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Good VS. Bad Advisor Marketing: Tactics to Stop and Start Doing Immediately

Do your marketing tactics strengthen your credibility and amplify your expertise? Or is it possible that your tactics are actually damaging your reputation and costing you time, money, and opportunities?

Financial advisors don’t deliberately use bad marketing tactics. That’s why I’m about to show you the differences between good and bad marketing. 

Let’s begin…

 

What does BAD MARKETING look like?

  • No clear audience
  • No clear benefits
  • No empathy for what ideal audience is going through
  • No clear story 
  • Inconsistent messaging
  • Inconsistent execution
  • No clear marketing mindset or an undefined strategy
  • Tactics that change without a clear why
  • Focuses on selling versus educating and building credibility
  • Focuses on converting leads versus building relationships
  • No one owns its execution and outcomes
  • Annoys more people than it attracts and engages
  • Creates a “sea-of-sameness” name for yourself in your industry
  • Constantly searching for the next big idea because most of what you touch loses effectiveness quickly or never really worked, or you didn’t stick with it long enough to experience the benefits
  • Focuses on short-term gains
  • Focuses on short-term ROI: direct measurable results that don’t account for long-term marketing benefits

Good marketing is good for your business. Good marketing takes time and requires effort and planning. There are no shortcuts. It builds your credibility, most importantly –– the basis for trust. 

 

What does GOOD MARKETING look like?

  • Clear audience
  • Clear benefits
  • Clear story 
  • Empathy for what ideal audience is going through because you researched and know your niche
  • Consistent messaging
  • Consistent execution
  • Clear marketing mindset and a defined strategy
  • Tactics that evolve in alignment with a clear purpose/outcome/strategy
  • Focuses on educating and building credibility
  • Focuses on building relationships
  • One person/team owns its execution and outcomes
  • Attracts, engages, and endears people to you
  • Creates a reputable name for yourself in your industry as a person who brings real value to the relationship
  • Focuses on building momentum over time and understanding the direct and indirect benefits of good marketing
  • Understands that keeping a client or inspiring them to refer is often more effective than just focusing on attracting new opportunities
  • You are bought into a long-term strategy and you stick with it
  • You create more value within your niche than other advisors because you are focused; they aren’t

 

You might be wondering how to jump from good marketing to great marketing. Great marketing can only truly be measured over many years. Great marketing is measured by the momentum it builds year after year. Good marketing done consistently over time keeps getting better and produces more and more results. 

Ready to learn more? Tune into our Top Advisor Marketing Podcast for strategies that you can use right away to shift your marketing into the good category!

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3 Wasted LinkedIn Opportunities

Did you know that LinkedIn can be a highly effective prospecting tool for advisors? 

LinkedIn is 277% more effective in generating leads than Twitter and Facebook, according to a Hubspot study. The study points out that LinkedIn users who visit websites come in more qualified and ready to buy

That’s right — LinkedIn may be the most efficient lead generation tool in the land of social media. So don’t leave any LinkedIn leaf unturned! Read on to learn about three big wasted opportunities and learn how to turn it all around.

 

1. You’re not sending a message when inviting someone to connect with you

 

Whether you’re reaching out to a center of influence (COI) that you met at a conference or a prospect that you found by using Sales Navigator, don’t you dare leave that message field blank. 

If you’ve already met this potential LinkedIn connection, use the message space to:

  • Remind them of how you met if you think it’s necessary
  • Reiterate how great it was to meet them
  • Pay them a compliment (e.g. “I was really impressed by your presentation, I was particularly intrigued when you said that…”)
  • Suggest another meeting or express the desire to keep in touch

Most advisors aren’t fazed by writing a message to someone they’ve already met. It’s writing to a cold prospect that seems more daunting. But this task becomes a lot easier when you have a template that you can customize.

Start by plugging these two talking points into your messages to prospects:

 

    1. Mention something you have in common from the get-go. Examples: they graduated from the same college as you, they work in an industry that you have experience with, you’ve volunteered for the same or similar organizations, etc.
    2. Explain why you are connecting with them. When you’re upfront about wanting to share your expertise, the prospects who connect with you will be more qualified than those who accept your connection based on a vague message.

 

Here’s an example of a message to a prospect, which you can use as a template:

 

Hi [first name],

I noticed you’re also a graduate of [insert name of your college]! I’m reaching out because I work with a lot of [College Name] alumni who are eager to create hyper goals-focused financial plans.

I’d like to share ideas with you on [insert your proudest offering here] from time to time. Hoping we can connect. Have a great day!

[Your Name]

 

 

2. You’re not making use of LinkedIn’s search features

Did you know that you can use LinkedIn’s search bar to see what your connections are talking about? 

On the desktop version of LinkedIn, find the search bar on the top left on your screen. It’ll be on the top middle of the LinkedIn app.

Click on the magnifying glass icon. A drop-down menu will appear with several filtering options, as shown in the image below. Select “Content.”

LinkedIn Image #1

LinkedIn will bring you to a new page. Now you can enter a keyword into the search bar and LinkedIn will show you all the posts that include that word. You can sort the posts by date, relevancy, connections’ industries, company names, and more. 

This is an excellent feature for seeking out COIs that could complement your expertise and bring value to your clients. 

If I were an advisor, I might search the term “divorce” to see if any divorce attorneys have created new content that they can discuss with me on my podcast or with my audience during a seminar. 

On that note, if I knew for sure that I wanted to seek out divorce attorneys, I could select “People” instead of “Content” and then type “divorce attorneys” in the search bar. LinkedIn would then generate a list of all the divorce attorneys that are in my network.

Play around with the search-bar features. This could be a good prompt for you to start relationships with COIs, reconnect with ones you haven’t talked to a while, and then combine forces to bring your clients well-rounded guidance. 

 

3. You’re not being generous enough

 

Let me ask you this: Are you trying to lure people in by giving them just a taste of your expertise? 

Stop the bait-and-switch approach start telling people everything you know. Why? Because you become important in someone’s world once they realize you know a lot. (Our founder Kirk really brings this point home in episode 196 of our podcast.)

This goes for everything you create, which might include blogs, white papers, podcasts, and videos. Pour your knowledge into these mediums and then share all of it with abandon on LinkedIn.

Put succinctly, start posting that stuff.

You can even post your entire white paper or a presentation on LinkedIn. On their desktop version, you can upload PDFs, slides, papers, and reports, which your connections can then download as a PDF.

To upload your documents to LinkedIn, click on the paper icon to the far left of the box that you normally type in to create a post. 

LinkedIn Image #2

I recommend sharing your seminar presentations and any slides that you show to new clients during the onboarding process. This is about giving people full access to your expertise so they realize that you have the answers to their biggest financial challenges. 

To make sharing your expertise sustainable and efficient, use a scheduler like Hootsuite to schedule LinkedIn posts. When you’re writing your posts, be sure to emphasize how your content solves your prospects’ challenges and then wrap it up with a strong call-to-action.

In addition to posting, send messages to your connections that include your content, such as specific episodes of your podcast. This probably goes without saying, but make sure the episode is relevant to that person. Instead of blasting out the same episode with a generic message, tell the person why you think they would find your episode about college-saving strategies helpful. 

There you have it! I hope you will take these LinkedIn pointers and run with them. Start making the most of this prospect-rich platform today!

 

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How to Plan Your Podcast Topics (And Never Run out of Ideas!)

Have you made the exciting decision to start your own podcast? Or maybe you’re a little hesitant. Many aspiring podcasters wonder how much work will be involved — specifically, how will they ever come up with enough topics for every single episode? 

I have written this short guide to provide you with useful tips so you will never run out of things to talk about on your podcast.

Let’s jump right in…

 

Listen to the people around you

Are your clients asking you the same questions frequently? If so, address those questions on your podcast. If your clients are often asking about mutual funds, for instance, plan to have a “Mutual funds 101” episode. As another example, if your clients are constantly asking you about the differences between wills and TODs, build an episode around that topic. Of course, you can also ask your clients directly about what they would like to learn and use those requests to form topics.

Topic ideas abound outside of the office too. Think about the industry events you’ve attended recently. What were the presentations and workshops about? Grab those topics and run with them! And you don’t even have to have attended the event; check out an upcoming conference’s website to see what topics they have lined up. Those ideas are yours for the taking.

Now think about networking events. What were the hot conversations topics amongst your centers of influence? Are they offering a new service or product? What client challenges are they solving right now? Consider having COIs on your podcast as a guest and let those hot conversations unfold.   

Use your expertise

Part of what makes you a great advisor is the vast array of financial knowledge you possess. If there is a particular area of financial planning you enjoy the most and have solid expertise in, use it as inspiration. For example, if you specialize in estate planning, think about what you enjoy the most about that aspect of planning.

What do you offer your clients that other advisors don’t? What do you excel at? What makes you different? Share that knowledge with your clients. People love to know what other people are passionate about.

Keep an eye on current developments and new laws

Tax season, new bills, and other developments will generate many questions from your podcast audience. Put yourself in their situation and think about what questions you would have about that subject. Next, plan a podcast episode that answers these questions and offers solutions during times of change. 

On a similar note, consider how people need to prepare for significant personal-finance events, like tax season. Develop a checklist for your audience, lay it all out during your podcast, and become your audience’s go-to source for getting prepped.

Think outside the box

What do you and your clients have in common outside of financial services? If you enjoy golfing and you know your clients do too, talk about that in your podcast. How does golf resemble financial planning or business opportunities? What lessons can you learn from golf that also apply to your financial life?

Another idea: Have you watched any of your acquaintances make bad financial decisions due to market volatility? Make a podcast about the emotional cycle investors experience and how to make better decisions.

Organize topics and subtopics as you go

Topics like budgeting, 401(k)s, and retirement are pretty broad. These are examples of main topics that you can draw millions of subtopics from. 

For example, if you would like to talk about budgeting in your podcast, here’s an example of how you can make the most of that topic:

Main topic: 

Budgeting

Subtopics:

    Benefits of budgeting

–     5 reasons people hate budgeting (and how to overcome them)

     Top 10 things a budget should include

    How to balance savings vs. fixed expenses

    How to manage debt (does the debt-snowball method work?)

To stay organized, plug your main topics and subtopics into mind maps through MindMeister. Alternatively, you could simply keep a list on your computer or in a notebook.

 

My parting words for this guide? Whatever method you use to brainstorm podcast topics, always keep your audience in mind. This is your opportunity to educate people, help them solve their biggest challenges, and showcase your expertise.

 

Related: 4 Things Really Great Podcast Hosts Do

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4 Things Really Great Podcast Hosts Do

A while ago, I was given the gift of interviewing Celeste Headlee for our Top Advisor Marketing Podcast. Celeste is a well known public radio journalist, news reporter, podcaster, and author. Considering that her book Heard Mentality has been a go-to for me — my reference manual to being a podcast host — you can imagine how excited I was to interview with Celeste!

During our podcast, Celeste gave our listeners advice on how to be a great podcast host. She started by saying that just because someone is generally a great conversationalist or public speaker, doesn’t mean they will be a great host.

So what makes a podcast host great then?

Read on to find out! Celeste had a lot to share with us! And it’s all good stuff.

Practice these 4 techniques:

1. It is never about you.  

You should not talk a lot as the podcast host. If you cannot remember when you started talking, you have been talking for too long. Your goal is to shine the light on your guest. If you’re getting long-winded, end your point and re-direct with a question or statement for your guest to take and run with.

2. Listen with more than your ears.  

Don’t be limited to using only headphones and a mic for communicating with your guest. Video conferencing is a great way to help you focus on their facial expressions, gestures, and micro-expressions. But, if you do not have access to the bandwidth or they don’t want to turn on their camera, there are other things you can do: Visualize them during the recording and gesture along with the gestures you imagine they are making. 

3. Make them comfortable before you hit record. 

Setting clear expectations after a polite conversation is an effective way to set your guest at ease. I have a script that I use to demonstrate our professionalism, preparation, and to help guests overcome common mistakes that guests tend to make. I would be glad to share them with you if you email me directly. 

4. When the interview is over, ask them for feedback on how the podcast went.

Ask your guest if there was anything you could do better and what they liked about the interview. Showing humility and a willingness to improve will help your guest continue to feel like the expert, and if you want them back as a returning guest, they will be more likely to accept. 

 

What is the greatest thing about being a podcast host? You always can learn, always get better, and hone your craft. Be encouraged! 

Practice these four tips from my interview with Celeste Headlee and listen to the full episode here to get more proven techniques. 

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An Open Letter to All Business Development and Sales People

Are you a business development or salesperson who’s asking people to marry you before the first date? 

Stop being so forward!

You may want to close business as fast as possible, but whatever happened to building relationships?  

In a dating situation, you would probably go on several dates before daring to ask for a long-term relationship. Besides, part of the fun of dating is thinking about the last date, between dates.  

Guess what, selling is no different. 

But how do you keep your prospects thinking of you between calls? What is the secret? Is it language, a phrase, or a technique that only successful people know?  

Nope, it’s all about these five steps.

Before I share the steps, I want to tell you why I know this works. Our company used these methods to grow our business from zero to 2 million in valuation. We did that in less than two years. So, this is not pie-in-the-sky stuff here — it is real and it works. It might sound too simple, but sometimes simple is the best approach. 

 

1. Make it about them  

The first few touches are not about you at all. If you make them about you, well, you’ll lose. It’s critical that you spend far more time listening to your prospective clients than you do talking.  And give nonverbal cues that demonstrate that you are listening. Show respect, and show that you actually care about your prospective clients as people, even if your solution might not be the right fit. By the way, if you are in the dating pool, this approach works incredibly well. If you do this step well, prospects will ask you to follow up with them. If you have to ask when you can follow up, you did not do this step well.

2. Personalize Your Content

Have content available and tailor your next piece of communication to suit their needs and interests. Your first touch after the first meeting should have nothing to do with business; show you were listening. If you had gone on an actual first date, you could send that person their favorite flower, a magazine that highlights their biggest passion, an introduction to a new band, or, even better, send them a puppy. Everyone loves puppies. Ok, I am kidding about the puppy, but you should have white papers, podcasts, articles, or videos handy to send to your new prospect. Do this once a week on different days for as long as it takes.

3. Throw away your time expectations 

No one ever buys on your timeline. Your sales manager may have a timeline they’d like you to hit; however, times have changed and hopefully your manager can understand that. I cannot emphasize enough that prospects will make decisions on their own timeline, not yours. 

4. Connect with them on LinkedIn and comment on their posts

Show your prospects that you’re paying attention. People love that. Connect with them on LinkedIn and pay attention to what they post. But don’t just like their posts; comment with thoughtful messages. Share their posts, too. If you don’t think you have time to do this, you’re wrong. Carve out ten minutes every day to engage with your prospects on LinkedIn.

5. Ask them to do business with you

When you see an opening, ask them to do business with you. But don’t force it.  Be nice, but persistent. If you know your solution is really beneficial to your prospects, tell them! Don’t sell them, show them.  

As with all risks, go in positive and be patient. All good things come when you don’t rush it. If you develop and nurture these relationships, you will have great referral sources and a pipeline that, over time, will allow you to be the most successful business development or salesperson in your office.

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How to Build and Maintain Your Personal Brand in 4 Simple Steps

Personal branding is a great way to enhance your presence both online and offline. Building your own message and professional image can open doors to opportunities you may have never been considered for.

Helping audiences understand more about you and what you do, adds great marketing value to your personal brand, foments trust in you and your services, and makes you look professional and organized. And we all know those elements are highly important in the financial industry.

Most importantly, personal branding gives you a chance to separate yourself by positioning your specific expertise for a specific audience.

Personal branding gives you a chance to separate yourself by positioning your specific expertise for a specific audience.There are many misconceptions about branding, and sometimes advisors don’t take full advantage of this powerful tool when thinking about marketing themselves or their services.

Some people wrongly assume that personal branding means creating a fake version of yourself to appeal to audiences by telling people what they want to hear. 

The truth is, personal branding is about acknowledging all of your greatest attributes and building a quality message around them, which, in turn, builds your exposure and enhances the image others have about you.

A great example of a strong personal brand in financial services is Josh Brown, “The Reformed Broker.” Josh is the CEO of Ritholtz Wealth Management, but still finds a way to separate his personal brand from that of his company.

Having a dedicated space for your professional self, outside of a company, can give you the freedom to express your personality, as Josh clearly does on his website and social media. You will often see that it’s his personal posts that get the most engagement, as Josh creates a forum for people to join the conversation.

 

 

Another upside of having personal social media profiles and websites? They give you more places to promote other services that you offer or content you create, such as public speaking or books and podcasts.

Here are a few steps you can follow to start building your personal brand.

Step #1: Define Your Goal

Take some time to understand what is it that you want to achieve through personal branding. Do you want to be known for doing something unique? Gain recognition from your peers or audience? Promote your books and other publications? Be hired for speaking engagements? Become a micro-influencer?

This is a crucial step that will allow you to understand your why. Understanding your why will allow you to come up with a solid plan and keep your focus on the strategies ahead.

Step #2: Research

Research what other top financial professionals are doing. Inspiration can come from a professional you admire, a mentor, or even your top competitor. Make a list of all the tactics you find interesting that have worked for others and that resonate with the public. Then, adapt those tactics to your brand and find ways to make them better: more compelling, more credible, and more resonant to your audience.

At this stage, you will also need to have a strong sense of who you are. Specifically, recognize your strengths and the unique services you offer. Evaluate the methods and words you are currently using to deliver your messages and the results they have gotten you. Take in the good and make it even better.

 

Step #3: Choose your purpose and words

It’s time to determine what you want your brand to be associated with. Now that you’ve had time to understand your purpose, recognize your unique attributes and strengths, and research your competition, it’s time to come up with concepts you would like to build around your brand and make a list based on those concepts. This step will help you create strategies to achieve your goal.Michael Kitces Twitter

If you want to be associated with trust, you may consider building a message around transparency and the systems you use to guarantee information safety or share any certifications and awards you have. 

If it’s innovation, perhaps promote your unique approach, that groundbreaking method you use to make your clients’ lives better. Find ways to talk about that state-of-the-art software you use that no one else is using. 

If you wish to focus on experience, you could create guides and tutorials for your clients, volunteer to speak at events, start a new podcast, or change the dynamic of an existing podcast.

Once you have that list of attributes, it’s time to create your unique brand statement. A brand statement is a short description of what you do, what you are good at, or, simply, your values. Here is an example from Michael Kitces; he uses the word “nerd” for his personal brand, suggesting that he is a dedicated and highly knowledgeable advisor. We also see that same message replicated across his social media.

 

 

Michael Kitces Website

 

 

Step #4: Nurture

Now that you’ve laid the foundation and core values of your personal brand, it’s time to start building it up. Embrace this opportunity to start creating original content. Showcase your personality, views, and expertise in any way you can. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to produce extensive publications. Sometimes the most personal forms of micro-content can inspire powerful conversations and build your relationships with ideal audiences.

 

Downtown Josh Brown 2

 

This last step is where it starts getting complicated for some advisors.

Marketing is not usually a “build it and they will come” tool, and it will take consistent effort to do it right. There has been a shift in the way businesses, professionals, and brands communicate with their clients — and this shift is becoming more common in the financial services industry, too.

Professional success for advisors is not entirely about the number and quality of leads and clients anymore. There is a new component to that: nurturing relationships with your ideal prospects, positioning yourself as a lead industry professional, and influencing people.  

Building your influence through personal branding can take some time. But it is, without a doubt, one of the most rewarding and important investments you can make in your career. 

 

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Social Media Changes – March 2019

The social media world is constantly changing. It can be hard to keep up with all of the latest features and policy updates, so we’ve made it easy for you to stay in the loop by creating a monthly roundup of what’s new on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.

This month, Facebook changed some of its advertising metrics, while LinkedIn made it easier to schedule meetings through Messenger. Meanwhile, Instagram made an exciting shopping update and Twitter continued to test a host of new features.

Read on for more noteworthy social media changes that happened in March 2019.

Facebook

New Ad Metrics

This month, Facebook announced  changes to how it will measure the relevance of ads. Before, Facebook used a relevance score to measure whether ads were relevant to the audiences they reached. Facebook has now broken down the relevance score into three categories to help advertisers get a better idea what tweaks they need to make to improve their ad’s performance.


The new relevance score will include:


  • Quality Rank — How your ad’s perceived quality compares with ads from your competitors.
  • Engagement Rate Ranking — How your ad’s expected engagement rate compares with ads from your competitors.
  • Conversion Rate Ranking — How your ad’s expected conversion rate compares with ads from your competitors.

Watch Parties

Forget live tweeting, Facebook is making strides to become the place to be for live chatting about televised events! This month, Facebook announced plans to expand its Watch Party feature to allows users to watch and discuss TV shows in real-time. Facebook will begin testing the new feature with live sports events like UEFA Championships League soccer matches so fans can have the chance “to cheer, debate and commiserate on Facebook while watching their favorite match-ups.” More features that might be added to the experience in the near future include trivia questions, fun facts, and live polls.

Facebook Outage

Did you survive the Facebook outage? In mid-March, Facebook and its other owned networks, including Instagram and WhatsApp, experienced their longest outage to date, or at least since Downdetector began tracking Facebook’s service levels in 2012. According to BNN Bloomberg, the sites went down at around 11:15 a.m. EST on Wednesday, March 13, and continued to be down until Thursday, March 14 — leaving users with little choice but to head over to other social sites like Twitter for online social interaction. Facebook has since cited the cause of the outage as “a shift in the setup of its computer servers.”

LinkedIn

Scheduling Meetings

Scheduling meetings online can be a hassle, especially when it comes to coordinating calendars — after all, we’re all busy people! But now, LinkedIn is making scheduling easier with their newest update to LinkedIn Messenger. Now when you’re chatting on LinkedIn Messenger to schedule a meeting, you can share your availability through a new “Availability” calendar button. LinkedIn will then access your local calendar to find available times and can also help you find a place to meet by allowing you to find and share locations in your chat.

Advertising

LinkedIn is continuing to refine its advertising tools. Just this month, they launched three new advertising tools to help advertisers increase the scale of their advertising and improve ROI.

These new tools include:

  • Lookalike Audiences, which combines the traits of your ideal customers with LinkedIn’s member and company data to reach new audiences similar to your existing customers.
  • Audience Templates, which provide more than 20 predefined B2B audiences with characteristics like skills, job titles, and group memberships to help you set up your targeting faster.
  • Interest Targeting With Microsoft Bing Search Data, which allows you to target people based on your audience’s professional interests on LinkedIn and according to the professional content they engage with through the Bing search engine.

Instagram

Checkout

Are you ready for some late-night impulse shopping? This month, Instagram expanded its shopping capabilities with a new Checkout feature, which lets you make purchases directly through the app. To buy products on Instagram, all you have to do is click the “checkout on Instagram” button on brands’ product posts. Once you click the checkout button, Instagram will lead you to color and sizing options before taking you to payment information. To make the checkout process even easier, you’ll only need to enter your name, email, billing information, and shipping address the first time you check out. You will also receive updates about your purchases right in the app, including shipping and delivery notifications. Brands set to roll out this feature in the coming weeks include Adidas, Burberry, H&M, Nike, Dior, Uniqlo, and with more to come. I don’t know about you, but my wallet is definitely not ready for this!


Username Changes

Have you outgrown your Instagram username? Well, now you’re in luck! Instead of having to create a whole new account, Instagram might soon let you choose a new username. The platform is currently testing a feature that would allow users to test out new usernames while keeping their old ones on reserve for 14 days — just in case you change your mind again.

Twitter

Twttr Prototype App

This month, Twitter launched its prototype app, Twttr, which they will use to test updates before officially rolling them out. Some updates currently being tested include nested replies in threads, hidden engagement statistics on tweets (like the number of likes and retweets), and the option to hide side conversations in threads. If you’d like to sign up for twttr and test out the newest features before they’re official, you can find the application for the app here.

Video Analytics

Twitter will soon debut an analytics tool that measures video engagement, called Timing is Everything. According to newsX, the tool is meant to help publishers “perform more efficiently and generate large revenue” and will show statistics like video streaming numbers and what time of day videos are getting the most views so publishers can maximize engagement and viewership. The more analytics, the better!

That’s it for now! We’ll be back next month with more social media updates. In the meantime, you can read our full Social Media Changes Report for March 2019 on AdvisorU.

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3 Tips for Capturing Captivating Images

When was the last time you tried to capture that picture perfect moment, but were left with something less than desirable staring back at you from your camera screen?

Photography is hard. It’s why we pay professionals so much money to capture and preserve major life events such as weddings, anniversaries and milestone birthdays. But for those moments when it’s just up to you and your smartphone, here are three simple ways you can capture stunning photos — without a professional.

1.Lighting

When it comes to photography, lighting is everything.

If you break out your DSLR on manual mode, you’ve got ISO, shutter speed, and aperture to worry about. But when it comes to capturing those great photos on your phone at an event, you can keep your lighting fairly simple.

First off, you’re going to want to stay away from backlighting, unless you’re going for that cool silhouette shot. Secondly, natural is best. Fluorescents and tungsten lights can cast unflattering hues on your subjects. If you can take your photos outside or near a window, you’re going to drastically improve your image quality. And finally, I encourage you to use your flash very sparingly. Not only does it tend to wash out your subjects, but unless you’ve got an external slave/master flash system, you’re probably flooding the field with too much light, giving your subjects that startled appearance.

  1. Front Facing Camera

In this selfie-filled world, it can be tempting to use your front facing camera when taking photos of yourself. But if you can master taking a selfie with your rear facing camera, you’re going to see an instant improvement in quality, texture and lighting. On most phones, rear facing cameras pack a punch with nearly double the megapixels (e.g. the iPhone 8 rear-facing camera has 12-megapixels, while the front facing camera has 7). And if you’ve opted for any of the higher end smartphones, you may even see f/1.8 aperture, giving your phone’s camera portrait capabilities. This value (the f/stop) indicates the amount of light allowed to pass through the camera. The lower the value, the more light and background blur you’re going to see in your images. To put that in perspective, some of the highest quality portrait lenses for a DSLR have an f/1.2. 

While megapixels can’t solve everything, given that phone photography doesn’t easily allow you to use different lenses, the more megapixels you have, the better the photos you will take. And though it may take you a while to get the hang of position and angels, if you can take those event selfies using your rear facing camera, you’ll be able to save and share a higher quality image.

  1. Watch your filters.

Instagram, VSCO, and built-in photo editors have made it increasingly easy to add that fun summer wash to your favourite snaps. And with the right place, right time and right platform, a filter can make your image pop or enhance your personal brand.

However, we can easily fall into the rut of using a filter as a “save all” with poor quality photos. Poor quality photos mixed with filters can results in even worse images. So if you’re watching your lighting and opting for your front facing camera, you’re going to be snapping higher quality photos that are worthy of a share before a filter even hits them.

Together, these three techniques can change the way you share photos on social media. So grab your phone, find some natural light, and get snapping!

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3 Easy Tricks to Catch Typos

Have you ever had a colleague proofread your work? It’s remarkable what a fresh set of eyes can catch—all those typos you may have missed, despite having read it over and over again.

But what if you don’t have a colleague available to proofread your work?

Taking a break and reading your work again later may help you spot errors. But what if you don’t have time?

Not to worry. I’ll show you three ways to catch typos in your own work—and quickly! Depending on how much time you have, you can apply one technique or try them all.

1.Read it backwards.

For this technique, you’ll start reading the last word in your document and work your way to the top.

When you read backwards, your brain has to focus more on each word, since they’re no longer in context. By reading the sentences out of order and context, you’re likely to notice typos, grammar issues, and sentence fragments. 

2. Read it in a different format.

Since we all learned to read on print material, it comes more naturally for us to catch errors on paper than on a screen.

So if you have access to a printer, I highly recommend printing out your work and reading it as a hardcopy. I can’t remember a time when I’ve printed out a document and didn’t find an error.

But if you don’t have a printer, that’s ok. Even just changing your on-screen setting can be an effective way to make typos jump out. Just copy and paste your work into a different program. For example, if you’ve used a Google Document, copy and paste your work into a Microsoft Word document. I’ve even copied and pasted my work into emails and Facebook messages and then sent them to myself.

3. Read it out loud.

The last technique is to read your work out loud.

When we read silently, we tend to skip over typos because we know what we meant to say and the human brain is programmed to fill in gaps. But when we read out loud, typos and other errors that we weren’t expecting to find, like run-on sentences and awkward wording, come alive.

Try these tricks out and see which one works for you. You may find that one is more effective than the other. Either way, now you’re ready to catch those typos!