It’s What You Learn, Not What You Already Know

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In our latest #decortrends chat, participants shared how continuous learning is an on-going pursuit – keeping on top of new industry trends, gaining new perspectives, obtaining time and cost saving tactics, meeting and networking with others, and more were all cited as important gains from education and training.

Our co-host @aecdaily, an expert in the field of online contractor and industrial online education, provided key questions in which chat attendees eagerly shared their insights.

Chat participants, such as @jorgensonlocker mentioned “convenience, definitely” and the 24/7 access as important reasons to choosing an online class.  Added @tonisabstyle, “The convenience, ability to get (an) overview without travel to see if you want to get more involved” are key. And while online education in general offers a myriad of choices, other educational forums, such as in person networking are still critical to business success. “Going to trade shows keeps me on top of what colors are trending in products lines,” stated @color911. Added to this sentiment by @alanfactory, “There are a lot of great online resources, but nothing beats learning from another pro in person.”

Cultivating one-on-one peer education, @pureplumbinglv has a formal apprenticeship program and this gained applause from the chat attendees, “Glad to see Apprenticeships on the rise!” mentioned @DeborahMain.

For more information on educational and training opportunities, check out AEC Daily’s offerings that provide hundreds of thousands of credits to construction professionals.

Join us weekly at #decortrends Thursdays at 11 am PST. Share, learn, and engage with like minded professionals! For other inspiring ideas, please follow us @zircontools, like us on Facebook, or visit zircon.com.

 

What’s New for Décor and Design for 2017?

Décor and design are constantly evolving. During our recent #decortrends Twitter chat, a few industry professionals shared their key insights to jumpstart their décor, design, and home improvement ideas for 2017.

“From hardware, to lighting, to plumbing fixtures, we’re huge fans of mixed metals.” – @ncontours

“We can see woods taking on a more prominent role in modern design in 2017.” – @robern

“I see #artdeco re-emerging…classic, clean, but with a sophisticated twist.” – @tonisabstyle

“Greenery is the Color of the Year.” – @jorgensonlocker

“Best Storage Solution: Organization is always a must!” – @koehlerdesigns

“Love these chats about #interiordesign and #decortrends. I always learn so, so much!!” @MsAJRogers

“A favorite trend that we now find timeless: solid bottom #storage #solutions. You can’t go wrong!” – @RevAShelf

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Join us weekly at #decortrends Thursdays at 11 am PST. Share, learn, and engage with like minded professionals!

Ten Easy Steps on How to Effectively Participate in a Twitter Chat

If you’re a Twitter regular, chances are you’ve probably noticed a hashtag reoccurring every week or every two weeks. You may have asked yourself, what makes a hashtag ebb and flow during somewhat predictable time frames? Well, it may not be a trending topic per se, but rather, a hashtag that is the central part of a Twitter chat.

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A Twitter chat is a live discussion marked by a #hashtag. As an example, #decortrends and #DIYtips are two hashtags used by @ZirconTools to identify chat tweets. By participating in a Twitter chat, you can elevate your company or brand. If you’re wondering how to join one, here are ten easy tips to get you well on your way to be an expert tweeter.

  • Sign in and set up. By making the most of your free Twitter account with a short bio, optional link to your website, and a bio image, you’ll be ready to go.
  • Find your experts. Identify and follow Twitter influencers within your industry that will help you understand which Twitter chats are most relevant for you to join.
  • Find applicable Twitter chats. You can find relevant chats by searching popular chat sites, such as Tweetchat.com. Once signed in, available “rooms” are listed and by clicking into a specific one, you can see the most recent tweets for chats of interest. Note the date and time of the chats.
  • Join the chat. There are multiple ways to log in and sign into the chat. Although all you need is a Twitter account to participate in a chat, it is often helpful to sign into Tweetchat or Twubs which are both cloud-based apps that specialize in Twitter chats. The advantage of signing into either app is that a live stream of tweets is automatically displayed for the specific chat and the hashtag is also already included.
  • Listen. Once you’re signed into a Twitter chat take a few moments to listen and view the chat dialog. By first monitoring the chat, you’ll become familiar with the chat lingo and the way the chat is orchestrated. Each chat has a host or a moderator. The host usually has the duties of posting chat questions.
  • Tweet. At the chat scheduled time, participate. It’s fine to take a step back, review, and listen to the online conversation before tweeting; however, if and when you feel compelled, jump into the conversation. Tweet questions are usually designated with a “Q” before the question number and will appear as Q1, Q2, Q3, etc. For others to see your tweets, make sure to include A1, A2, A3, etc. in your tweet and always remember to also include the chat #hashtag.
  • Share and retweet. When you find a tweet that you find particularly interesting, share the tweet or tweet directly to the person who posted the specific tweet. When you retweet, you’re acknowledging the other person’s idea and this can help build your own thought community as well.
  • Ask questions. While chatting, you may want further clarification. Often, the question is to be directed to a specific chat participant. Ensure you use the @ with the participant’s Twitter account, so the individual will know that the question is directed to him/her. Keep it brief and to the point.
  • Stay on topic. As proper chat etiquette, be focused on the chat conversation rather than straying toward commercial messages about your brand or tweeting about other topics that are not relevant to the chat.
  • Deepen the Relationship. The objective of the chat is to engage and share on-topic information related to the subject or theme. After the chat, enhance the relationship by following your new-found chat friends. Also, this will be a suitable time to expand the conversation to other topics of interest to you.

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Let’s exchange Twitter chat ideas. Please follow us @zircontools, like us on Facebook, or visit zircon.com. Interested in hosting your own Twitter Chat? Please read our blog, How to Host a Successful Twitter Chat for timely and useful tips.

Join us each Thursday at 11 am PST for #decortrends #DIYtips. Learn, share and engage.

6 Amazingly Simple Headline Tips to Transform Your Existing Content

It’s springtime, a perfect time to review what’s in your closet and see what existing pieces can make a new outfit or a new look.

The same principles apply to Content Marketing.  With a few headline changes, you can change the appearance of your content to be brand new. Much like a wardrobe has essential components, there are six distinct components to a headline. An outstanding headline should be explicit and have at least three of the six components. And, just as some outfits work better for certain occasions, some headline words and components are more optimal on diverse social platforms.

1. Emotional

The headline should include an emotional trigger word using a superlative.  Examples are amazing, humorous, electrifying, stunning, inspiring, extraordinary, and successful.  Know your audience and speak to them, carefully choosing the words that will most appeal to your target customers. For example, the word “successful” is much stronger on LinkedIn than on Facebook or Twitter.

Creating a clever headline can also appeal to the humorous side of the reader and intrigues the audience to click into the blog. One of Zircon’s most popular blogs, “A Wall is a Wall is a Wall” tells a simple headline narrative that beckons the reader to find out more.

We used the superlative, amazingly, in our headline. We could easily change it to “6 Successful Headline Tips”, or “5 Effective Headline Tips”, depending on our target audience.

2. Content

Use a word or phrase to indicate the type of content the reader should expect. A picture or video can be useful in demonstrating to the audience how a tool works; Zircon, for example, often embeds video content into a blog via our YouTube channel. Other examples of content words within a headline include charts, quotes, facts, tips and tricks, habits, warnings and mistakes.

“Tips” works well across most networks. We used the word tips in our headline.

3. Topic

Hot topics can be trending topics found on Right Relevance, Buzzsumo, Hootsuite, Buzzfeed, Twitter, Facebook and more. Within the DIY world, hot topics include the words DIY, home remodeling, tools, kitchens, bathrooms and more. Select a topic that resonates with your audience.

Our topic is content.  (The word headline in our headline is a descriptive word. The headline would work with or without it.)

4. Format

Content Format reveals the style of your content.  Ever notice the numerous examples of a “Top 5 list of” or the viral impact of a quiz or the special interest people pay to personal stories? These examples, plus research reports and how to posts work effectively throughout social media.

The number 6 is in our headline to indicate a list post.

5. Promise

What happens if the reader clicks into your headline? What can they expect? This is what the promise should deliver to the audience. Perhaps they’ll receive a how to guide in home improvement or practical tips of how to install shelving and lighting or a way to create a larger space within a smaller dwelling.

Our promise is to transform your existing content with some simple headline changes.

6. Number

The headline length makes a difference and lengthier headlines spur increased clicks. Experiment with the number of words that are ideal for your target audience.

Our headline has 10 words, not too short, but not so long that is it is not catchy.

Did our headline live up to your expectations?

What’s in your content closet that can be refreshed with a new headline?

At Zircon, we’re continuously looking for ways to help solve end user problems and communicate our solutions in the most effective manner. We would love to hear from you about your content ideas and invite you to share your marketing experiences with us. Please visit us at zircon.comlike us, or follow us.

Please join us the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month for #diytrends. Engage, learn and share. We would love to hear from you!

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Sharpen your tools with Sharon as she shares her key insights of the tool world and her impactful marketing strategies and tactics. Sharon image

Is Content Still Meaningful?

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Is the written word still viable?  In our fast-paced world that often resorts to the shortest method to communicate, from text messages to tweets, companies may question if a blog, article, or more substantial content is still relevant. Businesses do still indeed need written content – and lots of it – to continue to embrace the company’s brand followers and attract new customers. Use these helpful tips to develop your next content piece.

  • Make it content worthy. Content, in its many forms, is defined as relevant information that provides value and insight to the reader. It can take many forms, including written content for web pages, e-books, white papers, infographics, and blog article. To be valuable, how does your content solve a problem, answer a question, or inform your customers?
  • Use the E word. Engage, engage, engage. Engaging content prompts a response from the reader. Ask your customers thought provoking questions and propel discussions. Will the person reading your content find it useful enough to share, favorite, bookmark or link to your piece? If not, see how you can add or change your content piece to make it one that will propel your message by your followers and fans.
  • Ignite Your Vibe. Although the voice and style of writing depends on the type of content and platform used (i.e. e-books are more formal and social media is more laid back), many times, the same content can be used on multiple platforms. Rather than starting from scratch, subtle edits can be made to the content to make it viable for different channels. For example, the writer may want to utilize the same blog article on various social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) by posting a comment with a link back to the blog post.
  • Create or Curate? Original content, true to its name, means that the content is created by the originator. It is an original work, whether it is a blog, article, e-book or more. On the other hand, curated content can consist of third party data that the writer aggregates and make sense of, for the reader, through commentary. Another form of curated content is when a company adds an organizational perspective to existing third party content; this form is fairly common in social media.

At Zircon Corporation, the company has an extensive library of content that it continuously produces for its domestic, as well as international, audience. Content includes videos, news releases, white papers, emails, ads, web copy, packaging, merchandising, instructions, and more.

Zircon bloggers and social media experts seek to inform and engage readers via the Zircon Pro ExpertZircon in the Real World, and Zircon’s Marketing ToolBox blog sites, as well as the Zircon Facebook page and Zircon Twitter. The “How to Use” tab on Zircon’s website contains a wealth of information in the form of tips, how-to instructions and videos. If you’ve ever learned anything from these sources, we’d love to hear from you!

Sharpen your tools with Sharon as she shares her key insights of the tool world and her marketing strategies and tactics. Sharon image

The Shapes of Social Media

Social media is shaping business communication. A brand’s influence expands and contracts to the shapes of social media and a flow of new content provides companies with new ways to engage and share their brand with fans. Marketers can be, however, challenged to write content. By using the shapes of social media as your content template, you can more readily create new posts and articles.

Square

You’re at square one with a seemingly lack of content ideas. Know this: The ideas are there. Do you have a new product, service, or program to talk about? Perhaps you are challenged by an issue or would like to brainstorm? Go ahead and ask questions, write answers, query your readers, write how-to’s, provide tips, and lend ideas. Use your keyboard to talk to your readers. Let your imagination take you from Square One to a new dimension. Social media content providers also can help you with the idea generation. Hootsuite, for example, has content suggestions which are handy when you’re challenged to get started.

Inverted Triangle
Invert TriMore readily draw in new readers by using the inverted triangle approach. Start with a macro view and then continue to provide interest to your readers with specific details, ending with your product or service.

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Want help from social media influencers?  Consider cross-promoting your blog with other bloggers. Guest blogging on someone else’s site, with a link back to your own, will open up a whole new audience to your products and services. Another cross-promotion strategy is to, within your own blog, reference and link back to articles of other bloggers.

You can also form an alliance with other bloggers, thereby multiplying the comments and shares of content to each other’s content. For examples, please take a look at these popular and successful blog sites for do-it-yourself tips and techniques: Range Hoods, Inc, Saw Dust Girl, and My Fix It Up Life.

Another simple to implement hexagonal idea is to blog roll – provide a list of links on your blog sidebar to the blogs that you like and also ask other bloggers to do the same for you. Bloggers are truly a community, so consider promoting your blog via these popular places: WordPress, Medium, StackStreet, Triberr, and LinkedIn Groups.

Circle

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you need to create content, but it’s important to keep that wheel turning and the momentum going.  Repurpose your blog post and publish it to all your social media channels with catchy headlines and photos tailored for each platform. If you’ve got more than one blog, use reciprocal links with images, linking one blog to another and vice versa. Write posts for multiple platforms – one idea goes a long way. Your content was meant to be enjoyed and shared. Start posting and you’ll soon see a reciprocal effect. Zircon has four popular blog sites, Zircon’s Pro Expert, Zircon in the Real World, Zircon’s Marketing Toolbox, and Zircon Japan.

One or more of the social media shapes can help guide your content. Do you have a (different) shape that works best for you? We would love to hear from you. Join us every 1st and third Thursday, 11 am PST for our #diytrends chat, visit us at www.zircon.com, or like us on Facebook.

Sharpen your tools with Sharon as she shares her key insights of the tool world and her impactful marketing strategies and tactics. Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. Sharon image

How to Host A Successful Twitter Chat

Hosting a Twitter Chat is an excellent way to build avid followers, elevate your social media engagement, and position you and your company as an expert in your field. Once you have set up your Twitter profile, established a following, and are actively tweeting, retweeting, and replying with relevant content within the Twittersphere, take your Twitter account to the next level by hosting a Twitter Chat.

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Ten Steps to Twitter Chat Success

  • Participate. Before you host your own chat, participate in others. Take a backseat approach, familiarize yourself with the structure and see how others are doing it in your industry. To find relevant chats, comb through your news feed or search via relevant keyword hashtags and keep a log of what chats are occurring and when. Jump in. Examine how the Twitter chat works by paying special attention to how chat participants respond to each other and how the host engages with the attendees. You may also wet your feet by co-hosting, sponsoring, or being a featured guest on another party’s Twitter chat.
  • Theme. Determine your objective. Your Twitter chat theme sets the stage on how you want to be positioned in the industry and helps you identify the key components to a successful chat. Who is your target market? What days and times are most optimal to your attendees? What topics would they like to discuss versus what you want to focus on? Make sure the theme is enticing to the audience you want to attract.
  • Hashtag. Develop a concise hashtag that resonates with your audience, conveys your overall chat theme, and, ideally, is not already in use. Research existing Twitter chats to determine the optimal hashtag. Then BRAND it as your own. This hashtag reinforces your brand and can minimize the instances of Twitter chat crashers who may inadvertently attend your chat thinking it’s another.
  • Save the Date. Based on your ideal attendees, determine how often you’ll host your chat, and whether a specific date and time of day works best. Will it be weekly or bi-monthly? Will each chat be 30 minutes or 60 minutes? Does it coincide with other popular chats? Once a date and time has been determined, schedule your chats with consistency to better establish a loyal Twitter chat following. Other questions to ask are: What will be your format? Will you be the sole host or will you have co-hosts or guest hosts?
  • Schedule. With your overall theme in mind, create and schedule topics for each session to create an overall calendar. This will better enable you to flag and piggyback off key industry events, holidays, and company news. Draw from past, present, and future experiences and trends. If you’re tackling a challenging subject, consider whether it could make for a good Twitter chat topic. Chat audiences often are grappling with similar issues and your chat could provide an opportune time for both parties to brainstorm and find new solutions. Schedule your topics with your internal team.
  • Promote. Promote, promote, promote! As great as your topics are, people cannot attend your chat if they do not know about it. Promote your chat via all channels: Twitter, Facebook, and other social media networks, email, company website, blogs, and more. On Twitter, create a Twitter chat “preview” by teasing your audience with the subject theme. In addition, develop a list of top industry experts and invite them via a direct message (DM) or “@” reply. Encourage retweets of your chat invitation. To boost your promotion, create a Twitter chat invitation image that provides an overall branding for your chat with more visual appeal.
  • Plan. Once your overall schedule has been defined, it’s time to delve into the details. For each topic, draft eight to ten questions that will engage the audience. Create lively questions that illicit more than a yes/no response and can spark valuable discussions. Post your hashtag, chat image, and questions on Facebook for cross promotion.
  • Lead. Effectively host your chat by making sure that you and your audience use the #hashtag. Utilize a service, such as TweetChat, which automatically adds the hashtag and creates a running stream of the chat conversation. Keep attendees actively tweeting. Ask follow-up questions and comment positively. Reply, retweet, and favorite their tweets. Pay close attention to newcomers and those who are not tweeting as much as others. They may need a helping hand. Don’t let them sit on the Twitter chat sideline. Like a grand party, the host makes everyone feel welcome.
  • Thank. Everyone knows the phrase “time is money.” Your participants are taking a chunk out of their day to chat with you and fellow chat participants. Make sure to recognize their time and contributions. Invite them to the next chat and tweet to them often! Consistency and two-way engagement are key in developing a loyal following.
  • Assess. Analyze your chat, attendees, strength of questions and answers. TweetBinder is a handy platform that encapsulates your Twitter Chat statistics. Identify areas for improvement. Tweak your next chat as needed. Repeat these steps for each new chat.

ZirconTools hosts its own #diytrends chat every other Thursday. Catch our upcoming one on Thursday, May 21 at 11 a.m. PST. You’re invited! Learn, share and engage with us!

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What do you want to read or chat about next? Leave a comment below.

Sharpen your tools with Sharon as she shares her key insights of the tool world and her impactful marketing strategies and tactics. Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.Sharon image

What is a Blog?

Is the written word still viable?  In the social media age, how important are articles? Twitter’s 140 character platform, YouTube’s visual channel, and the creative and instantaneous nature of Instagram make marketers contemplate if traditional marketing materials still compel customers to act, buy or engage with a brand.

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Businesses still need written content – and lots of it – to continue to embrace the company’s brand followers and attract new customers.

At Zircon Corporation, you may know them as the maker of the original electronic stud finder, the company has an extensive library of content that it continuously produces for its domestic, as well as international, audience. Content includes videos, news releases, white papers, emails, ads, web copy, packaging, merchandising, instructions, and more. Each online and offline piece has a vital goal – to educate and promote the company’s vision and products. A favorite among communications specialists is the blog.

“What is a blog?” you may be asking. Well, you may not already realize it, but you’re actually reading one now! A blog is defined as a journal or website of posts that are arranged in chronological order. The author of the posts is called a blogger. A blogger may want to capture his or her thoughts in a casual basis and be able to refer to this information at a later date. Other blogs enable the blogger to capture real-time comments from customers which gives the company valuable marketing data.

Bloggers typically use an informal style of writing, as compared to when writing a news release, yet still are engaging and informative. Blogs can be light and airy or be more detailed and focused. Usually, the blog will have a distinct topic or theme that the blogger writes about. The blogger’s audience expands from other bloggers to customers, colleagues, friends or family.

Zircon bloggers tackle everyday business challenges via the Zircon Pro Expert, Zircon in the Real World, and Zircon’s Marketing ToolBox blog sites.  Check out these blogs to get an idea of what a blog is.  What topics would you like to blog or read about?  Comment on our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter and share your blog with us. We’d love to hear from you!

Sharpen your tools with Sharon as she shares her key insights of the tool world and her impactful marketing strategies and tactics.  Sharon image