Office Hack: iPhone stand

image-9I had some inspiration last night for an iPhone stand holder. You don’t have to go out and buy one….just find some supplies around your office. You’ll need 4 things:

1. 2 big binder clips

2. twist tie

3. thick paper

4. tape

First, take one of the binder clips, open it up to “eat” the other binder clip so it stays put. Use the legs on the binder clip to make a stand. Next, take a twist tie and tie it around the binder leg that is on the desk. This will keep your phone from sliding off. Finally, fold some thick paper so it makes a steady platform for the top of the iPhone and the bottom of the binder clips holding the iPhone. Tape them so the stand doesn’t wobble. There ya go!

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Do Your Facebook Fans Matter?

I know, I know. But what about all of your fans? All that time and money you spent building up 1,000, 2,500, 5,000, 10,000, 100,000 fans. But what’s the point of having fans if they’re not seeing your content? If you’re managing a Facebook Page for your business and you’re frustrated, you have every right to be. It’s a grieving process most people are going through. I would start by reading up on grieving and loss at WebMD. Better now? Let’s move forward!

Your fans used to see the majority of your content. I mean, they did Like your Page. They opted in. Simple, right? Wrong. And for the advanced few, you learned about Edge Rank– in part explained by Alex Houg of BlitzMetrics. Not all content is created (weighted) equally. So you knew the right type of content to post, the best times to post, and occasionally “boosted or promoted” a post to give your content the strength of a rocket ship. At any rate, your fans saw your content and all was good in the world. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve noticed that organic reach on Facebook has dwindled down to nothing- sometimes lower than 5% and the likelihood of that trend continuing is 100%. What do you do?

I need to preface this. I’m referencing brands that have fewer than 10,000 fans. These are the small business owners and NPO’s that are probably most affected by the changes on Facebook. Personally, I’m of the mindset that not enough people are seeing my content organically and that Facebook is 100% a pay to play platform. Sometimes I’ll get lucky and a post gains some organic traction but I’m not putting my faith in that- especially If I’m looking for the ROI on Facebook.

Content is still king. You still have to create engaging content. There’s no way around that. Don’t think that you can Boost a post or create an Ad for content that is crap and expect great results. Go ahead and try it. Your cost per engagement and cost per impression will be really high. Yesterday I met with a plastic surgeon that was talking about his practice and how they’ve started to use Facebook. He got excited that he could pay $30 and his post was seen by 5,000 people. A whopping 6 people liked the post and the traffic was driving fans away from their website. Super fail. If you create fun and interesting content, target a custom audience, and have a strong call to action, you’ll likely see your engagement levels where they should be. Moral to the story- there’s no point in trying to polish a turd. Create great content geared towards custom audiences with the right type of Ad and you’ll see impressive engagement numbers.

Define your audiences. Yes, that’s plural. You have several audiences. It’s not just the people who like your page. It’s your email list, fans, friends of fans, non fans and all of the interests and demographics that connect them. All of your fans do matter- they’re just going to be used differently now. In the past, you could post a picture and a large percentage of your fans would organically see it. Now you have to pay to have them see it. Break up your current fans into custom audiences that fit the different products and services you offer and allocate a % of advertising dollars to engage your current fan base.

Facebook has some powerful tools if you know where they are and how to use them. Facebook is open about teaching users the importance of defining your audiences so you can (pay) market to them. Here’s a good over view. If you haven’t familiarized yourself with Power Editor, you should. BlitzMetrics can show you some creative ways to define your audiences by using Power Editor here. You can even import your email contact list and engage them as well- Find out how many are fans, where they live, what products they buy, the competitors they like, their income, the car they drive, etc. And then you can set up different message paths based on this. If that important piece of the puzzle is not in your current email marketing strategy, make it a priority now. Slightly off topic but still related- you should also consider the size of the audience that you’re targeting with your ads. Some ads can hog the inventory away from the other ads in the campaign.

Bottom line, there’s no way around having to pay for your fans to see your content. It’s now the rule and not the exception. So if you’re going to pay, keep your cost per engagements as low as possible by defining audiences that are most likely going to be a customer of your product or service.

Use the right type of ads. Facebook ads have changed and for the better. Campaigns, Ad Sets and Ads. Get to know them! Facebook has a wide variety of ads that can meet any performance outcome you can think of. Facebook lists the different types of ads available here.

Restaurants are always looking for ROI on social. It’s difficult to know who saw your Tweets or Facebook posts and decided to dine in Imagebecause of the content. Recently I did a Facebook Offer for 50% Off lunch and dinner excluding alcohol. We put $60 towards a Sponsored Story on anyone who claimed, commented, shared or liked the offer within 10 miles of Nashville. 777 people claimed the offer! Not only that, over 300 people redeemed the offer before the expiration date and they brought their friends. During the slow months of January and February, we ran these once a month and our sales were enough to put us back to where we were late Fall…. all for $60. How’s that for ROI! Here’s how to be successful: Force the customer to make an impulse decision. We’re a nation of Grouponers. We’ll claim anything that says 50% off. But we’re also lazy and will let many deals and coupons go to waste. To get people to actually use the deal, you need them to make YOU a priority. If I remember correctly, we posted this deal Monday night and it was valid Tue-Fri of that week. People who probably weren’t going to dine in at The Slider House became paying customers and brought their friends who didn’t claim the deal.

Did you know that Facebook has its own remarketing pixel? Essentially this allows you to advertise in front of individuals that have visited your website. Wouldn’t you consider these as qualified leads since they’ve already sought after your information? Absolutely! Don’t know if your ads are working for you? Here’s some tips that Alex Houg recommends. And for goodness sakes, stop thinking about all your marketing channels as silos. Your email list, your web traffic, Facebook audience ect can all work together now and Facebook has the Ad structure to accommodate.

There is a growing frustration for marketers, brands, and general users on Facebook. Don’t believe me, read this epic story of a brand breaking up with Facebook! The comments at the bottom are even better. Anyways, You should feel lucky that you’ve been able to market to your fans for free for so long. I mean, really. Of all the advertising methods out there, Facebook allows you to track measurable results and allows your content to be seen by a large number of your fans for free. But Facebook marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. You’d be surprised with what you can do with $5 or $10/day. Focus on creating great content, building and defining audiences that make sense and using ads to convert them from fans to customers.

I stay up to date on Facebook marketing by following BlitzMetrics, Inside FacebookAlex Houg and Dennis Yu

What issues are you having with Facebook?

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Airbnb changed how I live

Life is busy. I get it. We leave the house every morning juggling computer bags, breakfast and coffee. Dishes are still left in the sink from the night before. I promise I’ll put them in the dishwasher when I get home. After a hectic day, we get home. Too tired to do anything other than sit on the couch and catch up on House of Cards on Netflix. You look to your right and the dishes still sit there in the sink. I’ll get to them in just a minute. I just need to rest for a second. I deserve this. Shoes are left by the door, towels are draped over the bed post, another hanging over the corner of the door. Your dirty clothes bucket is now your clean clothes bucket. It’s sometimes easier to pick clean clothes from the clean clothes bucket instead of folding everything and finding 3 socks without a match. Seriously, where do they go?  Your mail is all over the counter. Some dating months back because like the dishes, you’ll get to them after work.

Does this sound like your house?

Last week I decided to list my house on Airbnb. I travel a lot and thought it would be a good idea to have my house make money while I was out spending it. Within 36 hours, I had my house booked for almost the entire month of April! The more I read on Airbnb about what makes a host home successful, the more I realized I needed to make some serious changes to how I lived at home. It’s one thing to have your friends stay at your house and another to have complete strangers come stay at your house. Your friends accept you for who you are. They know you’re not the most organized and won’t judge you for having a house that is messy. However, when money is involved and strangers are paying to stay at your house, they’re not as understanding as your friends might be. Here’s 2 things I learned about how I live by listing my place on Airbnb.

1. Live Uncluttered- Simplicity in Organization I’m not the most organized person. Even when I try to be organized, it looks more like I tried to take chaos and messiness and just stack them on top of each other. I take that back. I AM organized. I know where everything is. Unorganized means I can’t find anything. I know where that sweater is. It’s in the bottom of my clean clothes bucket because I saw it two days ago when I was searching for my other sock… My mail is always stacked in piles, rarely used appliances collect dust on the counters, wires and cords are found all over the house because we can’t live life with 3% battery remaining. How many shampoo bottles do you really need? I bet 3/4 of them have about 2 squirts left in them! Have the mid set of a hotel room….Here’s what I did: 1. Counter tops- if it’s not something I use every day, it goes up. Those “decorative” things you keep around… Are they really decorative or are you just telling yourself that? If it resembles magazines or liquor bottles, throw them away. The goal is to have nothing on them except for a candle or a lamp. 2. Bathroom- Everything gets put up. There is literally nothing sitting around the sink. No tooth brush holders. No hair gel. Everything except a bottle of hand soap can stay. When guests come, bathroom towels are neatly folded like what you see in a hotel. Same thing goes for complimentary toiletries. 3. Bedroom- Anything that’s on a night stand or a dresser that’s not physically attached needs to either be thrown out or put a way. The only exception is a lamp. 4. Living Room- If it’s not functional, get rid of it or put it up where it can’t be seen. I had multiple pairs of shoes and umbrellas at the door way. Seriously, who has multiple umbrellas?! I put everything up except for the main pieces- couch, coffee table, tv, small desk, lamp. That’s it.

2. Attention to Detail. Back to the hotel example. Think like your home is a hotel room. Everything is functional and everything is easy to find. You never have to dig through anything in a hotel room. Why should you expect yourself or a guest to do the same? When a guest arrives at your house, it’s the little things that make a big difference. Towels are neatly folded almost like what you’d see in a hotel. Complimentary toiletries are easily found on the sink and shower. There is no dust, dog hair, human hair of any nature found in the house. I think you would amaze yourself if you spent just a little bit of time and cleaned all of your baseboards, cleaned the corners where dirt and dust collects and dusted the blinds. Just doing that made my house smell 10 times better!  If your house smells old, spend $10 and get some Glade Plugins. I got the Spring scent and I can’t lie- my house smells amazing. I also like to have symmetry in the house. Everything is centered, labels facing forward ect. It almost feels OCD. I’m not OCD but to keep your place looking like a hotel room, you’ve got to be a little OCD!

Once I got everything organized and cleaned, I was actually sad to leave my house. I wanted to stay and enjoy the fruits of my labor! The nice thing is when I come back home, the only thing I’m really having to do is clean counter tops, do some laundry and change the bed sheets. When I’m at home for longer periods of time, I keep my place clean by reminding myself to slow down. Slow down and take a few extra minutes to clean the dishes and put them back up. Don’t let anything sit in the sink. Clothes don’t go on the floor. Mail does not collect on the counters. When you view your house as a business and customer satisfaction can yield an increased price per day, you change the way you live in your house. At the end of the day, I feel less stressed. I like knowing I can come home to a house that is very clean. I’ve always said that the state of your home reflects your attitude, personality and outlook. Mine is looking pretty damn good 🙂

GoPro Park City

My latest trip to Park City, Utah. I snowboarded with a few friends and tried not to send myself to the ER. https://plus.google.com/105237014819123161382/posts/hbyFAgX7HC6

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Tinder: Swipe to the left, Swipe to the right

Tinder. I don’t even know where to start. I’ve used Tinder before….for professional purposes only of course. Too many selfies? Swipe left. If I can’t tell which one you are? Swipe left. Boobs hanging out and alcohol everywhere? Swipe left. Duck face, chicken elbow? Swipe left. 

ImageOk so maybe I’ve used it for personal reasons as well. 

Last week I was swiping my life away on Tinder and I ran across a familiar face. Do you recognize her? It’s Mindy Lahari. Most notably for her role in The Office. Why would she be on Tinder? No, she’s not looking for love. Or is she? When in doubt, swipe to the right and see what happens. (that means you’re interested.) 

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YOU’VE GOT A MATCH! 

 

 

What do I do now? She obviously swiped to the right as well so I guess there’s a mutual attraction. I mean, who can resist my dog Cooper?! 

 

 

Sadly, this does not end with me falling in love with a movie star on Tinder. Dang. So close…

Mindy Lahari has a new show coming out on Fox called The Mindy Project. I think this is her first role as a solo personality and she probably wants to make sure she has ratings that will keep her on for more than one season. What better way to capture the coveted 18-34 demographic than using the latest app and technology trends…like Tinder. Tinder has long been painted as a hook up app. To me it seems more like an easy way to meet new people. Late this Summer, Tinder boasted 100 million matches and 7.5 billion profile ratings from its constantly growing base of users.

“At first around 75 to 80% of our users were 18-24, now 67% are 18-24 and we are seeing more in the 25-34 range joining,” Founder Justin Mateen

Mindy uses Tinder to bring exclusive content to the age demographic she desires for her show. Tinder allows you to select your 

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interest (male or female), age range, and distance from your phone. Mindy, and I want so badly to believe it really is Mindy, swipes to the right on everyone that comes up. When she gets a match, she sends them a message. The message is tailored for the app and contains exclusive content about her upcoming show. Here’s the link featured in the message: http://youtu.be/78YXPVUOQFg

 

Personally, I don’t watch a lot of TV. If Fox regularly advertises The Mindy Project, I’m probably not going to know about it. But I do use social media a lot. Some might say it’s excessive. Whatever. I’ve at least got a legitimate excuse for always being glued to my phone. Here’s what’s happening- People are tired of Facebook. Even our Twitter feeds are getting cluttered because we’re following so many people. Instagram is still fun. Snap chat? If you’re into selfies, it’s really hot right now. Jelly? What? You haven’t heard of Jelly? Anyways, social media marketers must be in-the-know. They need to feel what their audience is doing, where they’re going, and how they’re spending their time. If something is hot, ride the wave till it crashes on the beach. The Mindy Project was pretty smart for connecting with users on Tinder. It’s a popular app that fits her demographic and it’s not riddled with other brands and advertisers. I’m sure there were many male individuals that did not know who Mindy was. They swiped to the right, got a match, received a message and found out that this wasn’t just anybody. It was Mindy Lahari and she has an upcoming show on Fox. 

 

As the social media landscape constantly changes, what are you doing to position your brand for success and think outside of the box? 

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ML350Today I turned 29 and bought a new Mercedes Benz. How could my day get any better? Simple. A tweet. Yes, after buying my first car, a Tweet is what made my day.

Upon returning home, I snapped a few pictures of my new ride and posted them to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I mean, if you don’t do that immediately, it’s like the purchase never happened. I tagged @MBUSA in my pictures and used the hashtag #ML350. Within minutes, my tweet was favorited by Mercedes Benz on Twitter and I received a response. They used Tweet a Coffee to say thank your for my purchase! (If you haven’t used Tweet a Coffee to say thank you on Twitter, you should. It’s a genius move by Starbucks.) Not only that

Tweetbut they took enough time to read my bio and know I had a dog named Cooper that has an over-the-top online personality! Driving out of the lot, I was already thinking, “Yea, I could be a Benz kinda guy.” But after they responded to my tweet, I was immediately shopping for a Mercedes Benz coffee mug that I could put my Tweet A Coffee in!

Social media is a fantastic tool for listening. It’s an opportunity for any brand to hear what customers are saying and respond back in a way that reflects positively on their brand. Personally, I take to social media if I ever have any customer service issues. With most large brands that have a strong social media team, I know I can get a response back almost immediately. I once handled the return and exchange of my broken Swiffer WetJet all from using Twitter. No 1-800 numbers at all!

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As a social media manager, sometimes we forgot the power of a genuine and thoughtful response. It’s the simple gestures that can take a great experience to a WOW experience. I now follow Mercedes Benz on all the social media platforms I’m most active on and will more than likely engage with a lot of their content because of this experience.

Remember to make each tweet an opportunity to tell your story and completely WOW a customer. Keep that in mind and you’ll have a huge community of life long fans!

A lesson from Mercedes Benz on Social Media

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TomTom GPS Sports Watch Review

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Full Disclosure: I’m sitting in bed at 9:30am, 2hrs behind schedule, because my TomTom watch that I have used for a month in training is useless.

A GPS sports watch should be able to do following without fail. 1. Allow the user to simply hit ‘Start’ and begin running. 2. Easily transfer data to a computer. 3. Allow the user to navigate watch controls without having to look at a user manual. The TomTom GPS Sports Watch fails miserably at each of those.

I purchased two of these watches. One for myself and one for my brother. Initially I liked the price point and the slim design as other GPS watches can be very bulky. After using the watch for a little over a month, those were the only two things that impressed me.

My first and understandably biggest complaint falls into the user interface (UI) category. I purchased this watch specifically for the North Face Endurance Challenge Series in Georgia. The 50k started before 7am and in the dense woods, it remains dark for the first hour of the race. I started my watch (with a full battery) in ‘Night Mode’ so I could see my pace. After about 2 hours of running I looked down at my watch and half the battery life was already gone. A 50k takes me about 6hrs to complete and I knew there was no way the battery would last. When I brought the watch to the ‘Pause’ screen, I had hoped to see an option to change ‘Night Mode’ from ON to OFF. I had to stop my watch completely, thus losing all of my race data, to turn it off. Complete fail. It’s not like I was running a 5k. This was a 50k. You live and die by knowing how far you are to the next aid station and how many hours you have left to go. I went half the race with a dead battery. To say I was majorly disappointed was an understatement. The battery life might get you 6hrs with the ‘Night Mode’ off. With it on, you’d be lucky to get 3hrs.

In addition to UI issues, I had no clue how to use the majority of the features. They all seemed pointless. Like the ‘Treadmill’ function. I still don’t know the point to that. A treadmill already has time and distance functions and probably a lot more accurate! One would think you could go to the user manual that comes with the watch for additional support. Nope! They just send you to a website which doesn’t offer anymore help on how to get the full benefit from the watch.

Clear Your History- You can’t do this from the watch. I found this out the hard way during a 2 hour run yesterday. The watch becomes functionless and constantly vibrates telling you that your storage is full. Imagine having that go on for an entire hour. I was willing to give TomTom one last shot if I could successfully download their software to my computer, follow whatever instructions listed, clear my run history and go about my day. Nope! To start, I had to Google how to do this because it was fairly difficult to find on the TomTom website. The download process on my computer was going smoothly until I had to register with Map My Fitness.

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I already have a Map My Fitness account. I entered my login information, clicked Authorize and nothing happened. I tried this process literally 15 time this morning. I even tried hitting Decline, thinking that I could go around that section and connect later. Same thing happened. To make matters worse, the entire system kept crashing! And crashing! AND CRASHING!

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At this point I’m beyond frustrated. I can’t clear my history which means I have a $169 useless watch. As an avid runner/triathlete, I’ve tried several GPS watches: Garmin, Timex/Ironman, and now TomTom. I will never recommend a TomTom Sports Watch product after this. Nor do I really want to use a product powered by TomTom- sorry Nike. I’ve used this product now for a month and I’ve given it so many chances to redeem it’s value and each time it leaves me disappointed.

Pros:

1. Price Point $169 w/o the HR monitor

2. Slim design- I actually wish the Garmin 310x fit this way

Cons:

1. Battery Life- 6hrs of normal GPS mode. 3hrs with Night Mode on. I would expect both to weaken with age of the watch.

2. User Interface controls- You can’t change in and out of ‘Night Mode’ without stopping your run progress. You can’t clear your history while using the watch. You can’t use the watch as a regular start/stop watch without using the GPS.

3. Downloading TomTom to computer- Just didn’t work.

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2013 Racing Goals

Today was an off day or a “train if you feel like it day” but it was also a day to reflect on your 2012 season (or in my case lack thereof) and to project goals for 2013.

What did I learn from (NOT) training last year?

  • Beer and fast food are no substitute for swimming, biking and running.
  • My metabolism is getting slower in my late 20’s.
  • I don’t recover as fast as I used to.
  • You lose a lot of strength and endurance when you take 18 months off.
  • Starting over from scratch SUCKS!
2013 racing goals:
  • Finish my first full Ironman in under 11 hours.
  • Do a sub 5 hour 70.3.
  • Make nutrition a priority- living a healthier lifestyle.
  • Find a balance between work, play and training.
  • Encourage others to push themselves beyond what they think they’re capable of doing.
Why?
  • Pretty simple- I don’t want to waste that which I’ve been blessed with. The past 18 months clearly showed that my life is not in balance when I’m not utilizing the majority of my God-given talents. It more less comes down to living with purpose and being intentional with the decisions I make. The “why’s” of my 2013 goals have absolutely nothing to do with nutrition, fitness or competition. They’re merely byproducts of a lifestyle I want to life; living and training for purposes greater than the sport itself. Finishing times will come with patience and hard work. There’s not substitute for that but will it make or break my year? No. Triathlon just makes me a better person overall and that’s what I’d like to end my season with knowing.
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Monogetti Interval Run

This is a speed work and endurance session I did this morning and I wanted to share it with you. It’s called a Monogetti run. I don’t know who Monogetti is but you’ll probably curse his or her name after you’re finished!

It’s basically intervals worked into the middle of your running or biking workout. You can change the intervals depending on the distance you’re running or particular race you’re training for. The intervals for this morning were geared towards speed work by X3 Endurance Coach, Robbie Bruce.

20 min warm up

(ON=fast Off=slow)

:30on :30off :30on :30off

:45on :45off :45on :45off

:60on :60off :60on :60off

:90on :90off :90on :90off

:60on :60off :60on :60off

:45on :45off :45on :45off

:30on :30off :30on :30off

Cool down till you’ve ran for 1 hour.

Here’s my results:

20 min warm up at 8:04 pace

(Times listed are pace/mile for ON sets)

Set 1: :30s 6:37 and 6:30

:45s 6:23 and 6:20

:60s 6:22 and 6:10

:90s 6:04 and 5:57

Set 2: :60s 6:22 and 6:02

:45s 5:51 and 5:54

:30s 5:29 and 4:32…yes 4:32!

15 min cool down to make 1hr run.

Overall I felt really strong for my first had running session in…well… I can’t remember.

If you have questions on training, give Robbie a shout on twitter at @X3ECoach

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Couch to Ironman in 25 Weeks

Alright, alright. The title might be a bit misleading. I fully realize that even in my “worst shape” I’m still better off than most. I’ve been on a hiatus from triathlon and anything fitness or nutrition related amidst some drastic career and life changes. To put things in perspective, the last triathlon I did was in Miami 2 years ago.

About a month ago I did my first 50k ultra marathon. I trained for 7 weeks and during that time I felt like my life was back in balance. I’m now training for Ironman Texas. It’s a hometown race for me and I’m excited to start training for it. My first glimpse of an Ironman race was in 2009 when I rode down to Ironman Florida with my buddy Charles Kaelin to sign up for the 2010 race. I even bought an Ironman wristband as a reminder to myself to not lose sight of my goal. It’s been 3 years since I first signed up and I never took it off my wrist. The 2010 race didn’t work out for me but Lord willing, 2013 will be my year to make that dream over 3 years ago come true.

Over the next 25 weeks I will be posting all of my workouts to Training Peaks, my Twitter and my Facebook . I’m being coached by Robbie Bruce at X3 Endurance. He’s built a solid team over the past year and secured partnerships with Trace Bikes, Max Muscle and Nashville Running Company.

And like my latest tweet says: “@NashvilleRyan: 25 weeks out from IMTX! Don’t bother asking me to go out on a Fri or Sat night because the answer is NO!”

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