you have a question, post it on social media and encourage people to share their solutions.

Behind The Scenes Of Your Blog

Do you ever share what really goes into making your blog work, the challenges and triumphs you have as you work?

You may want to. It’s a great way to make your social media account more personal.

I don’t suggest posting constant complaints about problems you’ve run into. You can be too negative when you let people go behind the scenes. And while allowing people to see that you struggle with things too is a good idea, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do that.

Behind the scenes posts can be fun. A blooper reel of a video you were making might be fun to upload, for example.

You can also share what your workspace looks like and how you set it up, or talk about how you create the great images and posts your fans have come to enjoy.

Giveaways And Contests

People love free stuff. It’s just that simple.

You don’t have to come up with a huge prize to get responses to a giveaway. Obviously, the bigger the prize, the more people will want it, but even a $20 gift card can get some good attention on social media.

You may be able to work with a sponsor for giveaways and contests as well, or with blogging groups. This way you don’t have to spend so much money on it, and you’re not the only one promoting the giveaway at first.

Most giveaways require that visitors sign up for a newsletter, share the post on social media, or taking a photo and posting it on social media with a relevant hashtag. Exactly what you should require entrants to do will depend on what you think will work best for your giveaway. You want it to be easy and fun to enter.

Take some time to review laws in your area regarding giveaways and contests. You don’t want to get into legal trouble.

phone

Cool Photos

Did you just take a photo you love? Share it on your social media even if it’s not directly related to your business. That sunset photo, picture of your cat doing something cute or whatever else comes out well can do well on social media. There’s also the classic photo of your dinner when it just looks that delicious.

Memes can also be fun to share. You can even create your own if you like. But even something created by other people may get shares and likes. If your social media accounts make people smile, they’ll probably keep following you.

Be careful when sharing photos that aren’t yours, however. You don’t want to run afoul of copyright laws. Some uses may be considered fair use, while other uses break copyright laws.

Memories

What was it like when you first started your blog? How have you changed? How has your blog changed?

it can be interesting for followers to see how a site has changed. It’s also an opportunity to open up about challenges you’ve overcome while growing your online business.

Quick Tips And Challenges

Do you have a bit of advice to share that isn’t enough for a blog post but is still interesting? Share it on your social media.

This could be something as simple as challenging your followers to do something on a particular day or a bit of advice on handling a life obstacle. Keep it simple and encourage your followers to respond to the tip or challenge.

Polls And Quizzes

Have you ever noticed how often polls and quizzes get shared on social media? When they’re done just right, it’s pretty amazing how many people will respond to them, even when the results have no real meaning. I mean, does it really matter which Disney Princess you are?

You may even get some useful information if you make the poll or quiz relevant to your niche. Make sure you have a solid privacy policy in place and respect your users and the information they share with you.

User Generated Content

This idea won’t work for every blogger, but if your followers share pictures or reviews about your products or blog, share them on your own social media.

First of all, this shows that people like what you’re doing. It’s proof that you’re doing something right.

But it also makes the person who shared with you feel good. You’re paying attention to them. You noticed what they said about your site or product. That will make them an even bigger fan.

Statistics

Have you come across an interesting statistic for your niche? Share it!

People like interesting statistics. They often share or like them on social media.

Now That You Have Your Social Media Content Ideas…

Getting social media content ideas is only the beginning. You also need to know how to use it.

Content that works well on Twitter, for example, may flop on Pinterest or Instagram. People use Facebook and LinkedIn in entirely different ways. Your social media content ideas must be adapted to each platform you use them on – you can’t do the same thing on all of your accounts.

Besides, you’ll annoy your audience if all your social media is identical. They expect different things on different platforms, even if they follow you multiple ways.

Creating a spreadsheet for your posts may help. I prefer to set mine up for each social media platform. Then I list the blog post title and the promotion dates.

For content that is seasonal, such as for holidays, back to school and so forth, set up spreadsheets that will help you remember to promote them in advance of each event.

Use Social Media Scheduling Tools

You don’t want your social media marketing to eat up your entire workday. While it can be difficult to commit to paying the cost of some social media scheduling tools, they’re often well worth the cost when it comes to time saved. This way you can spend more of your time coming up with social media content ideas, rather than on scheduling them out.

While there are a lot of great choices out there, I use just two – Hootsuite and Tailwind.

Hootsuite can be used to schedule content to run on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. There are also apps you can add in to extend Hootsuite even further.

I mostly use Hootsuite for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I tried scheduling my pins with it, but I found that integration difficult to use.

Tailwind for Pinterest, on the other hand, works great for me. It is so easy to schedule pins out with Tailwind. It’s well worth the subscription. I save a ton of time using it.

Most tools are cheaper if you pay at least a year at a time. This may feel risky, but there’s also usually a free trial, so you’ll know what you’re getting into before you commit a lot of money.

There are still things I do on each social media site itself – not all of my social media interactions are done using tools. I post on a lot of group boards on Pinterest, for example, and most require that you share other content from that board. Can’t schedule that on Tailwind – I have to go to the site and do it myself.

Scheduling tools not only make it faster to schedule your social media content – they help keep you from spending an excessive amount of time on these sites. If you had to go to each social media site every time you wanted to share a post, you’d probably get sucked in too often. Social media becomes a time waster all too easily. Keeping it at a distance except at those times you’re deliberately being social is a huge help.

If you haven’t tried a social media scheduling tool, I suggest you try one now. Take a free trial and find out how much faster you can schedule out your social media. Your life may become much easier.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated August 28th, 2018

Is Your Blog Pinterest-Friendly? Do You Want It To Be?

Is Your Blog Pinterest-Friendly? Do You Want It To Be?

Pinterest is huge right now, with both praise and controversy. Some blogs are getting huge traffic from Pinterest. Fortunately, it’s not that hard to make your blog Pinterest-friendly.

It comes down to one simple thing: have pinnable images.

The images on your blog post are what will show up on Pinterest. Design high quality images and they may be repinned over and over, driving amazing traffic.

That said, there are a few catches. Like most things, it’s really not as simple as it first sounds.

Respect Image Copyright

One problem basically comes down to copyright. Users are supposed to make sure they have the right to share the photos they pin, but not everyone does. It’s a part of the TOS that some ignore. This can cause legal issues.

You don’t want this to become an issue for your own pinboards. It’s not just that your pins can be removed for copyright infringement. It’s that you may have to pay serious money for copyright infringement. Legally, that can be anywhere from $200 – 150,000 per infringement.

It’s not that hard to respect image copyright. Get your images from the right resources, and it won’t be a problem at all. Consider these options:

Create Your Own Images

The absolute safest thing to do when it comes to image copyright is to create your own images. This way, you own the copyright. No worries about someone else.

For some kinds of sites, this is the only way to go anyhow. If you run a crafting blog or recipe blog, you need original photos. Stock photos won’t show what you need for such sites.

But you can create your own images for any kind of site. It’s not always easy, but it is possible.

Images don’t have to be photographs, of course. You can have text on a solid background if that’s what works for your post.

Use Paid Stock Photos

If you use stock photos on your site, you don’t own the copyright on them, and in time this may be an issue for people who use Pinterest. Some royalty-free photos you use don’t include a license to have them go onto sites you don’t own. You don’t want to pin them onto your own boards to market your site and you shouldn’t encourage pinning of that page either.

Fortunately, Pinterest allows you to block an image from being pinned from your site.

In WordPress, switch to the text editing tab of the visual editor. This allows you to view the HTML. Go to the image you want to block from being pinned. The HTML should look something like this: <img src=”yourimage.png”>

Add the nopin code like this: <img src=”yourimage.png” data-pin-nopin=”true”>

Blocking pinning is a very good idea if you don’t have the rights to spread the image around. It may not directly be your fault that someone has pinned the image from your site, but if you know there’s an issue, it’s not that hard to prevent it.

Use Creative Commons Zero Images

pencils and paper

I have a great fondness for using Creative Commons Zero (CC0) images. These are images that theoretically allow you to use them however you would like.

You can modify them, use them commercially, whatever you want.

So what’s the risk?

The risk is that someone may have added them to a CC0 site without permission.

It’s a good idea to do a little research on your CC0 images, to see if there are any obvious problems with using it, especially if there’s anything that makes you doubt its CC0 status.

This can also help you decide if the image has been used too often by others. Some CC0 images get used so much that your use of that image won’t stand out.

This can especially be a problem on Pinterest. Having your adaptation of that image be one of many of that same image can impact its performance. Pinterest is very good at recognizing images.

There are ways you can make even these images more unique, however. I don’t mean adding text – that’s too small a difference. Everyone does that.

You can put two or more images together, for example. You can make a collage of relevant images.

Another way to combine images is to find or make an image with a transparent background that you can place on top of another image, to add something to it. You could place a cat in a field of flowers, for example, or do as I did in this post and place a pile of folded towels on a desk.

How much you can do depends on your skills and the image editing tools you use. I can do a fair bit with Gimp, and I don’t think of myself as that great an expert. There are lots of people who can do far more than I can with image editing.

Make Multiple Pinnable Images

Pinterest loves it when you provide multiple images for your content. They’re more of a search engine than a social site in many ways, and that’s a part of what you need to consider in creating content for Pinterest. I try for at least 3 pinnable images per post, even if I have to hide the extras.

Multiple pinnable images gives you a lot of advantages when pinning. It puts more variety in the pins you share on Pinterest.

Making multiple pinnable images doesn’t mean you have to have tons of huge images in your posts. You can control which images are pinnable on your site, and that includes telling Pinterest to use a particular image in the place of another. I’ve described this in more detail in my post on controlling which images can be pinned from your posts, but here’s that part again:

<img src="image.png" data-pin-media="image-you-want-pinned.png" alt="image description" />

Upload the image you designed for Pinterest to your WordPress media area, and use the image URL in the data-pin-media section.

Every image should have its own description for Pinterest. Pinterest loves unique content. You don’t want all your different images to have the same descriptions. Pop this into the img section of your HMTL, before or after the data-pin-media section:

data-pin-description="description you want on your pinned post"

Vary your descriptions, using keywords you believe are relevant to your post and that will drive traffic from Pinterest. Use relevant hashtags.

Pinners can change your descriptions to whatever they want when they pin your content, but that’s all to the good. You’ve given them a start so that those who just want to pin and move on still have a solid description on their pins, while those who want to say their own thing can do that as well.

crayons

Set Up Your Pinterest Business Account

While you don’t have to set up a Pinterest business account to use it for your business, I strongly recommend you do so. This is how you get access to Pinterest Analytics, which will give you information on how well your pins are performing.

It’s not hard to do. I’ve gone through the steps in this article.

It takes a little time to get set up, but it’s worth the effort. If you do things right, your pins should perform better, plus the information from analytics will help you figure out what works for you.

Once you’ve done that, consider taking a Pinterest marketing course so that you know what you’re doing. It will help you avoid some of the more common mistakes people make.

Use Social Media Sharing Plugins

A good social media sharing plugin will help make your site more Pinterest-friendly. This way people can easily pin off your site when they see something they like.

Ideally, you want a Pinterest link off to the side on your posts as well as a Pin It button on all of your images. You never know which of these buttons a visitor will want to use.

If you don’t have such buttons on your site, it is much harder for people to share your site on Pinterest. You’ll get less traffic from Pinterest if you don’t have people sharing from your site because they find it interesting.

I’m currently using the Shareaholic plugin, although I’m considering going to something else. I’ve used it for a long time, which means I’m overdue for checking to see if anyone does the job better. I’m considering Social Warfare, which looks quite affordable even on the Pro side of things. The features are more appealing to me.

Use Tailwind

My favorite tool for pinning from my site onto Pinterest is Tailwind. While your use of Tailwind has no impact on your users, it can be of tremendous benefit to you.

Scheduling your pins with Tailwind is incredibly easy. That’s what sold me on it.

I’ve done manual pinning. I’ve scheduled pins with Hootsuite. It doesn’t compare to how easy Tailwind is to use. Hootsuite is wonderful for other uses, but Tailwind is far superior for Pinterest.

If you have any doubts at all, sign up for Tailwind’s free trial and see for yourself with no risk at all. That’s what I did. I wasn’t far into the trial at all before I was sold on paying for a subscription.

Using Tailwind to get your pins onto Pinterest is one of the basic Pinterest marketing steps you should take. It’s fast and easy. You can get your pins scheduled out months in advance, rather than having to go back to your posts and remembering to pin every day.

Is Pinterest Worth It?

pinterest on tablet

Some people feel that the traffic they get from Pinterest is not to their benefit, which is why some sites block pinning entirely. There are some good reasons to consider whether Pinterest is worth it for your site.

If you’re selling photographs or things you’ve made, for example, you need to balance the traffic you get from Pinterest with your concern that people are pinning your ideas to steal for later. Are you losing more than you’re gaining?

For the most part, I would consider the traffic from Pinterest worth those risks.

Why?

The people who only want to steal ideas from you won’t buy anyhow. But they might expose your work to others who will buy.

Thieves will find your work anyhow if that’s the kind of thing they’re looking for. Maybe not as easily, but they’ll find it.

If you’re still having doubt, I invite you to consider these success stories:

5 Inspiring Pinterest Marketing Case Studies
Success stories

Most people won’t have this kind of success, especially right away. But you don’t need an extreme amount of success for Pinterest to be worth your while. You only need enough targeted traffic to come to be worth your while. Viral pins are an occasional side benefit you may get.

Will Pinterest Work For Your Niche?

I remember when I had my doubts about using Pinterest. I had them for a long time. It was hard to see how it would work in my niche. Recipe sites? Sure. Products for sale? Why not? But here?

Suffice to say I was wrong.

I’m still playing catch up with my Pinterest marketing, and I know that. I’d be getting a lot more traffic from there if I had started years ago. But do you know when the next best time to get started is?

Right now, of course!

Pinterest marketing is low risk. You’ll spend some time on it, but it works for many niches, and not just the ones that have to do with making things or being creative. It’s worth a try almost no matter your niche.

I strongly recommend using a tool such as Tailwind to make pinning easier as you try it. You can do manual pinning, but it will take up a lot of time, especially as you try to keep track of what you’ve pinned where and when.

Been there, done that. Should’ve bought Tailwind sooner.

At worst, you’ve spent some money and found something that doesn’t work for your site. If you’re serious about your business, these things will happen. It’s not that big a financial risk if your business is otherwise making money.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated July 16th, 2018

When Viral Marketing Works Too Well

When Viral Marketing Works Too Well

If you were paying attention to the news or social media at all around July 12, you probably heard about Build A Bear’s “Pay Your Age” day. Hordes of parents with children showed up for this amazing deal, waiting for hours for the bargain. Stores had to close their doors because the crowds were too big. Officials cited safety concerns in many places.

It was a huge case of viral marketing that worked too well.

Honestly, that they didn’t consider the crowd situation well enough surprised me. As soon as I heard about the deal, I knew the crowds would be unmanageable, which is why I didn’t tell my youngest about it. I knew she’d desperately want to go, and I am not the kind of mom who stands for hours in line for a toy.

All this was to promote their program that kids can get a pay your age birthday bear. The company also offered $15 vouchers to make up for the mess. Not the same as paying your age for most people, but not a terrible deal.

This kind of problem can hit you as an online business too. Going viral is a goal most bloggers and online business owners have. Not everyone is ready for what can happen.

My Experience With Too Much Website Traffic

I’ve been hit with an excess of traffic once myself. It was quite an experience. The timing was such that it was more difficult to deal with than it would have been at any other time.

You see, I had just moved. My site had been hit so hard that my host had shut it down for overusing the server.

And I didn’t know until the cable company connected my internet service.

In this case, it was a link to my site in an article that was shared on a few big sites. All at once, I had far more traffic hitting my site than my hosting plan allowed.

There were comments on the articles questioning my legitimacy because my site was down. Somehow I might be trying to scam people because my site was down. I’m not sure how that works, but some people were concerned.

Fortunately, my hosting company was very willing to work with me on a temporary upgrade to deal with the sudden increase of traffic. The increased income was worth the trouble.

Why wasn’t I prepared?

The interview I had done for the article had happened months before. I didn’t know where or when it would be posted. In fact, I had given up on anything happening with that interview. So naturally, things happened right when we had to move for my husband’s new job.

That’s how things work, isn’t it?

It was also my first huge surge in traffic. I’d never experienced anything like it before. I learned a lot about the kind of traffic that’s available in this niche that way.

Going viral is often hard to prepare for, no matter how hard you’ve worked at it.

thumbs up

What Is Viral Marketing?

People always talk about going viral. Most people can name things they’ve seen go viral.

It’s not just big companies that go viral. How many people remember “the dress?” Mentioning the dress can still make some people groan over the whole fuss about what color it was. I’ve seen a few other attempts at going viral over colors that people disagree on, but nothing like that.

The goal of viral marketing is to spread information by word of mouth. Many companies aim to get viral campaigns going over social media, as many people share freely on social media.

How the marketing campaign spreads doesn’t matter, so long as it spreads widely. You don’t see many campaigns aiming to go viral over email these days. This probably has to do with the frustration many people have over forwarded emails. They can get difficult to read as they get repeatedly forwarded, diminishing the effect over time.

Viral marketing campaigns can be entertaining. They can offer an exceptionally good deal.

Viral marketing does not have to spread out to everyone. You only need your marketing to spread to your target audience. People who will never be interested in what you have to offer are not your target for any kind of marketing.

Going viral will be different for every marketer. If your niche is small, you don’t want a viral campaign that appeals to the world.

Example:

Let’s say you’re selling a blogging course, as many bloggers do. You’ve had some success with your blogging, and you want to share your techniques with people interested in starting their own blogs.

While you may think of blogging as something anyone can try, the simple truth of the matter is that you need better targeting than that. Who do you think will be interested in learning to blog from you? Pick your niche.

Your target audience will probably relate to the kind of blogging you do. They’re the people you can give the best advice to. There are some differences, after all, in blogging about parenting versus running a blog for a charity.

If you’re trying to go viral, target the audience you know. A successful parenting blogger already has some ideas on how to attract people to that subject. You will probably have more luck attracting people in that niche who would also like to start a blog than in attracting people who aren’t in that niche. You already have a reputation and a following in your niche, which gives you a head start.

Target the people trying to start a blog for a charity, and they’ll see you as just some parenting blogger, not a real authority on their needs. An attempt to catch their attention and get them to buy your course will probably fall flat.

Going Viral Is Not Always Deliberate

Much as you might want control over when you go viral, it’s not something that happens on command, nor can you avoid it at times. Word of mouth marketing of any sort is impossible to control.

Just imagine having a business where you make something, and without advance notification, it gets featured on a huge site. You get slammed with business, plus criticism for not having enough of your product.

Yet all you did was run your business as usual. The discovery and word of mouth chatter wasn’t due to anything unusual you did, aside from offering an interesting product. Hopefully, you can make the most of it if that ever happens to you.

Is Viral Always Good For A Business?

Viral marketing attempts can go sour. Going viral in the wrong way can be damaging to your business. Too great a focus on going viral can be one of the biggest social media mistakes you can make. Viral marketing is only a part of your social media strategy. It shouldn’t be the whole thing.

Just think about how “switching” to IHOb went for IHOP. That attempt at going viral resulted in significant mockery for them. They also got attention to their new burgers, which may be a benefit, but overall most people weren’t impressed. But if getting people to talk about the switch was the goal, it worked. People now know IHOP has burgers, even if they didn’t like the marketing campaign at all.

On the other hand, it was a lot of fun for other restaurants to mock the switch:

Sometimes a company will go viral for something they did wrong. Think about some of the recent videos you may have seen of people being kicked off their plane flights.

Viral videos can also impact individuals. The video of the woman calling police on the little black girl who was selling water in front of her apartment ended with the woman resigning from her job.

Sometimes companies react well to negative viral videos. Starbucks closed their stores for a day of retraining after a video of two black men being arrested at one of their locations went viral. Starbucks has been very open about the changes they’ve made to hopefully avoid such racial profiling in their stores in the future. Hopefully it sticks.

fireworks

How To Prepare For When Viral Marketing Works

If you’re trying to figure out viral marketing, you need to consider what happens when it works out. You don’t want to be caught unprepared if things work out.

For an online business, that means high quality hosting. I’m currently using A2 Hosting, which I like quite well. I haven’t had the chance to test them on high traffic levels yet, but they have upgrades available, so if the plan I have right now isn’t enough, I can move to something better.

If you’re serious about going viral, the time will come that you will need a virtual private server or dedicated hosting. If you’re earning money, these become a good investment and will be vital to your success.

Unless you’re completely comfortable with controlling the server on your own, you would want managed versions of these types of hosting.

Any host will shut you down on a shared server if you’re using more than your share of resources for a period of time. That’s so that your traffic surge doesn’t take down other sites. You would want them to do that to any other site on your shared hosting if it were your site being taken down by a surge on someone else’s site.

A good hosting company will help you move your site FAST if you get clobbered by traffic. But they may or may not contact you to let you know that you need the upgrade if you want your site up.

If your marketing is going well, it will be worthwhile to stay on higher level hosting, rather than bumping up when the rush comes.

Make Sure Your Product Is Ready

One of the big mistakes Build A Bear made was in not having their stores and products ready. They knew there would be a surge of traffic. They vastly underrated how huge the surge would be.

Whatever your product may be, if you’re trying to go viral, make sure you have enough for the potential demand.

This is relatively easy if your product is downloadable. All you need are servers powerful enough to take the traffic.

It’s much more difficult if you’re offering a physical product. You may have to explain to disappointed customers what your production times are, or even refuse orders if you don’t have a way to increase product production.

There’s no point to trying to go viral if you don’t have a product, even if that product is simply the content on your site. Make sure you have a solid way to monetize your traffic if that’s the case, of course. You don’t want to pay for more powerful servers if you can’t earn anything.

Being caught unprepared is how viral marketing can go too well for a small business or blog. If you’re trying to go viral, make plans for if you succeed. Even if you aren’t trying to go viral, consider what you would do if you suddenly had more traffic to your site than you can currently handle.

It won’t hurt to plan ahead so you can move quickly should the situation arise.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated July 10th, 2018

Do You Have Your Pinterest Business Account?

Do You Have Your Pinterest Business Account?

How’s Pinterest working for promoting your online blog or business? Are you having a lot of success with it? Even if you aren’t sure how much you’re going to like Pinterest for marketing purposes, I strongly suggest setting up a Pinterest business account. It has a lot of advantages that you’re missing out on if you don’t bother with it.

A Pinterest business account in many ways is not that different from a personal Pinterest account. Your pins look the same to others. Pinning works exactly the same. It’s free. It’s the little extras that business accounts get that make it worthwhile to either switch your account over to a Pinterest business account or start an entirely separate Pinterest account for your business.

What’s The Difference?

It can be difficult to understand why you should make the switch to a Pinterest business account when you can’t see an immediate difference. It won’t give your pins preferential treatment or anything like that. So why bother?

The difference comes in what only you can see in your account. The tools you can use with a business account can help you use Pinterest in a much more effective way.

Take the profile or board widget, for example. You can use it to share your recent pins on your website. This could be useful in drawing more attention to your pinboards, hopefully to encourage more shares of your material on Pinterest and eventually drive more traffic to your site. After all, building your traffic is what it’s about if you’re a business.

The big deal, however, comes from the analytics you get with a business account. There are aspects that make relatively little difference, but some of the features of Pinterest analytics are essential to understanding how well your pins are performing on Pinterest. We’ll cover that shortly.

How To Convert To A Pinterest Business Account

It’s fairly easy to convert a new or personal Pinterest account to a business account. It only takes a few moments, in fact.

If you’re starting a brand new Pinterest account to use for business, go to Pinterest for Business and click Join as a Business. Follow the instructions there to set up your new account. It won’t take long. Pinterest needs a few details about your business and the person managing the profile.

You will also want to provide a link to your website and verify your ownership of it. Pinterest provides simple steps to do this.

If you plan on using your current Pinterest account, you can use this link to convert your account to a business account. Once again, it’s quite simple to do, and you will want to verify your website, just as you would if you had made an entirely new account.

If you have the Yoast SEO plugin, the simplest way to verify your site with Pinterest is to go to the Pinterest tab of the Social menu of that plugin, and add the meta tag provided by Pinterest right there. This way you don’t have to mess with your blog’s HTML, which makes some people nervous. Pinterest provides instructions to verify your site other ways, but this is the easiest if you have Yoast SEO installed on your WordPress blog.

yoast verify pinterest

Should You Use Your Pinterest Business Account For Personal Pins?

If you’ve been using your personal Pinterest account for your business pins as well as your personal pins, you may want to consider whether you should continue to do the same when you move to a Pinterest business account.

Keeping your business account strictly business has the advantage of focus. Followers of your business account will know exactly what kinds of pins to expect you to share. This can be an advantage, as it also helps Pinterest to know what kinds of pins you’re sharing.

On the other hand, it can be easier to keep your Pinterest account super active if you do all of your personal and business pinning on one account. So long as you keep your boards well organized and optimized, this may not be the worst thing… so long as your personal pins don’t make your brand look bad.

Some of your personal pins may be interesting to your business followers, of course. This depends on your niche. If you blog about parenting and family life, for example, no one is likely to mind seeing your recipe pins as well.

If you’re truly concerned, but don’t want to have multiple Pinterest accounts to keep track of, you can pin your personal pins only into secret boards. This way you can still see the things you like while logged into your Pinterest business account, but your followers won’t see anything you don’t want them to see.

Enable Rich Pins

If you want Pinterest to show as much information as possible about pins from your site, you must activate Rich Pins. Once again, if you have Yoast SEO, this is simple.

Go to the Facebook tab of the Social menu of your Yoast SEO plugin. Make sure that ‘Add Open Graph meta data’ is enabled. Save the changes.

yoast rich pins

Now go to this page on Pinterest to validate your site for Rich Pins. Give it a link to a single blog post. Click Validate, and see if it worked. That’s all it should take. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to follow the documentation and try to figure out what went wrong. Most blogs shouldn’t have any problems at all.

Making The Most Of Analytics

Pinterest analytics are the big reason most bloggers love their business accounts. It’s a huge help to know how your pins are performing. Just make sure you’re looking at the right statistics.

Monthly Viewers

I consider the Monthly Viewers statistic that Pinterest puts right up there something of a ‘meh’ statistic. It helps you see if your pins are being viewed more, but views are nothing.

Most especially, views aren’t action. You want action.

The one good thing about seeing your monthly views go up is that most likely your other statistics are doing better as well. It’s not a lot of information, but it’s a little and can help alert you to changes that you need to look at.

Monthly Engaged

Monthly Engaged is the other statistic Pinterest puts right up in front of you. It has a little more meaning than Monthly Viewers, but not a lot. It simply means that someone interacted in some way with your pin. You don’t know which way with this statistic, but it’s still good to see this number get bigger.

To learn more, you need to click on the Analytics dropdown menu you see on you business profile, and take a look at the different sections.

pinterest analytics dropdown

Overview

The Overview section of your analytics gives you a quick look at what’s going on with your account. When I look at mine, for example, I see a drop at the moment. This is likely related to the Fourth of July holiday that we just passed as of this writing.

Events like that will cause significant drops in your traffic that have little to do with the quality of your marketing. They’re something to be aware of, but so long as your traffic recovers in an appropriate time, nothing to worry about.

There may also be seasonal drops. Many people find that they get less traffic from Pinterest in summer as a general rule.

A drop in traffic may be cause for concern if you don’t know why it happened. Take some time and find out what has changed so you can figure out how to fix it. Maybe you’ve been doing a little less pinning, or maybe your site is getting less traffic overall, leading to fewer pins. It’s good to know that you have to look, so you can figure out the problem.

Profile

The Profile section of your Pinterest analytics allows you to examine how your pins are performing. You can see how your top pins and boards are performing.

It’s a huge help being able to see which pins are getting clicks or being saved by other pinners. These are the actions you want to see. Lots of impressions are nice but only mean so much if you don’t get clicks and saves to go with them.

You can also check out your all time best performing pins.

These stats will not be limited to pins from your site. This can be frustrating when that’s what you’re most interested in, but also helpful. You might get ideas for topics you need to cover. Clearly your followers like that content – now make it your own and make it better! No copying, and give credit where credit is due.

People You Reach

The People you reach section gives you a little information about the number of people. It’s in the process of being replaced by the Audience Insights report, which is far more useful.

Website

The Website section allows you to see activity from your website on Pinterest. For example, you can see how often people have used the Pin It button on your website (you do have that, don’t you??).

This can be very similar to the information you get in the Profile section, but you will see data only for pins for your site. If there are a lot of other pins showing up in your Profile’s data, this will clear things up for you.

Audience Insights

As of this writing, Audience Insights is not in full release but looks great.

You can see the categories and interests of your audience and their affinity for various interests. I can see a lot of potential for this in terms of deciding what to blog about, and from there what to pin.

You’ll also learn about the demographics of your audience, where they’re from, and the kinds of devices they use to visit Pinterest. This is a lot more information than was available previously, and you should make the most of it. You can even learn about what the Pinterest audience as a whole is interested in.

Make The Most Of Pinterest Scheduling Tools

If you’re serious about using Pinterest for business, you should at least consider using Pinterest scheduling tools. There are people who prefer manual pinning methods as well, but I prefer scheduling, and I can tell you why.

Simply put, scheduling means even when life throws a great big obstacle in your way, your pins keep getting posted.

I’ve been dealing with a horrifyingly huge problem in my life. My father died.

That’s awful for just about anyone, but this case was complicated. I won’t go into too many details, as we’re hoping for legal action on the scam he fell for that completely messed up his finances, but suffice to say the whole thing has been a mess, and I’ve learned things about my father I wouldn’t want to know about anyone. And the finances weren’t even the worst mess we had to deal with.

I’ve lost many days of work time dealing with this situation, as have my sisters. But because I’m using Hootsuite to schedule my pins, they’re still being posted. All I had to do was keep up with reciprocating on the group boards.

Hootsuite has a fairly adequate Pinterest scheduling tool. I think it could be better. But it’s there and I use Hootsuite anyhow, so that’s what I have right now.

What I like about scheduling with Hootsuite, however, is that it’s easy to vary both the images and what you say for each pin. Pinterest is developing a preference for a greater variety of images per blog post and unique descriptions for pins, rather than recycling the same thing over and over. The way the Hootsuite scheduler works, it’s not that hard to switch things up regularly.

My next plan is to start using Tailwind as well. Most pinners who schedule love Tailwind, so far as I can tell. I’ve been too busy to give it a proper chance, but once things get better, I’ll test it as well. I understand its scheduling tool is far more powerful, which sounds great.

When you’re serious about using Pinterest to market your blog, you need the consistency that a scheduling tool can offer. Handling the entire thing manually takes a lot of time out of your day that could be better used elsewhere.

If you want to learn to make the most of Pinterest, don’t forget to consider taking a Pinterest course. Learning how to make the most of Pinterest is much easier if you get advice from someone who has gotten great, consistent results.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated June 11th, 2018

Which Social Media Sites Should You Be Marketing On?

Which Social Media Sites Should You Be Marketing On?

There are a lot of social media websites out there. You could spend hours each day on marketing on them, but which social media sites will give you the best results?

That depends on you and your target market.

Social media websites will rarely do you any good at all if you don’t put some effort into it. If you just sign up and drop your link in, you probably aren’t going to see much benefit from any of them. Occasionally,  a business will have some success on a social media site they weren’t even trying for because visitors keep sharing them, but that’s an exception, not the rule.

Which Social Media Sites Have The Right Demographics?

Every social media site attracts a somewhat different demographic, and this is what you need to look at as you figure out which social media sites to use. I’ve pulled some demographic information from Pew Research Center to get you started, but you may decide to look deeper.

To make the most of this information, of course, you need to know what your target market is. How old are they? What gender? What are their interests?

social media sites

YouTube

YouTube is huge. You may think of it as a video sharing site, but it has its social media side too. 73% of American adults use YouTube. 94% of 18- to 24-year-olds use it, making it a great option if you’re seeking a younger audience.

In other words, video is huge. If you can add video to your marketing mix, you have the chance to reach a lot of people.

Facebook

Facebook is the other big one. 68% of American adults use Facebook. It’s widely used by most demographics, although people are frustrated with Facebook’s privacy issues.

Snapchat

If you’re looking at a younger audience, 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat. That’s a lot. Snapchat offers ways for businesses to advertise on their platform. Snapchat can be extremely effective for advertisers, offering twice the visual attention of Facebook, beating out Instagram and YouTube as well.

You can use Snapchat to build your business free as well, of course. You have to understand the limitations of the platform and tell interesting stories to attract followers.

Twitter

Twitter attracts only 24% of American adults but jumps up to 45% of 18- to 24-year-olds. They increased the maximum tweet length to 280 characters a while ago, which is a huge help to marketers.

Pinterest

Many bloggers love Pinterest. The visual style is highly appealing, and for the right business, the demographics are great. It only gets 29% of American adults overall, but 41% of women. Pinterest is particularly popular for crafting and recipe websites, but many other niches do well there.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great choice if you’re targeting college graduates in a professional capacity. 50% of Americans with a college degree use LinkedIn, but only 9% with a high school diploma or less. LinkedIn is very much focused on professional networking, so it’s probably not a good choice if your business doesn’t relate to that. B2B can do well on LinkedIn.

Instagram

Instagram presents special challenges to marketers, as you cannot put live links in your updates. You can have one in your profile, but that’s it. Still, Instagram attracts 35% of American adults and 71% of 18- to 24-year-olds. Some marketers do very well with Instagram.

You can view more details of the demographics from the Pew report through this link.

Where’s Your Target Market?

Demographic information is only helpful if you know enough about your target demographics. They aren’t always what you think they are.

If you know your competition, you can take a bit of a shortcut and see which social media sites they’re having success with. Take a look at their social media buttons. Many sites show how many shares they’ve received on individual posts and pages as a form of social proof.  This can help you decide where you want to focus your efforts as well.

Visit their social media pages as well, especially for social media sites such as Instagram, where you can’t otherwise see how well they’re doing.

Using this data from your competition is not the only thing you should do, of course. It’s just a starting place. You can experiment with other social media. You might find a place to focus where your competition is not.

Seek out references to your best keywords on the different social media sites. Don’t do this by just typing your keywords into a search box. Learn how to use hashtags to search them and see how often your keywords are used that way. Take a look at the content you find this way and the accounts it’s attached to. This can give you both inspiration and people to follow on those sites.

How Do You Use Social Media?

How you use a particular social media site depends on which one you’re using. What works well for one may not be the best way to build a network on another.

How often you should post on which social media sites varies tremendously. Some do poorly if you post more than once or twice a day, while others need frequent posts if you’re to do well at all. I’ve pulled data from this Coschedule post on how often to share on social media. I also looked at when social media users are most active through SproutSocial. The best times may vary somewhat by niche as well as by social media site. Don’t forget to consider the time zones of your target market when posting.

dream big

On any social media site, being overly promotional is not a good idea. People aren’t there to have things sold to them. They’re networking because they enjoy it, to build their own business, to get good information, that kind of thing. If you do nothing but say “buy, buy, buy,” they’ll unfriend you as fast as they can.

Instead, give quality information to bring people to you. If you sound like an expert and they need what you have to offer, they’ll decide to do business with you.

One thing that is valued by most social media sites is consistency. Don’t keep changing your post frequency. Your fans and followers will come to expect a certain number of posts per day from you, even if it’s more than the usual for that platform.

Most social media platforms love hashtags. They help people find your content. Even Pinterest likes hashtags now.

While you can learn some things just by reading online about the social networks you prefer, you will probably get faster results if you take an in-depth course. Sign up for one only if you have the time to put what you learn into practice. There is absolutely no point in paying for something and then never using it. A good course will help you avoid making too many mistakes with your social media.

These are, of course, affiliate links to the courses, but they are ones I consider to be good choices and have good reviews.

YouTube

The key to YouTube starts with making great videos, but that’s not where it ends. Your videos must be discovered by viewers, or it all means nothing. You need to learn how the YouTube search algorithm works and which techniques will bring your videos to the first page of YouTube so that they’re seen by potential viewers.

Course recommended: A Million Subs In A Year: YouTube Marketing and YouTube SEO

Facebook

You have so many options to market your business on Facebook. Starting a Facebook Page for your business is a must, but many businesses find starting a Facebook Group is even more powerful.

Most people suggest posting on your Facebook business page no more than twice a day, with once a day being ideal. This is especially true for promotional posts. If you’re being social and fun, you can probably get away with more, but be extremely careful that you do not post excessively or your reach will decrease and your fans will view your posts as spammy.

Businesses on Facebook often complain about how algorithm changes make it hard to reach their fans without paying for ads. It’s a legitimate problem. Facebook changes their algorithm often, and that can be a real headache. Paying for ads can be well worth it, however, once you know what you’re doing.

In general, you want to post on Facebook on weekdays from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with Wednesdays and Thursdays performing best. Saturdays, evenings and early mornings have the least engagement.

Course recommended: Facebook Ads & Facebook Marketing MASTERY

Snapchat

I have not used Snapchat myself, and know very little about it. Hubspot recommends posting a Story only once or twice per week on Snapchat. Then spread your Snaps out through the day. You should also consider that not everyone has the sound turned on when they use Snapchat, so including text in your Stories is very helpful.

Course recommended: The Complete Snapchat Marketing Course

Twitter

Twitter is one of those places you can post a lot. 15 times a day is recommended, with several retweets of someone else’s content. Some recommend up to 50 or more tweets a day. Tweets disappear quickly as new tweets appear, giving each tweet a short lifespan if no one retweets it.

Don’t batch all your tweets into a short time frame, of course. Spread them out. Twitter does best on weekdays, with Fridays being the best around 9-10 a.m. Mornings are better than the afternoon in general, and weekends don’t do as well, with some exceptions.

Twitter has recently become more picky about the reuse of content. It used to be that you could use a scheduler to post the same tweet over and over again for as long as you liked. These days, Twitter views that as spam.

They prefer that you either rewrite the tweet in a new way each time you share a link to the same site or retweet your original tweet. Twitter is looking for more original content. This makes using schedulers such as HootSuite more difficult but not impossible. You just have to put a little more time into your individual tweets.

Course recommended: Twitter Marketing: 2 Minutes A Day To 10k Twitter Followers

Pinterest

Pinterest marketing can be a lot of fun, so long as you don’t fall for the time sink. Give it half a chance and you’ll probably find an interesting recipe or something to catch your eye.

There are a few key things you must do on Pinterest. The first is to create some keyword rich boards for the content you’ll pin from your own site. Make sure you add them to an appropriate category and give them a good description. You will want to follow relevant pinners and build up your own following.

Make sure your create your account as a business account to make the most of Pinterest. This will give you access to analytics and the ability to make your pins into rich pins.

Joining group boards on Pinterest is an excellent way to get your pins out to a wider audience, but be picky. Niche boards are usually far more powerful than “pin anything” boards, even if the “pin anything” board has a larger following. Pinterest prefers to see your pins categorized properly.

Pin a lot. Recommendations run from about 15-30 a day according to the Coschedule post, but I’ve seen many pinners swear by a higher number.

Recently, Pinterest has stated a preference for a variety of descriptions on pins. This makes scheduling more difficult, as tools such as Tailwind allow you to quickly schedule a bunch of identical pins. You have to do extra work to vary things. Make sure you create multiple pinnable images for each post. You never know which will take off best until you test them. Vertical images with a 2:3 ratio do best.

Pinterest currently gives priority to the first five pins you do each day, starting at midnight UTC. Pinterest activity peaks at about 9 p.m.

If you want to know when your best time to pin is, use Tailwind. Tailwind’s SmartSchedule will post pins at the time that is best for your industry, and by when it sees that you get the most engagement.

Course recommended: Pinterest Marketing: Using Pinterest for Business Growth

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is another of those sites that does not tolerate a lot of posting from businesses. Posting once a day is plenty.

If you want to do more, join LinkedIn groups and interact with people there. Be careful how promotional you get. You need to be seen as a quality resource. Be the trusted professional you want to be seen as, not the person who’s only interested in the next sale.

LinkedIn engagement is better Tuesday-Thursday, with Wednesdays from 3-5 p.m. being the best.

Course recommended: Linkedin Marketing: B2B Sales & Lead Generation From Scratch

Instagram

Even with its disadvantages, I know a lot of marketers love what they can do with Instagram. You should only post once or twice a day on Instagram, although a few people report doing well with more, even 10 times a day. Be careful about how often you post, and see what works for your audience.

Being heavily promotional is not likely to work on Instagram. As always, provide value. You can use Instagram to give a little behind the scenes look at your business as well as to promote.

Weekdays do better than weekends on Instagram, and you should post first thing in the morning. Later posts can do well going into the afternoon.

Course recommended: Instagram Marketing 2018: A Step-By-Step to 10,000 Followers

How Many to Use?

You can’t do a good job of using all social media websites, not even if you only stick to the big ones. There’s too much to do.

You’ll be better off if you can pick a couple to focus on. Get good at marketing on them.

Dividing your efforts dilutes them. There’s a balance between being available on a variety of networks and being unable to keep up.

As with any other sort of marketing you haven’t tried before, start by using just one social media site. Figure out what you’re doing. Get some fans, friends, followers, whatever they’re called. Get comfortable.

Even though each site takes a slightly different approach, you can take some of what you learn from each site and apply it to the next one while continuing with the sites you’re already on. You’re learning how to bring in business with a possibly more personal touch than other forms of marketing may have been for you.

Social media marketing isn’t something that comes naturally for everyone, but it’s a big help for bringing in traffic and business if you use it right. Give yourself some time and really pay attention to the learning process. You might find it a lot of fun as well as profitable.

Should You Automate?

Within reason, automation of your social media efforts is a great idea. It’s too hard to keep up otherwise.

I use HootSuite to automate many of my posts. It works with Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. Its Pinterest tools are not as powerful as what Tailwind has to offer, so you may want a subscription to that as well.

What you cannot automate is the social side of social media. You need to interact with people appropriately, retweeting interesting tweets, for example, or replying to comments. Spending a few minutes on social media is a great way to handle those parts of your day when you know you have limited time to get something done.

You also need to be aware of current events when you automate. If a big event happens, make sure you don’t have any inappropriate posts going out at that time. A reference that is perfectly innocent at other times may be taken as offensive if something has gone wrong.

Do not try to automate your following of other users. Take some time to find them.

I also do not recommend using software to follow and then unfollow anyone who doesn’t follow you back. I know many bloggers worry about their following/followers ratio, but it’s really not that big of a deal in most ways. Follow people because you want to see what they post. Many social media sites now see a high rate of following and quick unfollowing as a sign of spam.

How Long Does It Take To Know Which Social Media Sites Work?

We all want fast results with social media. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? But that’s often not the way things go.

Social media results take time, just like anything else. Don’t compare yourself to the people who have tens of thousands of followers. Most of those have been at it for years.

Work on improving what you’re doing instead. You can get ideas for what works by watching the people who are successful at social media, but in the end, it’s up to you to stand out. If you’re nothing but a copycat, you’ll never stand out.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.