The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It

Today’s post is from Hootsuite’s blog. I answer a lot of questions on Facebook’s Pixels – how to insert them, what to do with the information, etc. This article explains Facebook Pixels very clearly. Enjoy and be sure to visit Hootsuite’s blog for more educational content!


If you’re using Facebook ads—or you plan to use them in the future—there’s one key tool you should start using right away to get the most out of your social ad budget: the Facebook pixel.

What is a Facebook pixel?

A Facebook pixel is code that you place on your website. It helps you track conversions from Facebook ads, optimize ads based on collected data, build targeted audiences for future ads, and remarket to qualified leads—people who have already taken some kind of action on your website.

It works by placing and triggering cookies to track users as they interact with your website and your Facebook ads.


Bonus: Download a free guide that teaches you how to turn Facebook traffic into sales in four simple steps using Hootsuite.

Benefits of using a Facebook pixel

There are several ways you can use data collected from Facebook pixel tracking to refine your Facebook advertising strategy.

Track conversions

The Facebook pixel allows you to monitor how people interact with your website after viewing your Facebook ad.

You can even track customers across their devices so you know, for example, if people tend to see your ads on mobile but switch to a desktop before making a purchase—or maybe it’s the other way around. This information can help you refine your ad strategy and calculate your return on investment.


Pixel tracking data allows you to show targeted ads to people who have already visited your site. You can choose to get really granular here—for example, you can show people an ad for the exact product that they abandoned in a shopping cart or added to a wishlist on your website.

This capability is why you should create a Facebook pixel now, even if you’re not using Facebook ads yet—so you have retargeting capabilities from your very first Facebook ad.

Create lookalike audiences

Facebook can use its targeting data to help you build a lookalike audience of people who have similar likes, interests, and demographics to people who are already interacting with your website, helping you expand your potential customer base.

Run effective ads

Using a Facebook pixel can make your ads more effective by improving the quality of the ads you run, and by improving the targeting of the people who see them.

In addition to improving your ads based on tracking their effectiveness, you can use Facebook pixel data to ensure your ads are seen by the people who are most likely to take your desired action.

For some examples of companies using the Facebook pixel effectively, check out our post 5 Surprising Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Ads.

How to use a Facebook pixel

You can use Facebook pixel tracking to collect data on two different kinds of events: a set of nine standard events that Facebook has predefined, or custom conversions that you set up yourself. An “event” is simply a specified action that a visitor takes on your website.

Standard events

The nine standard Facebook pixel events for which you can simply copy and paste standard Facebook event code are:

View content: Someone lands on a page on your website.
Search: Someone uses the search function to look for something on your site.
Add to cart: Someone adds a product to their shopping cart on your site.
Add to wishlist: Someone adds a product to a wishlist on your site.
Initiate checkout: Someone starts the checkout process to buy something from your site.
Add payment info: Someone enters their payment information in the purchase process on your website.
Make purchase: Someone completes a purchase on your website.
Lead: Someone signs up for a trial or otherwise identifies themselves as a lead on your site.
Complete registration: Someone completes a registration form on your site, such as for a subscription product.

Custom conversions

You can use custom conversion events in place of standard events, or to collect more details than Facebook pixel standard events can provide.

Custom conversions use URL rules based on specific URLS or URL keywords. So, for example, you could use Facebook pixel tracking to record views of a specific category of merchandise on your website, instead of tracking views of all content using the “view content” standard event—perhaps to separate dog owners from cat owners based on which sections of your pet supply website they viewed.

Before you can use Facebook pixel custom conversions, you’ll need to help Facebook understand the details of the conversion event you want to track. To do so, head to your Facebook Ads Manager, then go to Custom Conversions and click Create Custom Conversion to define your custom conversion event using URL rules.

You can also create Facebook pixel custom events by adding more details to standard events using additional bits of code called parameters. These allow you to customize the standard events based on:

How much a conversion event is worth
Product name, category, or ID
The number of items someone adds to their shopping cart
A specific search string
The status of a registration

How to create a Facebook pixel and add it your website

Now that you know what you can track, and why you would want to do so, it’s time to create your pixel and put it to work on your website.

Step 1: Create your pixel

1. From your Facebook Ads Manager, click the hamburger icon (≡) and choose Pixels.

The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It | Hootsuite Blog

2. Click Create a Pixel.

The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It | Hootsuite Blog

3. Name your pixel, accept the terms, and click Next. When choosing the pixel’s name, keep in mind that you only get one pixel for each ad account, so the name should represent your business, rather than a specific campaign.

The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It | Hootsuite Blog

Step 2: Add the pixel code to your website

To put the pixel to work gathering information on your website, you now need to install some code on your webpages. There are two ways to do this depending on the tools you have incorporated into your website. We’ll use the copy-and-paste method here. The other option is to use an integration or tag manager.

1. Click Copy and Paste the Code.

The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It | Hootsuite Blog

2. Copy and paste the pixel base code into the header code of your website—that is, post it after the tag but before the tag. You need to paste it into every single page, or into your template if you’re using one. When you’re finished, click Next.

The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It | Hootsuite Blog

The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It | Hootsuite Blog

3. Copy the appropriate event code based on the actions you want to track on your website. For custom conversion code, click Custom Event. This Facebook help article can help you figure out which type of setup is best for you: basic, recommended, or advanced.

The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It | Hootsuite Blog

4. Paste the event code in the appropriate location on your webpage based on the action you want to track. It should go just below the tag for a new page that opens as a result of the tracked action (like a thank you page). Or, you can attach the code to specific HTML elements like buttons that trigger actions within a page. When you’re done, click Next.

The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It | Hootsuite Blog

Step 3: Confirm your Facebook pixel is working

Before you start relying on the data from your Facebook pixel, you should confirm that it’s working properly.

1. Download the Facebook Pixel Helper extension for Google Chrome.

2. Visit the page where you have installed the Facebook pixel. If the extension finds the pixel, the icon will turn blue, and a popup will indicate how many pixels are found on the page. The popup will also tell you if your pixel is working properly. If not, it will provide error information so you can make corrections.

The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It | Hootsuite Blog

Image via Facebook for Developers.

Note: The current Facebook pixel combines two older pixel versions: the conversion tracking pixel and custom audience pixel. Facebook discontinued the conversion tracking pixel on February 17, 2017. If you were using the Facebook conversion pixel, you’ll need to switch over to the new Facebook pixel. You can learn how to do so in this Facebook business help article. If you were using the old custom audience pixel, these instructions for Facebook pixels explain how to upgrade to the new version.

Get the most out of your Facebook ad budget with AdEspresso by Hootsuite or Hootsuite Ads. Both are powerful options that make it easy to create, manage, and optimize campaigns.

Learn More

The post The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.


Source: The Facebook Pixel: What It Is and How to Use It

Should Authors Do It All?

What’s better? To be a jack of all trades or to specialize in a particular skill? Naturally, there are arguments for either choice depending upon the circumstance. Let’s say you’re an athlete and have suffered torn cartilage in your knee; you’ll want to consult with an orthopedic surgeon.

After all, they’re experts at what they do. So why is it as authors, we don’t seek out experts?

Why do so many of us try to do it all?

Assuming that the writing is in place, let’s examine all of the jobs or tasks that are required to bring a book to market.

Publishing Requires Juggling —

Cover Art
Digital and Paperback Formatting
ISBN Registration
Synopsis Writing
Keyword and Category Research
Distribution / File Uploading
Marketing and Public Relations
Social Media

Phew…what a list! Considering that today’s reader has an abundance of choices available to them, it makes sense to give your audience what they crave….more books! Many authors have learned that one of the secrets to building a loyal fanbase is to release their books in rapid
succession. Some debate the pros and cons of doing this with a series versus a standalone novel.

Regardless of which choice, series or standalone, how do you keep up with your writing if you’re busy with so many tasks? And if you are taking on all of these responsibilities, are you doing each one justice? Whether we’re talking about graphics or formatting, there is a definite skill involved in each.

Let’s examine three of these tasks in greater details — cover art, formatting, and social media
— and analyze what makes for a superior job versus one that is somewhat mediocre as a result of not focusing on only that task.

Can you judge a book by its cover?

We’ve all seen them…the book covers that stand out from the rest and not in a good way.

Considering that now there are numerous contests for book cover art that can benefit the writer as well as the artist by bringing attention to your book, you don’t want to attempt cover art on your own for the sake of saving money.

Especially considering that many cover artists create what’s known as “pre-made covers” that can provide immense cost savings. These are covers that aren’t created to your specifications but rather, fit a typical genre such as romance or thriller. Writers will see one of these covers (often times as low as $30 and typically not higher than $75) and use their great imagination to actually pen a scene into their novel that suits the cover image, thereby making it appropriate to their book.

Functional Formatting is Key for Reader Enjoyment —

Many new authors do not realize that proper book formatting requires knowledge of specific softwares that can generate a file format that is accepted by the ebook retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes and more. Furthermore, Amazon won’t accept the same format as the rest. They want what is known in the industry as a “mobi” file whereas the other ebook retailers will accept an “epub” file. As you can see, simply uploading a Word document from your computer won’t cut it, even if you think it’s beautiful with fancy fonts littered throughout your text.

Professional formatting will save the author time because you won’t receive error messages from the ebook store sites. Imagine if you did receive an error message. Would you know where in your entire book to find the problem? And, if you did find it, would you know how to correct it?

For this reason, as well as the aesthetic quality that a professionally formatted book can bring to the reader, it’s important to choose a professional book formatter.

In my opinion, professional book formatting should serve three functions: saving the author time, bringing aesthetics and beauty to your words, and providing a level of technical functionality.

Clever book formatting will include numerous benefits to the reader experience. Here’s just a few things that can be added to your ebook with formatting:

Hyperlinks within the text to outbound URLs
Author social media links
Link to Amazon’s listing of the book whereby a reader can leave a review
Social Media…Fun and Games or Serious Business?

Let’s face it, social media can be fun. Why wouldn’t you want to spend time on Facebook chatting to readers, tweeting messages on Twitter to other authors, or posting pictures of your
adorable pets on Instagram? Because quite simply, social media is a time sucker and if you’re
serious about your writing, you need to limit your time online. However, there’s no denying that if you want to sell your books, you need to be visible and have a proven author platform.


How do you do both? As authors, how do we find the time to write our books and use social media? In a word: balance! I write extensively about how to live a creative and balanced life.

It’s a subject I feel strongly about because we all wear many hats. In no particular order, I’m an author, a wife, a mother, a book packager, and a ghostwriter. Trust me, I understand busy. But I also have learned when to back off and ask for help. In terms of social media, I think it’s a great idea to learn a few key lessons from social media strategists and then experiment with how much of this task you can do yourself and still maintain a regular writing schedule and your sanity.


As to answer my initial question, should authors do it all? I think it’s wise to educate yourself.

Know how much a cover will cost. Research the different formatting fees. Spend time on social
media and see if your tactics are converting to sales. Once you educate yourself, it’s easier to hire an expert because you understand what their job is and you’ve developed realistic expectations.

If you have questions about anything publishing related, I’d love to chat.

Facebook to Change News Feed to Focus on Friends and Family: Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Are you looking for more information on Facebook – what’s new? This article should keep you going with new ideas for a while! Enjoy!

Source: Facebook to Change News Feed to Focus on Friends and Family: Here’s Everything You Need to Know

The goal of Facebook’s News Feed is to show people the stories that are most relevant to them. That’s no small task when you have over 1.65 billion people to keep happy and over 1,500 stories per day to prioritize for each of those individual users. Now, Facebook has announced one of their most significant News Feed shuffles.

On Wednesday, Facebook shared that the News Feed algorithm is going to shift so that it will more favorably promote content posted by the friends and family of users.

These changes are likely to mean that content posted by brands and publishers will show up less prominently in News Feeds. In the announcement, the company explained their priority is keeping you connected to the people, places and things you want to be connected to — starting with the people you are friends with on Facebook.

Back in April 2015, Facebook made a similar algorithm update trying to ensure that stories posted directly by the friends you care about will be higher up in News Feed, so you are less likely to miss them. But based on feedback, Facebook understands that people are still worried about missing important updates from the friends.

This update is likely to affect all types of content posted by brands and publishers, including links, videos, live videos and photos. Facebook said it anticipates that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for many Pages who’s traffic comes directly through Page posts.

The update will have less of an impact, however, if a lot of your referral traffic is the result of people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it. Links or Page content shared by friends or content your friends interact with frequently will still appear higher in the feed.

For example, the post from my personal Facebook account (on the right below) would be more likely to appear above the post from Buffer’s Page (on the left) in the News Feed:


What do users expect from the News Feed?

Facebook’s success is built on getting people the stories that matter to them most.

To help make sure you don’t miss the friends and family posts you are likely to care about, Facebook try to put those posts toward the top of your News Feed. The News Feed learns and adapts over time based on the content you interact with the most, too. For example, if you tend to like photos from your sister, they’ll start putting her posts closer to the top of your feed so you won’t miss what she posted while you were away.

Facebook research has also shown that, after friends and family, people have two other strong expectations when they come to News Feed:

The News Feed should inform. People expect the stories in their feed to be meaningful to them — and we have learned over time that people value stories that they consider informative. Something that one person finds informative or interesting may be different from what another person finds informative or interesting — this could be a post about a current event, a story about your favorite celebrity, a piece of local news, or a recipe. Facebook’s algorithm is always trying to better understand what is interesting and informative to you personally, so those stories appear higher up in your feed.
The News Feed should entertain. Facebook also found that people enjoy their feeds as a source of entertainment. For some people, that’s following a celebrity or athlete; for others,  it’s watching Live videos and sharing funny photos with their friends. Again, the company’s News Feed algorithm tries to understand and predict what posts on Facebook you find entertaining to make sure you don’t miss out on those.

The makeup of a successful social network (and why this update is essential for Facebook)

Despite its venture into publishing and partnerships with large news and entertainment brands, at its heart, Facebook is still a place for friends. And without solidifying our connections with those closest to us, Facebook could face struggles to keep its 1.65 billion monthly active users coming back.

To understand the inner-workings of social networks and what makes us keep using them, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology studied networks like Friendster and Myspace with the goal of figuring out what factors can be detrimental to a social network.

As explained over at Wired:

They found that when the time and effort (the costs) associated with being a member of a social network outweigh the benefits, then a decline in users becomes likely. If one person leaves, their friends become more likely to leave and as more people leave, this can lead to a cascading collapse in membership.

Networks like Friendster and Myspace were the Facebook of their day. Both had tens, and eventually hundreds, of millions of registered users, but what the study found is that the bonds between users weren’t particularly strong. Many users had very few close connections, and it appears there’s a direct correlation between how connected we feel to our friends and family and our affiliation with each network.

If Facebook users are worried about missing important updates from the people they care about most, then their affiliation with the network could begin to decline as they find other ways to stay connected. And once user begins to leave, or become un-engaged, it could have a waterfall effect on the network. David Garcia, a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, explains:

“First the users in the outer cores start to leave, lowering the benefits of inner cores, cascading through the network towards the core users, and thus unraveling.”

You can see how a social network unravels in the below graphic (Friendster is used in the image):

For Facebook, the News Feed is the most integral part of their product to make us feel connected with those we care about. And as such, it’s important for Facebook to keep the content we want to see the most at the top of the feed.

How will this update impact business Pages?

The changes will affect all types of content posted by Pages, including links, videos, live videos and photos.

In their “News Feed Values” shared alongside this announcement, Facebook made it clear that content from friends and family will come first. And the company also highlighted the importance of authentic communication and being inclusive of all perspectives and view points without favoring specific kinds of sources — or ideas.

We expect that this update may cause organic post reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages. The impact will vary for every page and will greatly depend on the composition of your audience or the way in which your content is shared on Facebook. For example, if a lot of your referral traffic is the result of people sharing your content and their friends liking and commenting on it, there will be less of an impact than if the majority of your traffic comes directly through Page posts.

As with all Facebook algorithm updates, it may take a little time to determine exactly what will continue to work and how to increase organic reach (though Facebook feels like it’s shifting more towards a pay-to-play market for businesses). 

One tactic that could become increasingly important is the amplification of brand content. With Facebook favoring content shared by users rather than Pages, it feels essential to find new and innovative ways to encourage your audience to share your content directly to Facebook. Ensuring your content is discoverable away for the Facebook News Feed could be another key play as well.

It also feels important to keep a focus on what people are looking for from the News Feed. As mentioned earlier, aside from friends and family, Facebook users turn to the News Feed to be informed and entertained. With those goals in mind, it’s worth thinking about how the content you create for Facebook can satisfy those desires.

Over to you

In their announcement, Facebook says their work is “only 1 percent finished” so it feels like there are plenty more twists and turns ahead for the News Feed.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this update and how it may affect the way you use Facebook and the types of content your share? Please feel free to leave a comment below and I’m excited to continue the conversation with you. 

How Will an Author Platform Make You a More Successful Author?

Another great article by Rachel Thompson! Author platform – topics that authors need to pay attention to. Enjoy!

How Will an Author Platform Make You a More Successful Author?, Rachel Thompson, BadRedhead Media, @BadRedheadMedia
(This post is for those in need of understanding book marketing. We’re not here to discuss the craft and art of writing, which is another subject entirely, and something, I would hope, each author has spent many hours on already.)

Every day I hear prickly, sometimes even angry authors, discussing the evils of book marketing:

“Blogging is a waste of time. I could be writing.” 

“Social media doesn’t result in sales, so forget it. Not worth it.” 

“Author platform is just a dumb term some bean dip in a suit made up. Next year they’ll call it something else.” 

Oh, dear. Let’s deconstruct.

Author Platform Defined

Many writers run kicking and screaming from the term author platform, but they need to get over it. If you have any hope of marketing your books — er, selling your books — you need to understand that selling books is a business. Art is commerce. You are part of the machine that you are so vehemently protesting.

Irony, huh?

Simplified, think of your platform as a big wheel. To make the wheel turn, you have to place the spokes. Everything we are going to discuss today is a spoke.

Further defined:

Your platform consists of how visible you are, your authority on a particular topic(s), proven reach, and knowing your demographic (Source: Jane Friedman). Most authors I work with have or know maybe one of these. Do your homework.

According to Bowker data (2013), over 1,000 books are released every day (if you have updated data, please pass it along). That’s about 400,000 books each year.

How do you plan to stand out if ‘writing is all that matters?’

Branding, platform, marketing, advertising — all those crazy ‘buzzwords’ — don’t sound so crazy when you are faced with the herculean task of trying to get someone to notice you, your book, and actually you know, sell your book.

Smart Work, Hard Work 

I’ve released four books (award-winning, bestselling) in the last five years (slow by some people’s standards but hey, I’m a busy girl, what with running a business, being a mom, and writing my next two books). I can tell you that getting all four of my books to #1 best seller status on Amazon didn’t come from magical fairies sprinkling bestseller dust over me while I write or sleep (I miss sleep).

It happened because I made it happen. I work hard and smart to build relationships with readers, authors, publishing and industry folks, book bloggers, and reviewers. I don’t sit back eating bonbons while the fairies dance around me, making the magic happen. How do I do it?

Author Platform Secrets 

My secret? It’s not a secret because I blather on constantly about building relationships. You’re probably sick of it by now, but it’s so true. How do I build relationships? Let’s look at Jane’s definition above and break it down.

Demographic: I share lots of interesting content (other than ‘buy my book!’ because dear god, if that’s all I knew how to write, why on earth would anyone buy my book at all?), articles, other people’s posts and articles, quotes, pictures, videos, and yes, the occasional promotional giveaway or sale, all having to do with what my demographic is interested in because I targeted specific people with similar interests.

I do the same for my clients. We share their own blog posts of course, but also articles about their topics of interest, and interact/follow people with similar interests.

Visibility: I’m very visible: I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram — social media is best used for building relationships, not for blasting ‘buy my book!’ links. I blog weekly (on both my author blog and my business blog), I guest blog, I write for Huffington Post,,, I pay for low-cost ads, I do occasional blog tours and book promos. If you google RachelintheOC, BadRedhead Media, or Author Rachel Thompson, you’ll find me.

I rarely discuss my books other than to share visual quotes or teasers; rather I focus on sharing real-life stories, others’ stories, and meaningful articles and information. Being ‘other-focused’ and generous is like catching flies with honey.

Social Media: At the very least, you want to be on Twitter, have a Google+ brand page, and a Facebook author page. Why Google+? While most people have written it off, Google hasn’t, and they index every update. In terms of SEO, Google+ ranks much higher than Facebook pages, hands down. (Twitter and Google have an agreement as well, so Twitter updates are also indexed.)

YouTube (note: owned by Google), Instagram, Pinterest and SnapChat are the next tier and terrific visual channels. StumbleUpon, Medium, Reddit are great aggregators as well.

Where are you spending your time? If you’re like most authors, you’re on your personal Facebook whining about book sales. I suggest rethinking that strategy.

Authority: This one seems to be trickier, but it’s really not. Everyone is good at something or knows a particular topic intimately. That’s not usually the issue. The issue is giving ourselves permission to be an expert on what we know, what we’re good at, and share that information in a way that initiates discussion. I use my almost two decades from soul-sucking Big Pharma to help me in my current business. We all come from somewhere.

Share what you enjoy, what you are good at, even your struggles. Be authentically you. People respond to that.

Proven Reach: Your branding, author platform, social media, SEO-optimized website, and consistent blog posting is the best way to build a readership and fan base. It’s also how you will connect to book bloggers and reviewers, yet I hear from many writers how they’re too busy to interact with readers online.

Let me get this straight: you want readers to find you, but you don’t want to interact with them. You just want to write.

You want a traditional contract because you think everything will be done for you (not) — I have traditionally published clients right now who hire me to do their social media because their publishing company doesn’t do any of it.

Here’s the bottom line: publishing companies will look at your manuscript to see if you can write, of course, but they will also look at your ability to bring in readers. Publishing is about making money. Are you a sure thing?

That’s how I eventually got an agent and signed to a publishing company. They will check your social media numbers, website visits and comments, and how you interact with people. They want to see your brand, how well you market, and if you can prove that you have reach.

How can you have that, if you don’t have that? 

Author Platform – A Basic List

  • Active and interactive social media (Twitter; Facebook — both a personal account to connect not sell, and an author page; Google+ brand page, and either Pinterest or Instagram; and, depending on your demographic, LinkedIn or Snapchat)
  • StumbleUpon and Medium
  • A fully SEO-optimized website and blog
  • Blogging consistently (minimum once-weekly)
  • Minimum 25 reviews of your book (debatable; some say helpful, others say this number is BS. I say, how can it hurt?)
  • Blog tour (debatable, but helpful for visibility; not so much for book sales)
  • Awards and/or writing contest wins
  • Guest articles, interviews, blogging
  • Writing for publications
  • Advertising
  • Subscriber list and email newsletters
  • Promotions, contests, giveaways
  • and, most importantly, building long-term relationships with influencers and readers!

Don’t forget the face-to-face interactions as well (more of a PR tactic which as a businessperson, I don’t focus on; but as a writer, I do):

  • Signings
  • Conferences (aka, cons)
  • Library events
  • Bookstore events
  • Speaking opportunities

Bottom line: your author platform is what it takes for you to market your books. Will it guarantee sales? No. There are so many other factors: pricing, promotions, fan base, timing, competition, reviews (we haven’t even discussed that yet!), and so much more. But it’s absolutely the foundation to get you rolling.

Have patience, be realistic, have a plan, and work that plan!


Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a post again! I will never share your email and that’s a promise. Follow me on Twitter @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia for social media, branding, or marketing help. Increase your blog traffic by participating in #MondayBlogs (a Twitter meme I created to share posts on Mondays — no book promo)

All content © 2016 by BadRedhead Media aka Rachel Thompson, author, unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.



Source: How Will an Author Platform Make You a More Successful Author?

How to Curate Content: The Secret Sauce to Getting Noticed, Becoming an Influencer, and Having Fun Online

Regarding questions I get all the time – excellent read!!

How great is the Internet! One of the most impactful, viral, influential services you can perform online is to read stuff and tell people what you like.

It’s true!

If you’re looking for a competitive edge, a way to establish your authority, a way to get more followers, one of the best, proven paths to online success is content curation.

It’s both as simple and as difficult as finding great content and sharing it with your audience. The difficult part is that there is a lot that goes into a world class content curation strategy. Where do you look for content? How do you find the best stuff? How do you find the time to find the best stuff? And then of course, what do you do with it all once you find it?

These are fantastic questions, and they’re just the type of challenges we’d love to help you solve. We’ve partnered with the folks at Pocket, who’re a huge part of our curation process, to share our research and lessons with you about how to build a remarkable (and remarkably effective) content curation strategy.

We’ll be talking a lot about great curation tools in this post. Our two must-haves are Pocket for reading and Buffer for sharing. Feel free to grab a forever-free subscription from each. We’ll be mentioning them a lot below. 🙂

The Ultimate Guideto Content Curation

What we hope you’ll learn in this post

Content curation is a favorite topic among us on the Buffer team, and we’re so happy to have a chance to share our best tips with you. To make it easier to find the parts of this resource that are most helpful, here’s a look at all we’ll cover.

Click to jump to any section:

The one-a-day formula for great content curation
Content curation tools
Where to find great content
Advantages of being really good at content curation
Who does it well: Curation heroes
Curation automation

The one-a-day formula for great content curation

Successful curation can be split into these three areas:


How to Curate Content (1)

From a high level, those three elements are all you need to master in order to get really good at content curation. Exciting, right? That’s not too much to ask! Of course, the really great content curators know that a detailed, comprehensive, strategic approach to each of those three steps is really what sets apart great curation from the rest.

I’d love to share how to get this comprehensive, strategic approach for yourself.

Let’s start by looking at a sample curation day (it just so happens to be my day), and all the different detail that goes into the Discover-Read-Share formula.

Discover Read Share


Check your newsletters for interesting stories. Add to Pocket.
Check Feedly for interesting stories. Add to Pocket.
Check Twitter for interesting stories. View by list and hashtag. Add to Pocket.
Check Facebook for interesting stories. Add to Pocket.
Check aggregation sites like, Growth Hackers, Hacker News, Panda, Digg, etc. Add anything interesting and relevant to Pocket.


Read everything in Pocket
Mark shareworthy content as “favorite”


Favorite content is automatically added to Buffer via an IFTTT recipe
Browse the Buffer feed to adjust titles, images, hashtags, and mentions.
Schedule or share

Total time (once you get in a good flow): 1 to 2 hours each day.

As you may know, reading articles online can take far more than one to two hours per day. It can take all day! (And what glorious days those are.)

However, there are very few of us who are able to curate content full-time for a living. We’re likely curating as a guilty pleasure, while the other demands of the job beckon us. So it’s vital to be ruthlessly efficient with your curation strategy.


Here are some tips for each of the three key parts to a daily content curation workflow.

Tips on how to discover content, fast

Curate from curators – newsletters, communities, etc.
Have a list of 25 (maximum!) go-to content sources
Follow interesting people and make it easy to see what they share
Give new content sources a probationary period

Seventy-five percent of any curation strategy is discovery.

In fact, you should be spending 95 percent of your time in discovery and reading; only 5 percent should be spend on sharing. (More below on how to make this a reality.)

content curation percentages

With discovery being the bulk of the curation process, it’s okay if it feels like it’s taking more time than it should. Give yourself the time and space to discover. This is where the true content curation all-stars shine: They find the stories that no one else is finding. They guard their secret sources like family jewels and are always willing to spend the extra few minutes diving deeper into a rabbit hole in hopes that a new wonderland is in there.

1. Curate from curators – newsletters, communities, etc.

One of the biggest hidden secrets of curation superstars: They curate from curators. They subscribe to newsletters full of hand-picked links from peers and neighbors. They browse communities where stories are gathered and upvoted — crowdsourced curation, more or less. If you’re in the marketing space, newsletters like Teachable’s MakeChange and sites like are curation gold.

Here’re a few interesting places to look if you might be keen to find curators in your niche (more on these places below):

Pocket’s Recommended feature (easily accesible from within the Pocket app)
Curated’s featured publications
Letterlist’s list of newsletters
Panda’s integrations

Curating from curators helps to build a good base of discoverable content.

Then you have to go a bit deeper.

You have to have your own go-to places to find content that few others have found. These are your go-to sites — maybe an unknown blog, or a low-traffic section of a major news site. For instance, I adore the writing on Post Planner, and I love reading the New York Times’s tech blog. (Whoops, there go my secrets.)

To discover places like these, it helps to keep an open mind for curation when clicking through newsletter links or community upvotes. Do the sites themselves seem to resonate with what you’re wanting to find? Here are some questions to ask:

How often do they publish new content? (or, how old is the article I’m reading now?)
If I like this author, does she contribute often, or is this a guest post?
How well is the article formatted? (This hints at a certain level of content quality.)
How well is the site designed?

And then of course, once you find these hidden spots, make it easy to visit them daily.

The bookmarks hack: This one’s a bit old school but super lo-fi and simple. Once you’ve found a handful of go-to content sources, star them all with a bookmark in your browser, and organize them into a folder. Then each day, start your curation by going to your bookmarks, right-clicking the folder, and opening all the sites at once. It’ll look like this:


2. Have a list of 25 (maximum!) go-to content sources

While you’re building out your Top 25, make sure to keep it at no more than 25. Yes, there may be more than 25 great sites out there, but remember that your ultimate goal with discover is finding the best, original stuff — and your secondary goal is speed and efficiency.

If you have more than 25 sites, you’ll be too busy filtering and hunting. Besides, if your list is more than 25, chances are they aren’t all sites that are original to your discovery. Other curators are probably curating them, in which case you can curate those curators.

Feedly, an awesome RSS tool we’ll cover more below, is where I keep track of my list of sites to follow. Currently I follow 25 total blogs on writing and marketing.

Marketing blogs to follow

3. Follow interesting people and make it easy to see what they share

Along with unique sites, it helps to follow unique people. Take Matt Navarra of The Next Web, for instance. Here is a sampling of recent tweets. The man is a cornucopia of fascination:

Twitter now lets you use any emoji in your account name or bio 😎👌💥

— Matt Navarra  (@MattNavarra) August 24, 2016

YouTube may soon be a social network with text, image posts

— Matt Navarra  (@MattNavarra) August 25, 2016

Twitter’s new Message button lets people DM you from your site

— Matt Navarra  (@MattNavarra) August 25, 2016

There are unique people like this in almost every industry (Matt just so happens to be in social media) — and if there aren’t, then wow what a great opportunity for you to be the first!

One way to find them is with a hashtag search. If you have a particular keyword or two that is central to your brand or area of expertise, look for people sharing content with that keyword. Sort by most followers if you can.

Another way to do it is to see who is sharing the articles that you think are pretty great. If someone else has found your secret best stuff, then they probably are a good one to follow. To do this …

Enter a URL into BuzzSumo
Click the “View Sharers” button next to the article’s title on the results page
Voila! See who has shared this content

(Viewing sharers is a BuzzSumo Pro feature that you can try out for free with a trial.)

And if all else fails, you can try following people with a similar job title or from particular companies you admire or compete with. This’ll make sure that you’re staying on top of the stories that are relevant to people like you.

Of course, following all these folks is one thing. Being able to see their content in the stream of all content is another. You can do the bookmark hack and travel directly to their feeds every day (not a bad idea). You can try a tool like Nuzzel, which emails you a digest of what your Twitter friends and Facebook friends have shared the past 24 hours (ranked by virality).

Nuzzel screenshot

Or you can make yourself a second profile.

The fake profile hack: Create a new profile for yourself on Facebook or Twitter by entering a new email address. If you’re a Gmail user, you can create a new email from scratch by adding “+” to your current email (e.g., [email protected]). Then follow your interesting folks from this fake account, and log in with the fake account in a separate Chrome profile for easy switching.

Switch person Chrome

4. Give new content sources a probationary period

As you come across new websites and publications, definitely feel free to add them to your repertoire — eventually. In my experience, I’ve found that a site might look promising for a day or two, though it takes at least two weeks before you can know for sure if it deserves to be a place you visit every day.

Likewise, it’s beneficial to be quick to cut any sites that aren’t quite passing muster for you lately, too.

Your time is valuable! Being a great curator means staying cutting edge with where you look and how long you look there.

Tips on how to read content, fast

Get a read-it-later app (like Pocket)
Stop reading as soon as you know if it’s a yes or no
If it doesn’t hold your attention, it won’t hold your reader’s
It’s okay to skim, within reason
Sometimes images make the best text

Good news is, the hard part (discovery) is behind you. Now you get to read!

1. Get a read-it-later app (like Pocket)

First things first. One of the toughest things you can do when it comes to curating content fast is to read every article on the site itself. You need a read-it-later app.

This plays into the concept of batching.

Batching (or batch processing) is the act of grouping similar tasks together that require similar resources. Doing so streamlines the process and helps you get more done, faster.

It’s a concept you might be familiar with from Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Workweek or articles like this: How Batch Processing Made Me 10x More Productive. It’s a popular lifehacking and productivity tip, for sure! And it works great with curation.

Batch the tasks that require similar resources.

Do all your content discovery at the same time, while your brain is in the hunting mentality.
Do all your reading at the same time, while your brain is feeling reflective and choosy.

And in order to read in a batch, you need to have a tool that lets you save the articles you find in order to read them later.

I use Pocket for this. It has a neat card layout to quickly see everything I’ve saved. It strips out all the extra sidebars, styles, and ads so that you’re just reading what the author wrote and intended. And it has a wonderful browser extension that lets me save new articles to Pocket with one click from any page on the web.

The extension hack: Bonus! If you’re using the Pocket browser extension on Twitter, you can add any tweeted link straight to Pocket. Just below the link blurb is a row of icons, one of which is for Pocket. If you click this, the article is added automatically, and it even includes the tweet text from the original share.


2. Stop reading as soon as you know if it’s a yes or no

Now that all your content is flowing in through Pocket or another read-it-later app, you can start the process of reading. And apologies if I seem to be mentioning ruthlessness a lot in this article. You’ll want to be pretty ruthless here, too.

As soon as you know if it’s a yes or a no, you must stop and go onto the next one.

Here are some reasons why it can be a yes:

A really great article! 🎉🎉🎉🎉

An amazing image or graphic 👍👍👍

A fantastic quote 😍😍

An interesting statistic 🍔

Here are some reasons why it can be a no: Everything else.

3. If it doesn’t hold your attention, it won’t hold your reader’s

If you find your attention faltering, stop reading. You are likely the most invested person in the world in this article. If it can’t hold your attention, it won’t hold the attention of a far less invested reader!

If you realize it’s not as actionable or interesting as you thought, stop reading.

If you’ve read something similar elsewhere, stop reading.

In general terms, these are some factors that make for a really great, curate-worthy article:

It’s unique
It’s interesting
It’s useful

(These go by the vowel-heavy initialism UIU.)

The faster you can find U, I, or U, the better off you’ll be with your speed of curation.

4. It’s okay to skim, within reason

First and foremost, read every article. Only in emergencies, skim read.

Sometimes, you might find yourself really rooting for an article to succeed. And you just really want to get to the good stuff. Well, awesome – there is a time for skimming, and this might very well be it.

Of course, skimming comes with its risks. What if you skim over an offensive or inaccurate portion of an article, then choose to endorse it unwittingly? It’s not a great feeling (spoken from experience). One way to work around this hazard is to excerpt only the portions that you’ve read. For instance, you might say:

Great post! Loved this section on growth hacking in particular.
Wonderful line from this blog post: ““The reason that most of us are unhappy most of the time is that we set our goals not for the person we’re going to be when we reach them, but we set our goals for the person we are when we set them.”

This way, you’re only vouching for the parts that you did in fact read.

5. Sometimes images make the best text

Similarly, while skimming, it’s possible that a picture might catch your eye, rather than the text itself.

This is perfectly fine.

If you’re in the business of curating unique, interesting, and useful stuff, it matters little whether it’s sensational text or sensational images.

And as a bonus, skimming for great images is a breeze. Some read-it-later apps strip out the images from within the body of articles; Pocket grabs the article’s main image and uses it as a thumbnail on the post. Otherwise, you may be able to spot a great image well before you save to Pocket, during the discovery phase of curation.

Tips on how to share content, fast

Get a social media scheduling app (like Buffer)
Set up an automation workflow
Invest in a good email solution

Like I mentioned above, the sharing of curated content needs to take only five percent of your overall curation workflow. If you spend an hour-and-a-half on curation, you can do all the sharing in as little as five minutes.

1. Get a social media scheduling app (like Buffer)

It starts with a solid foundation: a social media management dashboard. These are great for managing multiple social accounts on multiple channels, all in the same place. For instance, we use Buffer to manage our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+ accounts, plus the accounts of our individual profiles (like, in my case, all my Kevan Lee profiles).

What’s more, social media dashboards like Buffer also come with scheduling.

This is uber-important for a curator especially.

Picture this, you’ve just gone through the discovery and reading phases of curation, and you have 15 cool articles to share. What do you do with those 15?

You can share them all at once as a burst, which has been scientifically proven to lose you followers.

You can space them out over the course of the day by manually sharing one every 45 minutes (which has been qualitatively proven to be a pain).

Or, you can add them all at once to Buffer, and Buffer will send them for you at the pre-appointed schedule you’ve set. 💎

Here’s a video that explains the calendar feature within Buffer:

2. Set up an automation workflow

To make this even more powerful, you can set up automation workflows that allow for the bulk scheduling to happen seamlessly. I’ll get into lots more detail below about how this particular automation can happen.

Basically, you can use a tool like IFTTT or Zapier to connect your favorite read-it-later app like Pocket to your favorite social publishing tool like Buffer. Then, whenever you take a particular action while you’re reading — say, marking something as “favorite” — IFTTT or Zapier will tell Buffer to do a particular something else — say, add to your sharing queue.

In addition, there are some neat, native integrations with content tools like Pocket and Feedly and sharing tools like Buffer. For instance, from Pocket’s web app, you can share any article directly to Buffer. (The same can happen on mobile, with Buffer’s share extension turned on.)

Pocket share to Buffer

3. Invest in a good email solution

Similarly, if your curation strategy relies more on email for spreading your content, there are some awesome automation tools to help with email. There’s the IFTTT and Zapier automation flows for capturing favorite links, and there are even standalone tools that allow you to build an email newsletter as you read.

Speaking of tools, let’s get to know a few.

The content curation tools behind great newsletters, roundups, and lists

Great curation can vary widely, from the most manual of processes (copy-paste to spreadsheets) to the most automated (tool-connected tools). We lean a bit toward the tools side at Buffer, particularly when it comes to working as smart as possible.

These are the tools we use personally or can recommend highly. Hope you spot one or two that might work for you also.

1. Buffer –

Social media scheduling, publishing, and analytics

buffer extension for content curation

Price: Free

Buffer is the key to our fast-sharing curation. We’re able to go in from Day One and set a custom schedule, based on when our tweets and posts tend to get the most engagement (Buffer tells you this; thanks, Buffer!). Then this schedule stays for as long as we like: All we need to do is fill a queue with the curated content that we find, and everything else takes care of itself.

The browser extension makes it easy to add content from anywhere, too. Just click the Buffer button on any page, or press Option+B, to open the Buffer window.

The Twitter scraper hack: It’s not a hack, really. It’s more of a feature! If you’re sharing an article to Twitter, Buffer will grab all the images on the page and suggest them as possible images to add to your tweet. It works from the dashboard, too. Say you want to edit some posts that were added via automation. Click to edit the tweet, type a space at the end, and all the images pop up.


Other options:

Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Sprinklr


2. Pocket –

Read-it-later app with social content

pocket for read it later curated stories

Price: Free

This is the reading app for online content. What we do is save everything we find to Pocket and then set aside time to read it all. Each post is stripped of all superfluous design so we can concentrate on just the words. And it’s super easy to share from Pocket with its many social social features and integrations.

You can even Recommend items with others on Pocket, and cross-post to Twitter and Facebook at the same time. Recommendations on Pocket will appear on your Pocket profile and in your followers’ feeds when they’re looking for great content to read, like and repost.

If you’re ever strapped for time (or doing other tasks), Pocket will even read the articles to you. Yup! You read that right!

Other options:



3. Feedly –

Robust RSS reader with content discovery


Price: Free

Feedly is the heir to Google Reader, and it’s improved the RSS formula in some neat ways. You can 1) search Feedly for topics to find the content you want to subscribe to. You can 2) integrate Feedly with other apps in order to make it easy to send stories to places like Pocket or Buffer. You can even do cool things like publicize your feed collections and check the virality of content based on its shares (great for curating in a pinch).

The viral Feedly hack: If you’re strapped for time, you can quickly spot the most viral stories in your Feedly by switching to Index view (via the Preferences link in the sidebar), then hunting for the biggest share numbers. These numbers appear just before the headline. Numbers in the hundreds and orange numbers (trending) are great.


Other options:

Digg Reader, The Old Reader, Flipboard


4. Nuzzel –

See what your friends are sharing on social media


Price: Free

Nuzzel searches the feeds of your friends on Facebook and Twitter to find the content that they’re sharing. Everything gets ranked, then emailed to you once a day so you’re always in the loop. The top three stories make up the start of the email, then Nuzzel goes the extra mile with a Friends of Friends section with even more content. And if you’re wanting to go beyond the email, you can click through to the site to see everything that was shared that day.

The Nuzzel hack: You probably follow a lot of people, right? And not everyone may be the most relevant to the topic you’re curating. What we’ve done is to set up a fake Twitter account, follow just the people whom you want to monitor, then sync Nuzzel with this account. Bingo! All your Nuzzel recommendations are hyper-targeted to just these folks who curate great stuff.

Other options:



5. Goodbits –

Ready-made email newsletters from the content you discover


Price: Free

Goodbits removes the middleman/woman/spreadsheet from the flow of collecting great content and emailing links to great content. With Goodbits, you simply collect the content using their browser extension, and all the content is placed automatically into a pretty email that you can send to your subscribers. Goodbits integrates with popular email platforms like MailChimp and Campaign Monitor, and you can tie in RSS feeds directly to the Goodbits interface so you don’t even have to go looking for the content.

Other options:


6. TinyLetter –

Straightforward newsletter building and sending

TinyLetter for email curation and newsletters

Price: free

One of the absolutely minimal ways for sending a newsletter is with TinyLetter. It’s completely no-frills, which means no barriers for entry. With TinyLetter, you get a straightforward landing page to collect emails and a clean and simple interface for writing your newsletter. And that’s it! There are some simple stats, but beyond that, all there is to do is write, send, repeat.

Other options:

Campaign Monitor, MailChimp


7. Letterlist –

A list of the best, curated newsletters out there


Price: free

Remember the tip to curated from fellow curators? Well Letterlist collects the best curators for you. From the Letterlist website, you can subscribe to dozens of great newsletters.

It’s a curated list of curated newsletters, in order to help you curate.


Here are some more ideas of where you might find great content to curate …

Where to find great content: 17 vetted sources

Like we’ve talked about, the most important job of a high-quality curator is finding fantastic content. We’re lucky — there’s a lot of it out there!

Here are a few of our favorite places to look, both specifically (the sites themselves) and generally (the bigger-picture places). It’s important for me to remember that not everyone will be wishing to curate content based on startups, productivity, social media, or writing. Hopefully seeing some of our process might trigger some ideas for your particular industry.

1. Newsletters

I get a ton of value from the newsletters I subscribe to, both for the curation help they provide me and for just learning lots of interesting things. We’ve covered a list of over 60 favorite newsletters before. Definitely start there if you’re looking for a comprehensive list.

60+ Fantastic Email Newsletters to Read and Share

These are a few of the go-to ones I use currently:

Caitlin Dewey
Ann Friedman
Inside’s Daily Brief

SmartBrief also has a list of over 200 newsletters, segmented by industry. You might find something up your alley there.

The newsletter search hack: If you’re unsure where to find a newsletter based on your particular topic, try a Google search. Er, try a very specific Google search. Search “ YOUR SEARCH TERM” to discover TinyLetter lists that might be relevant for you. Here’s an example. Since all TinyLetter newsletters are archived, you’re able to search the full archives of all newsletters with this search.

Newsletter search hack

2. Community aggregators

These are sites that are collecting content on their own and upvoting it so you can see what’s new and great.

Hacker News
Growth Hackers
Product Hunt

3. Reddit

I thought about including this one in the list above for communities, but no, Reddit deserves a category all its own!

There are more than half-a-million subreddits, which are niche communities focused on a particular topic. These are basically community aggregators for anything you could imagine. Here are a few favorites:

Data Is Beautiful
Mechanical GIFs
TIL – Today I Learned
Listen to This

(The Daily Dot ranks over 200 subreddits here.)

4. Content products

Another outcome of our content-heavy Internet is that there are entire products built for helping you find content. Thank you! These sites might either have algorithms that go out and source great stuff, or they have humans curate what they find to be worthy of a wider audience. Either way, these products are great for curation.


Pocket’s Recommended Stories
Digg Deeper
Medium’s Editor’s Picks
Content discovery tools on Zeef

For even more content discovery ideas, we’ve put together some favorite lists here:

17 Unique Places to Find Great Content to Share

Advantages of being really good at content curation: Why people curate

By this point, you’ve likely got a good sense of what it takes to be really, really good at curation. And you might be wondering …

Why would someone go to these lengths?

Well first off, a lot of people enjoy it. Reading on the web is a wonderful leisure activity for many, so it must feel like such a gift to be able to build a following around what you’d be doing anyway.

That said, there are some specific brand advantages to being really, really good at curation. Whether you intend for these things to happen or not, they simply come with the territory of curating greatly. And if you do wish for any of the following to happen to your brand, then curation is the way to go!

1. Build authority

Awhile back, I made a purposeful decision to adjust my social media content and newsletter to focus on writing and social media. (I had to let go of the notion of building authority on my previous tweet fodder like football, soda pop, and Calvin and Hobbes comics.)

The result?

A jump in followers.

An increase in subscribers.

And, were there a way to measure these sorts of things, I imagine I also got a bump in authority.

When you choose to find, share, and comment on the best of the best articles in your industry, you will gain authority. If you do it consistently, you’ll build authority. People will look to you to see what’s happening and what’s worth discussing. It’s quite a special place to be, and one that I’m still working to achieve.

Once there, you have quite the platform for speaking and sharing on a topic.

The Pocket authority hack: One of the fastest ways to gain authority is to be a consistent part of a new network or community. There just so happens to be one within the Pocket app, as you can recommend your favorite Pocket stories and create a following within the Pocket ecosystem. To really make yourself stand out in the feed, you can share quotables by highlighting any text in an article and clicking the Share Excerpt popup.

Pocket Recommended stories

2. Gain influence

Along with building authority, curation also allows you to gain influence. We’re in a fortunate place at Buffer to have a pretty solid foundation of content and social sharing. As such, we get a lot of people reaching out to us to share this or that particular story.

They’d love for us to share because they feel we can influence others to click, share, read, etc.

You’ll find the same once you get in a solid groove with curation. Once people see that you curate great content, they’ll love to be considered along with the other great content you share.

3. Spread goodwill

With that influence comes the ability to honor others with a mention or share.

Curating content is one of the most generous things you can do online.

It’s a virtual high-five or tip jar, a Pay-It-Forward moment for whoever has the chance to catch your eye with a great article. What a good feeling! This one might not make the most immediate business impact, but it does help build relationships and engender positivity with others in your industry. Those relationships are key in the long run.

Who does it well: Curation heroes

We’ve taken a lot of inspiration from a number of folks in the startup space and content industry, people who do a sensational job of always having great stuff to share. It’s a good practice to curate from curators and also to learn from them.

Does anyone come to mind for you?

It can be as simple as noticing who in your social media feeds you tend to read most often, or which of your friends you most admire when they share new stuff. In one way, it’s a bit like venture capital; investor Ben Lerer has an interesting investment strategy: jealousy. He says:

investment quote

Similarly, to find your curation heroes, you might check yourself for any moment you say, “Boy, I wish I had shared that.”

Here’s a list of a few heroes of ours at Buffer. Whether or not they match your industry or interests exactly, I hope you’ll be able to pick up a few trends or take some inspiration from the way they curate and share. A few things you might notice from this list:

Many have been going at it for 5 to 10 years (Jason Kottke, Daring Fireball, Maria Popova)
A few are senior-level executives or entrepreneurs (Rand Fishkin, Hiten Shah)
Some are marketers like you and me (Courtney)

Translation: You can be yourself and still be fantastic with content curation.

Here’s the short list of curators I look up to.

1. Rand Fishkin, Moz founder

Hadn’t been to Collector’s Weekly before, but impressed w/ their content marketing efforts, e.g.

— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) August 26, 2016

Rand built the SEO company Moz, and he remains its chief evangelist through his videos, content, speaking, and curation. His Twitter feed is a goldmine of SEO and marketing tips and other interesting finds.

We had the privilege of having Rand on one of our upcoming Buffer podcast episodes. He shared a bit of his curation strategy with us along with these three takeaways for blending content, curation, and values:

Everyone does best when they have a process and a set of guidelines.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that content is a short-term investment with a short-term payoff. It is absolutely not.
When you are developing your values and committing to them, you need to also be aware that you’re going to have to need to go out and find like-minded people and a like-minded community that believe in those same values.

2. Hiten Shah, Crazy Egg & KISSmetrics founder, Quick Sprout co-founder

The Hype—and Hope—of Artificial Intelligence

— Hiten Shah (@hnshah) August 26, 2016

Hiten is one of the smartest marketers out there and one of the most accomplished SaaS entrepreneurs and founders. His Twitter feed reflects his varied interests: lots of marketing, lots of tech, lots of innovative ideas, lots of, well, good stuff!

(Full disclosure: Hiten is one of our advisors at Buffer. We love him!)

3. Brain Pickings, curated by Maria Popova

One of the best sites out there for book lovers and inspiration seekers, Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings covers all sorts of different types of literature and dives deep into the topics and authors. Her curation is almost one of self-curation: She’s built up such a library that each new blog post is chock full of links to past ones. It’s making these connections from book to book and article to article where Maria really shines — and where she reveals a great opportunity for fellow curators.

4., curated by Jason Kottke


Jason Kottke’s website began 18 years ago and has evolved to cover art, media, and people doing awesome things. Jason shares five to ten interesting links per day on his site: stories, video, lists, news. He’s cornered the market on “huh, interesting” content, which is a great example for those feeling a bit too tied to one particular subject. As long as you have the market cornered on a feeling, that works too!

5. Daring Fireball, curated by John Gruber

Along with Jason Kottke, John Gruber was another of the original curators, starting Daring Fireball over a decade ago. The blog focuses on Apple technology and really blossomed in the heyday of iPhones and iPads.

John was recently a guest on the ReCode podcast where he shared behind-the-scenes about getting started with the blog and how he views the value that his curation and analysis brings to the Apple conversation.

6. Courtney Seiter, Buffer

The Only Technique To Learn Something New

— Courtney Seiter (@courtneyseiter) August 22, 2016

A couple years ago, Courtney led our content suggestions feature, and she singlehandedly curated 30+ unique pieces of content for every day of the week. It was the most prolific stretch of curation I’d ever witnessed — and people loved it. The content suggestions feature didn’t continue on, but Courtney’s work with curation was hugely instrumental toward delighting customers and teaching our marketing team what great content looked like (and how we could get there).

Bonus lesson of curation: You learn to recognize what’s good!

Next level content curation, feat. automation workflows

If you’ve read this far, thank you! There’s been a lot to digest, and hopefully it’s been encouraging to see what you can accomplish with great curation. Now the final steps are the ones that put curation into the advanced category and help you save even more time.


Automated curation is your best time-saver. The more you can automate with your workflows, the more time you’ll save.

How do you automate? It all starts with tools like IFTTT and Zapier, apps that connect one service to another, triggering actions based on other actions. For instance, you can automatically add a new row to a spreadsheet every time you send a tweet.

Here’s a quick link to get started at IFTTT, which is completely free.

Here’s a quick link to get started at Zapier, which gives you the first five automations free then charges beyond that (Zapier has a great deal more services than IFTTT at the moment, which kind of balances things out).

Of course, there are many parts of curation that you can’t automate. You can’t automate good judgment or a strong eye toward quality or interestingness. You can’t automate the whole discovery phase of curation or, obviously, any of the reading part.

The most ground to be gained in automation will be with the sharing part of curation.

These are our favorite curation automations at Buffer.

Pocket to Buffer IFTTT

Send your Pocket favorites straight to Buffer and schedule with an image


This one is pure gold for me. Every article I like in Pocket goes straight to Buffer, without me needing to a thing.

Once it’s in Buffer, I schedule time once a week to go through my backlog and prettify any of the updates that are in there — changing around the headlines or adding images. Here’s an example of one that Pocket/IFTTT/Buffer pulled in for me (before I changed a thing):

buffer tweet

Alternative: You can also set up this IFTTT recipe to work with Pocket tags. If you have a tag like “Buffer” or “Social Media”, everything article you tag in this way will go straight to your Buffer queue in a single click.

Pocket Trello IFTTT

Send your Pocket favorites to Trello


For a monthly newsletter, this Trello/Pocket combination comes in really handy. You can ask IFTTT or Zapier to create a new Trello card for you each time you favorite a story in Pocket. This way, when you’re ready to write your curated newsletter, you can simply pull all the links straight from your Trello board.

I use this one for my personal site and keep the links alongside my other blog notes and to-dos.

Curate Feedly to Email


For those who love as much of their curation as possible to happen in email, this recipe makes it possible to bring Feedly in there. All your Feedly content is sent as an email digest where you can choose what to read or skip.

Your turn: Let us know how your curation goes!

Thanks again to the Pocket team for the assist with this article. If the strategies here sounded worthwhile to you, we’d love to make it easy for you to start a free Pocket account or get all set up on Buffer!

Phew! Thanks for hanging with us the whole way. I hope the info here has been helpful for you and has maybe even inspired a content curation strategy that you’ll be excited to try.

If you’re curating content, mind sharing with us where we can follow along?

It’d be great to see what you’re finding!

And if you have any tips for us on what’s been working for you, or if you have any questions about anything we’ve mentioned here, feel free to drop a mention in the comments. I’ll be hanging out there and would love to chat!

Happy curating!

Image sources: UnSplash

Source: How to Curate Content: The Secret Sauce to Getting Noticed, Becoming an Influencer, and Having Fun Online

Longer Tweets Are Coming: All You Need to Know About Twitter’s 140 Character Update

Do you struggle a bit with Twitter? There are significant changes coming – I hope you enjoy this article on the changes that you likely already see and how to use them! 

Twitter is about to make a big change to the way tweets work.

From today, it’s reported that Twitter is cutting back on what types of content will use up its 140-character limit.

It’s expected that @names in replies, media attachments (like photos, GIFs, videos, and polls) and quoted Tweets will no longer be counted against the valuable 140 characters that make up a tweet. This allows for richer public conversations that are easier to follow on Twitter and ensures people can attach media to tweets without sacrificing the characters they have to express themselves.

Twitter first announced this update back in May but didn’t quite confirm a date when these changes would reach Twitter’s 300m+ users. However, The Verge has now confirmed it’s expected these updates could be launched today (September 19th).

Editor’s note: At the time of publishing, these updates aren’t live. We’ll add a note here when they’re publicly available to all Twitter users 🙂


What’s changing? Full details on Twitter’s 140 character update

This update has been much anticipated by many Twitter users and on their blog, Twitter shared the full details of what’s changing:

Replies: When replying to a Tweet, @names will no longer count toward the 140-character count. This will make having conversations on Twitter easier and more straightforward, no more penny-pinching your words to ensure they reach the whole group.
Media attachments: When you add attachments like photos, GIFs, videos, polls, or Quote Tweets, that media will no longer count as characters within your Tweet. More room for words!
Retweet and Quote Tweet yourself: We’ll be enabling the Retweet button on your own Tweets, so you can easily Retweet or Quote Tweet yourself when you want to share a new reflection or feel like a really good one went unnoticed.
Goodbye, .@: These changes will help simplify the rules around Tweets that start with a username. New Tweets that begin with a username will reach all your followers. (That means you’ll no longer have to use the ”.@” convention, which people currently use to broadcast Tweets broadly.) If you want a reply to be seen by all your followers, you will be able to Retweet it to signal that you intend for it to be viewed more broadly.


How will ‘new’ tweets be displayed

The diagram below, shared by Twitter on their dev blog, shows the high-level change to Tweets:


This diagram shows that when displayed to users, @mentions, URLs and media will all appear outside of the tweet itself, leaving a full 140 characters to play with when composing the text for your tweet.

Also, when a tweet is posted in reply to another account, the name will be displayed in a format similar to below graphic, giving the feel of a threaded conversation (when a Tweet is in reply to multiple people, the name of the person whom the author is directly replying to should be prioritized):


5 Ways to Make Full Use of Twitter’s 140 Characters

1. Provide more context in replies

One huge benefit of this update is the fact that user @names will no longer count against your 140 characters. Now, whenever you start a tweet in reply to another user, you still have room to say everything you wanted to in your tweet, without having to consider the length of their Twitter handle.

This opens up more space to provide additional details that previously may have taken a couple of tweets. For example, if you’re responding to a customer service question, you could share your reply in 140 characters, but also add a GIF saying “Thanks for reaching out” or a screencast video to further explain how to fix their support issue.

2. Utilize visuals more often

Visuals are a great way to stand out on Twitter. Studies have shown that visual and media attachments on tweets are a big factor in boosting engagement and retweets. One study by Twitter found that photos average a 35% boost in Retweets and videos get a 28% boost:

However, until now, it’s been tricky to convey the message you’d like in your tweet text and also include a media attachment in 140 characters.

When these changes are rolled out, Twitter users will be able to utilize the full 140 characters to share their copy and still include media, without infringing on that limit. For marketers, this means more opportunity to include stunning visuals, videos, product demos, and more within our tweets. For customer support teams, it also provides the chance to share additional content such as screenshots and screencasts to help customers with their support tickets.

3. No more need for the .@ to begin tweets

These changes bring an end to a long-standing Twitter peculiarity where tweets that began with usernames were visible only to users who followed both the person tweeting and the person named. This lead to many users beginning conversations or tweets that mention other users with a ‘.’ before the @name, for example:


This quirk has always been a little confusing for some of Twitter’s users, both new and old. And Jack Dorsey hopes this change will help to make Twitter a bit easier to grasp: “Unfortunately those rules are hidden, and then they find out later,” Dorsey said to The Verge. “So then they have to learn this weird syntax that kind of looks janky. So we want to take that away first and foremost to remove some of the confusing aspects of the service.”

4. Quote yourself to share longer thoughts

It’s become fairly common to break up a tweet into a couple of sections to fully elaborate and share thoughts. However, with Twitter’s quote option, you can share two tweets that are intertwined and easy to follow – meaning users won’t have to scroll in the timeline of visit your profile to see the first part of your tweet. This gives you 280 characters to play with.

How does it work? Simply share your first tweet, and then quote that tweet and add the rest of your message in the 140 characters available to you in the second tweet.

5. Opportunity for better conversation

Twitter, at its heart, is all about conversation and connecting with others. One of the most important factors in this update is that we now have the opportunity for better conversation on the platform. With usernames not counting against character counts, we can fully embrace the 140 characters available to us to express ourselves.

Previously, having a conversation with two or more participants could become a little difficult as usernames could take up anywhere from 5-20+ characters, leaving little room to get your thoughts across.

In an interview about these changes and how they’ll benefit conversations on Twitter, Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, told The Verge:

“Generally, we want to make sure we’re encouraging a whole lot more conversations on Twitter. This is the most notable change we’ve made in recent times around conversation in particular, and around giving people the full expressiveness of the 140 characters. I’m excited to see even more dialog because of this.”

How this update affects Buffer

Here at Buffer, we’re keen to ensure everything works as it should when Twitter roll these changes out. The updates have a significant impact on tweets, and we’re working to have these changes in place when Twitter open these character count adjustments up to the public.

Over to you

It’s incredibly exciting to see these changes come to Twitter and I can’t wait to see how everyone begins to make the most of their 140 characters alongside all the great media-based content that’s shared on Twitter.

I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on these updates in the comments below: What are you most excited about? Will these changes affect how you use Twitter? I’d love to continue the conversation with you. 

Source: Longer Tweets Are Coming: All You Need to Know About Twitter’s 140 Character Update

We Didn’t Know How to Promote a Podcast. So Here’s All We Learned

Do you have a podcast? Are you thinking about starting one? Marketing a podcast is something that many people struggle with – like audiobooks, it seems to be difficult to find the right audience. This is an excellent article from Buffer. If you don’t already subscribe to Buffer – please do – an excellent source of information!


Before we launched our Buffer podcast, so much of our time and energy (99.9% of it, I’d wager!) was spent getting the sounds and feel just right. We did all the podcast things we were supposed to do in order to make a really great podcast — the interviews, the mixing, the uploading — and now that the time had come to press publish …

… we needed a plan to promote the podcast.

How do people promote podcasts? We didn’t know. We’d never promoted a podcast before!

So we went to work, researching all the best tips and strategies for getting a podcast seen by as many people as possible, downloaded as many times as possible, and maybe hopefully listed on iTunes’ New and Noteworthy list.

Here’s all we found and all that we’re excited to try. We’ll be sure to report back with what works!

The #1 Goal: Do Really Great on iTunes!

iTunes is responsible for as much as 70% of a podcast’s listens and downloads


In the process of researching how to promote a podcast, much of the advice kept centering on iTunes as the key channel for growth and attention. I hadn’t realized just how key iTunes really was!

Nieman Lab claims “70 percent of podcast listening happens through iTunes or the native iOS Podcasts app.”

Scott Britton says, “Listens on SoundCloud and YouTube are pretty insignificant compared to iTunes.”

Erik Diehn says, “There’s basically Apple and then everybody else.”

I’ve heard similar rumblings from others, too. When we launched our culture-focused podcast, CultureLab, my teammate Courtney’s primary goal was getting to a good spot in the iTunes listings. She was our oracle: iTunes is really important.

We’ll report back with the specific numbers that we find for The Science of Social Media podcast. If you notice that a majority of the advice in this post is iTunes-related, now you know why. 🙂

How to promote a podcast: 10 strategies to try

Many thanks to the people and brands who have been generous to share their podcasting tips online. Some of the best advice I found dated all the way back to 2012, which shows just how long some folks have been excelling in the podcast game. I’ll link to some favorite resources at the end of this article as well.

Here’s the big list of podcast promotion strategies we’re keen to try.

1. Leverage your guest’s audience

Make it easy for guests to share by creating snippets and quote images

We’re fortunate that our podcast has an interview format, where we get to talk to amazing people like Rand Fishkin of Moz and Meghan Keaney Anderson of HubSpot.

These people have big audiences.

Rand has over 335,000 Twitter followers.

HubSpot has over 1 million Facebook fans.

What we’d love to do is make it easy for our guests to share and promote their podcast episode. One idea is to send them a note on the day their podcast goes live and include a series of shareable media:

Prewritten tweets and status updates

Here’s an example of one of the images we made for Meghan’s episode:

Meghan Keaney Anderson quote - get hired on social media

Here is the email we sent for Rand’s first episode (feel free to copy it if you’d like):


From this thread on Growth Hackers, there’s some interesting advice to treat podcast promotion like you would content promotion, an area in which we have a bit more experience. Here are the specifics from the Growth Hackers thread:

Quality > Quantity
Solve a problem
Provide actionable insight
Hustle just as hard to distribute as you did to create
Leverage your guest’s audience

^^ It’s this last one that we’re excited to experiment with in some fun ways.

2. Promote on social media … in a dozen different ways

Share rich media, soundbites, video, images, teasers, evergreen — anything you can think of

We’re so lucky to have the amazing social networks that we do. There’s just so much creativity and fun to be had with promoting a podcast on social media.

For starters, share an update when the episode first goes live. 

Then, keep sharing.

Here are some ideas:

> Pin your episode tweet or Facebook post, featuring the iTunes URL.

> Create quote images in Canva or Pablo. Share these as standalone social updates with a link to iTunes.

Here’s the Canva template that we’re using.

> Create 15-second soundbite clips. Upload to Soundcloud. Then share on Twitter.

Twitter has a really neat implementation of Soundcloud audio specifically. People can play the audio right from their Twitter stream.


> Tease the next episode 24 hours ahead of time.

> Reshare the podcast episode multiple times. 

We do 3x to Twitter the first day, 2x to Facebook the first week.

> Talk about the behind-the-scenes stuff in an Instagram story.

3. Release at least 3 episodes on launch day

“I actually received negative reviews from people who had listened to the first episode and were upset that there was only one.”

The above quote is from Pat Flynn, the founder of Smart Passive Income. His advice about launch quantity is right in line with the best tips from others, too.

Publish 3 to 5 episodes when you first launch.

From our research, the very minimum number of episodes to have at launch is three. In general, the more the merrier. We had seven interviews complete before we launched our podcast, with three episodes planned for launch day and two apiece for the following two weeks.

This multi-launch strategy is a key part to Jason Zook’s plan for hitting the New and Noteworthy section of iTunes, which, as we mentioned above, is a huge way to get traffic.

Jason’s plan hinges on these two concepts:

Record and release several podcasts on launch day (3-5)
Build your audience before launching if possible

4. Convert the audio to a YouTube video

Name your video “Interview with …” for potential SEO

One thing we’d love to be able to do with the podcast is to repurpose it in as many ways as possible. Some companies do neat things, mixing live video (on Facebook and Periscope) with the live podcast interview. We’re excited to try a slightly different route.

We’re keen to add every episode of the podcast to our YouTube channel.

With a YouTube version, you get a handful of benefits:

Video to share on social media
Closed captioning and transcripts automatically from YouTube (great for accessibility if you’re not going to transcribe)
SEO benefits

This last one is really exciting.

In some cases, Google values video 53x as much as text.

So while we’re hopeful that our show notes help us rank a bit for long-tail terms in Google, we’re also excited that having a YouTube version could boost our rankings as well.

Scott Britton used this strategy to good effect with his interview podcast, choosing a specific strategy of ranking for “[Guest Name] Interview.” So for us, this might look like:

Rand Fishkin interview
Interview with Rand Fishkin

By adding this to the YouTube title, fingers-crossed, we’ll see some good results!

To convert audio (.mp3 for instance) to video (.mov), you can use a variety of different tools. Google’s support center recommends iMovie for Mac users and Windows Live Movie Maker for PC users. I quickly hopped into Screenflow to build a fast video version of our podcast.

Choose a canvas of 2,560 pixels wide by 1,440 pixels tall for best viewing at 2K resolution (there are a handful of other ideal dimensions here if you’re not interested in 2K)
Grab free stock video footage from Videvo or Pexels. Looping video is best; search “loop.”
Include a quick thumbnail either of your show’s logo or of your guest (or both)
If you’re feeling especially proactive, you can annotate the video with links, cards, and more from within the YouTube creator studio

Here’s one we made for our first podcast episode:


5. Submit your podcast to podcatchers and aggregators

Podcatchers — a pretty cool name, right? — are simply apps that play podcasts. The most popular one is the main podcast app in iOS; it’s the one with the purple icon and a picture of a microphone.

Beyond the iOS podcatcher, there are dozens of other apps that collect and play podcasts, and there are a host of websites that feature new podcasts and assist with discovery.

Here’s a quick list of 10 of the more popular ones:

Podcast Addict
Podcast subreddit
PodcastLand (your podcast is automatically listed here if it’s in iTunes)
Bello Collective
Podcast Republic

PodcastLand has a featured podcast of the month, which is chosen by user votes.

(In many cases, your podcast will work great with any of these services, particularly if you’re already on iTunes. The best bet is trying each app out for yourself to ensure a smooth experience for your listeners.)

6. Transcribe the audio

Try a service like ($1/minute) or Fiverr ($5)

A lot of highly successful podcasts offer a full transcript of the entire show. We’re choosing to take a slightly different route with this, pulling out highlighted portions of the transcript and including these in the show notes.


Would you rather have the full transcript? Or selected excerpts?

The transcript is great for SEO benefits and as a place to collect leads (you can add lead capture forms and links to your show notes page). We hope to capture some of these benefits still, while saving time and money from doing the full transcription.

7. Throw a two-week ratings party

One of the most significant factors in driving a podcast up the charts in iTunes (and into the New & Noteworthy section) is the rate at which you collect downloads and positive reviews in the first couple weeks.

You have eight weeks from when your podcast launches to get to New and Noteworthy. The first two weeks of these are especially crucial.

Here are a few party-planning components that can help make these first couple weeks after the podcast launch feel like an event:

Run giveaways (more on this below)
Throw a real party on launch day, either in-person or virtually via Facebook Live
Publish two weeks of podcast-themed blog content. This post is an example!
Switch out the email signatures on your personal email and on your team’s support emails
Get your teammates and company execs to post and tweet about it
Email 10 friends per day

8. Run a giveaway contest

How to enter: Leave a review on iTunes

The allure of free stuff and discounts can be a powerful motivator to get more listens to your podcast. And here’s the clincher: Ask for a review on iTunes as part of the entry requirements for your giveaway. This will hopefully earn you more reviews, which will boost the social proof on your podcast and get iTunes to take notice.

If you have the budget to allow for it, these might make some great giveaways:

Product discounts

And if you don’t quite have the budget:

Mention in the show notes
A shoutout at the end of the show
A 5-minute guest spot on the podcast

The best way to go about this is to simply kick off the contest either on social media or by mentioning it on the show. Ask people to leave an iTunes review in order to enter.

One of the tricky things with this is how to get in touch with someone who leaves a review. There’s no straightforward way to do it, but the good news is that most usernames now are a close enough approximation of someone else’s social media handle that you are likely to be able to find them, DM them, and get in touch.

Here’s one we did on Instagram where we hoped to spread the launch of the podcast by encouraging people to @-mention their friends.


9. Find partners to mention you

Mention brands in your podcast. They might just mention you back!

This strategy has roots in content marketing where there’s often a reciprocal effect when you mention a business in a blog post. You’ll often find that business then mentions your post on their social channels.

For podcasts, it can work in a similar way. If you mention any businesses or brands in your episode, this provides an opportunity to reach out to those brands afterward to give them the good news of being featured.

Or, if you see a connection with your podcast and another brand, a simple email might be enough to do the trick.

Scott Britton of Life-Long Learner tried this outreach with Feedly, and it worked like a charm:

In addition to Facebook and Twitter promotion, I got Feedly to feature my show’s audio feed as the 3rd ranked recommendation in their “entrepreneurship channel.” This is essentially a curated list of content sources for people interested in Entrepreneurship.

They included my show for a few weeks and it resulted  into 1k+ feedly subscribers to my podcast feed.

10. Be a guest on other people’s podcasts

Just like movie stars hit the talk show circuit to promote a new film or politicians travel the country before an election, you can head out on a podcast tour and make guest appearances on podcasts in your niche.

Booking guests for regular, weekly podcast episodes can be a bit of a challenge. We’re noticing just how much work this advanced planning can be as we fill out the interview calendar for the Buffer podcast.

Many podcasts are likely to appreciate the proactive outreach. Any who take you up on the offer will make for a great promotion opportunity for your new show.

To find a listing of podcasts in your niche, you can visit the iTunes listing page and view podcasts according to dozens of categories. In the “Business” category alone, there are nearly 240 shows!


Bonus: How to get in the New & Noteworthy of iTunes

The New & Noteworthy section of iTunes is one of the most highly visible spots within the iTunes podcast area. You have two months (eight weeks) to get there before your podcast joins back with the rest of the podcast listings.

Though they don’t release the specifics of how podcasts are chosen for New & Noteworthy, iTunes seems to weigh the following factors quite heavily: number of subscriptions, downloads, and reviews in the eight weeks after launch.

There’s a lot of great advice out there from people who have successfully earned the New & Noteworthy distinction. Much of it we’ve covered here in the post. Here’s a quick recap:

Build an email list or outreach list before your podcast launches. This can be blog readers, product users, social media followers, etc.
Record 3-5 podcast episodes before you launch.
Pick a launch date. Note: It can take 2-4 days for iTunes to show your podcast after you’ve submitted it.
Create assets like images, clips, and shareable quotes.
Launch day!
Message your list to ask them to listen and review.
Keep publishing new episodes consistently. 


Further reading:

Everything You Need to Know About Podcasting – Inc

What You Need to Know to Launch a Successful Podcast – Smart Passive Income

How to Promote a Podcast –

How to Get Your Podcast to No. 1 in iTunes – Chris Drucker

Over to you

I’ve been really lucky to have heard lots of great podcast advice over the past few months from a handful of readers and Buffer customers. I’d love to keep learning! If you have any tips or wisdom to share about what has worked for you and your podcast, it’d be awesome to learn from you here in the comments.

Or, if you’re keen to share any thoughts on our Buffer podcast or promotion strategies (which ones feel good to you, which ones feel like too much), that’d be great, too!

Excited to keep the conversation going!

Image credits: UnSplash, Pablo

Source: We Didn’t Know How to Promote a Podcast. So Here’s All We Learned

How The London Book Fair Helps Vanity Presses Exploit Newbie Authors

Although the main focus of this blog is on the London Book Fair – as is pointed out – many of the larger conferences are guilty of this. As someone who hands out virtual kleenex to  victims of some of these companies, I agree that the conferences have got to stop giving these companies legitimacy.  Share this post if you agree!

Reblogged from David Gaughran’s blog

The most prestigious event in the UK publishing calendar, the London Book Fair, welcomes predatory operators with open arms, deliberately positions them opposite author events for extra cash, and then helps to whitewash their reputation – even running misleading interviews and puff pieces on its own website to help them get more leads.

I’ve been campaigning against vanity presses and author exploitation for five years now, and one thing that became apparent is the key role of book fairs and industry events in this mess.

Vanity presses are always keen to appear at these events because it:

  • lends their seamy enterprise an air of legitimacy to inexperienced authors who don’t know better;
  • gives them direct access to a pool of newbie authors attending the events; and,
  • creates an opportunity to sell various products to their users such as book signing services and book display packages costing thousands of dollars.

I’ve written previously for the Alliance of Independent Authors about how worthless book display services are a lucrative part of these events, and how they are mis-sold to inexperienced authors.

I’ve also written here about how book signing scams are a major source of income for vanity presses like Author Solutions (and a major source of heartache for the authors paying thousands of dollars and seeing little in return). While these articles have created awareness, not one of these events has taken action.

We aren’t talking about fly-by-night operators here – these are established, prestigious events like the Miami Book Fair or the LA Times Festival of Books. Most shockingly of all, the London Book Fair goes further than any of them.

On Tuesday, I wrote about a despicable trend: UK vanity presses who are shamelessly passing themselves off as legitimate trade publishers and only hitting authors with the news that they have to pay-to-play, and the (considerable) bill, when it comes to signing contracts.

One of the comments to that piece was particularly worrying:

Austin Macauley had a booth at LBF last year right in front of the Author HQ (I know, why would the good folks at LBF turn down a vanity publisher’s money, eh?), with one “publisher”, and 3, well… we decided to call them “booth babes”, holding a bunch of flyers and handing them to every passer by.

They basically combine all the cliches of a dodgy business — but the problem is that a lot of people will fall for these, and places like LBF keep putting them front and centre in their “self-publishing HQ.”

I was at the London Book Fair in 2013. The Author HQ is, like the name suggests, the focal point for writers at an event which is more geared towards publishers (and those providing services to publishers). Most of the author-focused events take place in that HQ area, and the passageways around it are where writers generally congregate. It’s probably the most heavily trafficked part of the fair (aside from the agents’ champagne bar).

And that’s where the organizers of the London Book Fair put vanity press Austin Macauley – the same one I wrote about on Tuesday which is masquerading as a trade publisher.

Could this have been an accident?

I called the London Book Fair this morning posing as a potential exhibitor called Arthur Kerr (sorry, couldn’t help it). Actually, the person I dealt with so nice and helpful that I felt terrible for the subterfuge, but I needed to establish some key points:

  1. It costs more to exhibit near the Author HQ, especially directly opposite same.
  2. Part of the deal (costing several thousand pounds) is a marketing package which includes “lead generation” – marketing speak for “we will deliver even more authors into your clutches.”
  3. No vetting whatsoever is done of exhibitors – even those who explicitly state they are engaged in author services and wish to take a stand directly opposite Author HQ. There were more questions about how many chairs I would like than what my “company” actually did (a big fat zero on the latter).

You might have guessed all of this already, but it was good to get it confirmed: the London Book Fair has absolutely no problem with exploitative author services being positioned where most writers will congregate.

Not only that, but the London Book Fair will also directly assist in whitewashing your reputation. Here is an interview with Austin Macauley conducted by the London Book Fair and hosted on their site, where they breathlessly describe them as “an energetic and imaginative independent trade publisher.”

Imaginative is one word for it.

I’m sure many of you are angry about this – and you have every right to be. This is the leading event of the UK publishing industry, and one of the most prestigious in the world. And the London Book Fair is not just allowing these guys to appear, but it’s actively generating leads for exploitative services, and directly engaging in PR efforts on their behalf to make them seem like legitimate publishers.

And it has to stop.

Here’s my proposal: the London Book Fair must immediately ban exploitative vanity presses and author services from appearing at its events. It has to end the practice of profiting from these predatory operators which are causing untold misery to authors across the UK.

Organizations like the Society of Authors should immediately back this call. If they can’t protect the most vulnerable writers from the worst of the worst, what’s the bloody point?

This is down to us authors. We can’t expect the publishing establishment to help us. Over 25,000 publishing professionals attend the London Book Fair every goddamn year and say nothing about this seedy crap.

Before I sign off, I’d like to deal with some reasonable objections that came up on Twitter when I floated this idea yesterday – primarily all variations on a theme. Namely, how do you define a vanity press or exploitative service? Where do you draw the line?

Well, if there is general agreement in principle that shady operators should be banned then working out the rest is just details. I’m skeptical the appetite is genuinely there, but I’ll play along.

I see two possible approaches:

  1. Start with the very worst operators and work from there. I’m sure that we (i.e. people like myself, Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware, Mick Rooney, the SFWA, and Orna Ross & the Watchdog team at the Alliance of Independent Authors) could easily come up with a solid list to start with – which I imagine would comprise of people like Archway, Tate, Austin Macauley, AuthorHouse, Xlibris, Balboa Press, Partridge, America Star Books (formerly PublishAmerica), Strategic, Trafford, Pegasus Elliot Mackenzie, iUniverse etc.
  2. Alternatively, hammer out a working definition of a vanity press/exploitative service. Potential starting point: is this service making money with authors or from authors? If that all feels a bit loose, the Alliance of Independent Authors have put an incredible amount of work into a comprehensive scoring system for vanity presses/self-publishing platforms/author services which I’m sure they would be happy to share.

This problem can be solved – you just have to want to solve it.

I’ll leave you with this thought: vanity publishing and associated predatory services are generally assumed to be at the fringes of the industry. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The deeper I dig – five years of this, let me remind you – proves that these guys are centralto the industry, and that whole swathes of the publishing establishment is geared towards separating inexperienced writers from their money in incredibly dishonest ways. And we never even talk about it, let alone take action.

Because this is the modern publishing business.

Overdrive Helping Librarians Reach New Readers

Source: Overdrive Helping Librarians Reach New Readers

OverDriveOverdrive announced today that at the American Library Association’s annual conference, the ebook and audiobook provider will be updating the industry on its latest news, including a new app, new merchandising tools and new suppliers.

Full press release below:

OverDrive’s Innovative Digital Resources Help Librarians Reach New Readers
Powerful curation options give the librarian more control to merchandise digital books

ORLANDO, FL — June 23, 2016 — With so many options to find and read digital books, librarians often compete to bring in new readers. Now, librarians can compete with new resources similar to those used by top retailers and e-commerce sites. By featuring a selected eBook or audiobook and recommending titles so readers can easily find new books in their favorite genre, librarians are merchandising more books from their digital collection. Having librarians suggest additional titles will help readers discover alternative books and keep them coming back.

As librarians meet this week at the American Library Association (ALA) annual conference, industry-leading eBook and audiobook provider OverDrive (booth #651) will demonstrate innovations, curation and reporting tools designed to help libraries stay competitive and reach more people in their community.

1. The completely new OverDrive app will provide the easiest and fastest experience for readers to read eBooks and listen to audiobooks on a mobile device. Based on OverDrive Read® technology, the new app has been engineered from the ground up to quickly onboard first-time users. Readers will always be one click away from online or offline reading, discovering more titles at the library and managing their checkouts. At ALA, library partners will have the opportunity to join a closed beta test of the new OverDrive app.

2. New Merchandising Tools will get more digital books in the hands of readers. Upgrades to the new OverDrive website and user interface provide new ways for libraries to connect with their users. Specifically, consortia libraries that are Advantage members, will continue to benefit from the consortium’s curated collections, but will also have the option to create and publish custom collections that are of interest to their local community. In addition, each library has options for their own unique, static URL to better promote their digital collection. These websites will be rolled out to the OverDrive network beginning in the fall.

3. Digital Book Clubs. Libraries are using Digital Book Clubs to connect with readers. Libraries around the world are increasingly using their OverDrive platform to host and promote “eBook Reading Clubs” enabling dozens of “city read” or “one book, one community” programs.
Publishers are capitalizing on this growing trend by offering libraries eBooks and audiobooks under simultaneous use or bulk discount plans. For example, independent publisher Sourcebooks has created a catalog specifically for library Digital Book Clubs.

4. Circulation and Demand Analysis. At no cost, OverDrive partners can receive a comprehensive Digital Library Performance Analysis. This advanced report not only displays circulation growth, but it also compares a library’s digital circulation to libraries of similar size and population around the country. It shows how a digital collection is performing and can be narrowed down for a closer look at genre, audience and format. This comparison helps librarians identify gaps in their collection or system features to deliver the most valuable digital library experience for readers.

5. Dozens of New Suppliers and Collection Development Tools. OverDrive’s global eBook catalog now offers thousands of comics and graphic novels, including new additions from DC Comics and Viz Media. Public libraries and schools can now offer their readers titles such as Batman: The Killing Joke and popular manga titles such as Naruto, which has sold millions worldwide. In addition, thousands of new titles are now available in dozens of languages, including large collections in Spanish, Polish, French and German. Finally, based on valuable partner feedback, OverDrive has added BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) subject headings to OverDrive titles for enhanced searching. The change is live first in OverDrive Marketplace and will be added to customer-facing websites later.

6. The NEW Digital Bookmobile. Building on the appreciation for the traditional bookmobile, as well as its inaugural tour from 2008-2015, OverDrive is updating the Digital Bookmobile. In 2017, a brand new Digital Bookmobile experience will hit the road on a North American tour to promote the local library’s and school’s digital service in new and exciting ways.

As lifestyles continue to get busier and technologies advance, people are taking advantage of eBooks and digital audiobooks more than ever. A recent Pew Research Report noted that awareness of eBook availability at libraries increased more than 20 percent among the general population in just the last year alone. As of April 2016, three out of every five adults now say they know their local libraries offer eBook lending programs. The innovations OverDrive is presenting at ALA correlates with the strong upswing in digital circulation libraries are experiencing at their OverDrive-powered websites.

For more information, visit OverDrive in booth #651 at ALA.

About OverDrive
OverDrive is the leading digital distribution platform, supplying the industry’s largest catalog of eBooks, audiobooks, streaming video and periodicals to 34,000 libraries and schools worldwide. We support all major computers and devices, including iOS®, Android™, Chromebook™ and Kindle® (U.S. only). OverDrive delivers all digital media on a single platform, and offers innovations such as OverDrive Read, the breakthrough EPUB and HTML5 browser-based reading experience, and Read-Along eBooks. Founded in 1986, OverDrive is based in Cleveland, Ohio USA and is owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten. For more information, visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and our blog.

9 Visual Tools to Create Awesome Social Media Images

Source: 9 Visual Tools to Create Awesome Social Media Images

social media toolsDo you want to create professional-grade social media visuals?

Are you looking for budget-friendly tools to help?

Visual content can increase your visibility on social media and support your branding.

In this article, you’ll discover nine free tools to help you create beautiful visual content for your social media profiles.

free professional social image tools

Discover nine free tools to create professional-grade social media images.

#1: Start With a High-Quality, Royalty-Free Image

There are now dozens of free image resources out there. Pexels and Unsplash both offer thousands of high-resolution images for free and without the need for attribution. Unsplash focuses more on landscapes, while Pexels focuses on business and technology collections.

With Pexels, you get access to a massive library of high-resolution images, which are perfect for a blog article, header, slide deck, or social media post. You can download and post any Pexels image for free.


Download a high-resolution image that’s a bit larger than you need and then crop and resize it in your photo editor.

Pexels is also a compilation site, so they collect free images from other free image providers. This makes it a great one-stop resource.

#2: Discover the Perfect Color Scheme

Adobe Color CC (formerly Adobe Kuler) is Adobe’s free color-scheme finder, which helps you determine complementary colors for your visual content. In other words, Adobe Color CC takes the guesswork out of picking colors.

adobe color cc

Adobe Color CC makes it easy to determine the best colors for your visual content.

To start, paste the hex code of a desired color into one of the five color boxes below the color wheel. Next, select Complementary or Triad from the Color Rule drop-down menu at the upper left to quickly find the colors that will look best with that color.

adobe color cc

Paste the hex code in one of the boxes below the color wheel.

Adobe Color CC also allows you to drop in an image and it will automatically identify its four primary colors. This helps with choosing font colors, contrasting overlays, and icons within your post.

#3: Take Advantage of Pre-made Icons

With Flaticon, you get free access to over 144,130 (and counting) PNG icons.

Looking for an email icon for a Facebook ad or Twitter image? You can choose from over 1,300 email icons and customize both color and size.


Flaticon has more than 1,300 icons for “email” alone.

Looking to create an infographic, cartoony advertisement, or Twitter image? Choose from over 1,800 “Avatar” icons.


Flaticon’s cartoon icon selection is among the largest free libraries on the web.

Flaticon’s library is most useful when you need to create a visual post dedicated to an upcoming webinar, podcast, conference, and so on.

#4: Reveal Optimal Contrasting Color

ColorZilla is a Google Chrome plugin that allows you to see the hex, RGB code, official name, and gradients for any color within a browser window. Use the Color Picker function to find the best contrasting color for a call-to-action button or to emulate a peer’s designs.

The tool automatically copies the hex code of any “picked” color to your clipboard, making your visual design more efficient.


The ColorZilla Chrome plugin makes copying and reusing colors simple.

Used in conjunction with Flaticon, you can quickly grab your “Brand Blue” and drop it into the color selector, ensuring you’re downloading an icon that’s the same color as your website logo.

#5: Find Perfect Font Combinations

Luckily, you don’t have to be an expert in fonts. With Femmebot, you can access 25 of the top font combinations from font experts and see how these combinations look with graphics and images, as well as formatting.


Femmebot showcases 25 visually appealing font combinations.

Femmebot’s font recommendations are a great place to start with visual content. Once you get rolling, you’ll quickly find the font combinations that appeal to you (and your audience) the most.

#6: Put It All Together in a Visual Content Tool

Now that you have your visual tools, you need a platform to actually create the content; one that helps you create something that looks like it came from a professional graphic designer.

Below is a simple example of a great-looking social media post from Buffer.

social image example

A simple Twitter image from Buffer promoting #BufferChat.

Let’s see if we can’t recreate it using free visual content creation platforms: Canva, Google Drawings, and PicMonkey.

Get All of the Help You Need With Canva

Canva was built for creating visual social media content. As such, it’s a tool that gives you a great result fast. You get access to presized social media post templates with easy-to-edit preloaded text.


You can easily download and share the visual content you create with Canva.

Canva has a lot going for it. It offers premade social media image templates, including layouts that make content creation fast and easy.

Note: Investing in Canva’s “Canva for Work” plan ($10/month paid annually) allows you to save your brand colors, logos, and fonts, resize your designs for cross-platform use, create branded templates, and share all of it among your team.

The free version, however, is more than enough for most small business and social media managers. Definitely test it out before diving into the paid version.

Start From Scratch With Google Drawings

Google Drawings is an often-overlooked visual content platform because it’s part of the larger Google Drive suite. Though the learning curve is steeper than other platforms, Google Drawings is actually one of the more powerful tools once you know what you’re doing.

You get access to 500+ fonts and powerful layering and formatting options. The Distribute and Align tools make it easy to create perfectly symmetrical and distributed graphics. The best part is that it’s free.

google drawings

The free Google Drawings is quite powerful.

Note: If you’re using Google Drawings for your social media visuals, you’ll have to set the page size manually. Below, you’ll find a quick social media sizing chart.

Facebook photo sizes:

  • Cover photo – 828 x 464
  • Profile photo – 360 x 360
  • Link image – 1200 x 628
  • Photo post – 940 x 788

Twitter photo sizes:

  • Header photo – 1500 x 500
  • Profile photo – 500 x 500
  • Tweeted photo – 1024 x 500+

Instagram photo sizes:

  • Profile photo – 180 x 180
  • Photo post – 1080 x 1080

Focus on Beautiful Images With PicMonkey

While PicMonkey is focused on image editing, it can also deliver a quality end result for social media visuals. There’s a substantial gap, however, between the free and paid versions.


PicMonkey’s visual content builder is focused on image editing.

PicMonkey allows you to easily match your font or border exactly to one of the colors within your background image. It’s also a powerful image editing tool. The overlay library of icons and images is extensive.

Fonts are limited in the free version and much of the power is reserved for the paid version, which is $4.99 per month.

Here’s an example of a Twitter post with a slightly different style than the one emulated before. This graphic was made using Flaticon, Google Drawings, Femmebot, and ColorZilla.

social image example

The most professional social posts incorporate multiple tools.

You’ll want to find the tools that align best with the visuals you’ll be creating. Canva is a good choice if you’re marketing on several platforms at once and need to create a lot of content. Google Drawing is great for more complicated graphics or if you have a lot of team involvement. PicMonkey is excellent for quote overlays and photo-dominated social media strategies.


Whether you’re working with videos, GIFs, infographics, slide decks, or posts, there’s no question that visual content is an essential part of any social media marketing plan. These free tools can help you boost brand awareness and engagement.

What do you think? Have you tried any of these visual tools? Which tools work best for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Tips on nine tools to create beautiful free social media visuals.

Tips on nine tools to create beautiful free social media visuals.