Ellen Cline, writer
Creative communication that markets, informs, and entertains

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Social Media is Doggone Hard Work

Author: ; Published: Mar 23, 2013; Category: Business Writing; Tags: , , , , , ; No Comments

Social Media Marketing for Dummies book cover

The name of the chapter highlighting International Assistance Dog Week (IADW) in the newest edition of Social Media Marketing All-in-One for Dummies is telling the truth: “Social Media is Doggone Hard Work.”

IADW is an annual event each August that I help promote. I was pleased to be recognized in the book, along with IADW founder, Marcie Davis, for the work that we do to honor assistance dogs.

The Social Media Marketing “All-in-One” has nine “books,” and IADW is in Book 9, Chapter 1. IADW is used as an example of integrating various tools, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Alerts, and Google Analytics, in addition to more traditional PR and marketing efforts.

When you’re promoting an annual event with a limited budget, use of social media can make a big difference. The main investment is time, rather than money, but of course even time is valuable, so you’re paying one way or another. 

One reason Facebook and other social media work so well for IADW is that it’s an international event. Social media gives us a way to reach an audience in many different countries, now more than 20, who all have a common interest in assistance dogs.

Read the Social Media book pages featuring IADW in a .pdf file.  You can also find out more about the Social media book or order a copy.

To learn more about assistance dogs and International Assistance Dog Week, please visit the International Assistance Dog website

Or check out the IADW Facebook page and see how many more likes we have since the screenshots for the book were taken.


Is Chicago style better online?

Author: ; Published: Mar 11, 2013; Category: Business Writing, Communications Tools, Editing and Proofing; Tags: , , , ; No Comments

Chicago Manual of Style book cover

If you’ve read my previous blog post about style guides, you know I prefer The Chicago Manual of Style to the Associated Press Stylebook.

I finally signed up for an online subscription to Chicago and am really finding it useful. Rather than buy a new hardcover version of Chicago to get the 16th edition, I chose to purchase an online subscription instead. 

Although I still do love using paper books, I spend most of my time working at the computer, as I have for years. So searching the online version for reference, is quick and convenient.  And there are some added features. 

Using the online version, you can search the 15th or 16th edition. Select which you want before entering words into the search bar. As an alternative, you can use the table of contents, drilling down through each chapter to see more detail. If you’ve always liked searching the paper manual through its index, you can still do that online as well.

In addition to the book, you can also search the Q&A section of the website. Although Chicago is pretty thorough, there are situations that come up that may not be covered in the manual, and peoples’ questions and the experts’ answers can be applicable to a similar situation you’re facing.

Another nice feature: You can create a style sheet for a particular client or project. Yes, it’s just a little text editor that pops up, but at least all the exceptions to Chicago you’re using will be in one place, right there with the manual.

I also like the bookmark feature. Of course you can bookmark a paper book, as I do, but after there are a million little sticky notes and scraps of paper hanging out, it gets a bit unwieldy. To bookmark the online Chicago, you just click the flag icon.

The online  subscription version also lets you create your own annotations on any item. Say you want to note on 6.45, commas with dates, that you want to follow the ISO style for dates (9.37). You can do that with the little pop up text editor by clicking on the pencil icon.

I haven’t been using the online Chicago for very long yet, but so far I’m happy with it. Is anyone else using this handy tool? If so, what do you think about it?

Social Media Tips To Save Your Sanity

Author: ; Published: Jun 20, 2012; Category: Business Writing, Communications Tools; Tags: , , , ; No Comments

Social media is driving the sun crazy

“Social Media Sanity: Choosing Social Media Channels for Your Business” was the title of a webinar I attended.  Well, I can relate to that: Social Media can drive people crazy.

Social media can take a lot of time so it’s important to know if the time being spent is worthwhile.  Everyone says your business has to be on social media, but for small businesses, it can be tough to manage along with other tasks.

Presented by the author of Web Marketing for Dummies, Jan Zimmerman, the webinar gave pros and cons of social media and reviewed the main channels, but also talked about other tools and how to manage your social media presence.

The pros of social media?  It’s free (well, except for your time), it improves your search engine optimization, and billions of people use it every day.  It helps you get more people to be aware of your brand; helps drive traffic to your website, and build relationships.

The cons? You can’t just get on Facebook and call it a day. You still need a website and other media channels. And it takes time. As Zimmerman said, “it’s your money or your life,” so you either do it yourself or pay someone else to do it. There’s a lot out there competing for people’s attention so you need to be on your Facebook or other social channels regularly and have a strategy.

What are you trying to achieve?  Is your goal to find new leads or customers?  To drive people to your website? Conduct research? Instill loyalty?  Share information?

Zimmerman advises you to do one channel well before adding more. If you have objectives, you can quantify them and see if your work is paying off.  Just like any marketing, you can see if you have achieved your goals, reached your target audience, and gotten them to take the action you want.

Depending on your goals, the type of social media you engage in will vary.  Facebook, for example, may or may not be the place for your organization or business. You can look at demographics and see if the audience they reach is yours. There are newer channels like GooglePlus with its circles and +1 ratings, “microblogs” like Twitter, professional social networks like LinkedIn. And what about ads on social media sites, are they worth it? There’s a lot to consider and learn about. 

In this presentation Zimmerman touched on just some of what is in the book: information on more specialized, stratified social media sites; social bookmarking and sharing sites that let people share your content; opinion sites, where people review your products/services; social media tools which let you combine all your social media activities in one place and post to more than one site at a time– HootSuite is one such tool; and social networking policies—does your organization have one? 

There was a ton of information covered in this webinar, which really only focused on how social media relates to web marketing. The book, “Web Marketing for Dummies,” which is now on its 3rd edition, teaches you a lot more about websites, e-commerce, mobile marketing, SEO, and much more.

Just this brief glimpse the webinar provided into one part of the book tells me that it’s packed with practical advice and will be a great reference. Want a taste?  Here’s a “cheat sheet” Dummies.com offers for Web Marketing for Dummies.