My First Podcast: An Introduction to Animal Reiki

I just finished creating my very first podcast, an introduction to animal Reiki. Please check it out at PodOmatic!

Podcast 1

In this episode, I introduce my listeners to the Japanese energy healing system of Reiki, discussing how it works and the many ways that it can benefit our animal companions. It is a gentle, non-invasive holistic healing modality that can help your animal friend return to a state of balance and wellness physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Whether you would like to help your pet maintain a state of health and well being, provide comfort to a traumatized or ill animal, or help a beloved animal friend to transition peacefully at the end of their lifetime, Reiki can help! Have a listen and find out what animal Reiki is all about.

http://healingwithnature.podomatic.com/

Finding my pod: exploring podcasts about animals

Pod of spinner dolphins

Pod of spinner dolphins

The social media marketing class I am currently taking encouraged me to take the plunge into something entirely new, the world of podcasts. I had heard the term before and had the notion that podcasts were something like a radio show that you could download and listen to on your MP3 player or computer. That was pretty much the extent of my knowledge. So when I began to explore this new (to me) aspect of social media I was amazed to discover the diversity of topics out there, from home brewing to knitting to encounters with angels.

As someone passionate about holistic healing for animals, I wondered what podcasts might be available on this subject. My search turned up three that I decided to delve into.

The podcast Animal Instinct with host, Celia Kutcher, really excited me.  Celia conducts weekly interviews with animal experts on a wide range of subjects ranging from natural remedies for pets, training, adoption, and animal communication to raising goats in your back yard and coping with pet loss & grief. The shows typically range between 30 and 45 minutes and aim to educate pet owners on how they can help their animals to live happier, healthier lives.42060

I listened to the episodes about Reiki, Bach flower remedies, and crystal healing, and found the experts interviewed to be knowledgeable and passionate about their work. I love the fact that this show is increasing awareness of these alternative healing modalities for pets that combine well with traditional allopathic medicine. The types of treatment have been very popular in the UK for decades, especially for horses, but are not as commonly known in Canada and the US. I hope that more podcasting shows such as Animal Instinct will emerge to educate and inform listeners, dispelling so of the mystery that surrounds holistic healing.

cover170x170Another podcast show that I checked out was Animal Talk: The Real Dr. Doolittle Show  with Val Heart, which also follows an interview style format. Val is an animal communicator who interviews animal experts and authors. Her show has a really fantastic range of topics. I was fascinated to listen to a talk about animal souls and reincarnation, and touched by another regarding animal abuse and ways that we can help shelter animals to heal and transition in to loving homes. Finally, I learned a lot of animal nutrition and healthy diets for companion animals in a show with Dr. Harvey Cohen. In fact, I had a hard time deciding which podcasts to check out first, and  would love to listen to all of the podcasts in the Animal Talk series. The only downside is that there haven’t been any new shows since April 2014 and it seems that it might have come to an end.

Finally, since these two podcasts were so similar in their format of interviewing experts, I decided kathleen pto listen to Animal Reiki Talk as well. Unlike the other two, this podcast show is not geared towards the public. Kathleen Prasad is a leader in the field of animal Reiki, and this show is a monthly forum for animal Reiki practitioners “to come together: connect and share stories, hear the wonderful animal Reiki work going on around the world, support each other, and ask questions. It is also a time for people interested in learning more about animal Reiki to join in and listen.” I only listened to a couple of episodes, but it seems that Kathleen usually begins the podcast by making some announcements and then the listeners are invited to ask questions and share stories about their experiences. Finally the podcast closes with an animal healing circle where Kathleen leads the listeners through a guided relaxation and everyone sends healing energy to animals in need.

In my opinion, these three podcasts are effective in educating and inspiring people, and getting the word out about the many natural and gentle ways that we can help animals to live healthier and happier lives. At the same time, it took some searching for me to track these shows down, so clearly there is a lot of room for others to add their voices and their ideas to the mix.

Using social media to ACT on my goals

In “The Zen of Social Media Marketing,” Shama Kabani presents the ACT model to describe the process of successful online marketing. The three components are:

  • Attract – to get attention or stand out and attract traffic to your website
  • Convert – to turn a stranger into a consumer or a customer
  • Transform – to transform past & present successes into magnetic forces of attraction

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As someone preparing to start up a small business, I feel that social media will be an essential tool for building my customer base. I see the value in creating and maintaining a Facebook fan page and building a following there. The page module allows me to easily share pictures, videos, and links that can all point people towards my website and blog.  I am less familiar with Google+ but discovered recently that it is also easy to set up a very similar page on there. You can choose between whether it is a store page, a brand page, or a community page. It has a slightly different layout than a Facebook page, but all of the same features from what I can see.

One advantage that Facebook currently has over Google+ for me personally is that I have already established many relationships with people on that site who would most likely “like” my page and support me as I get started. I don’t have as many connections on Google+, and some of the ones I do currently have are not very active users. Having said that, many of the people I know on Facebook are people that I “met” online and gradually developed real friendships with, so given enough time I am sure that I can do the same on Google+.

By maintaining pages on both of these social media platforms I can attract people to my website and blog, convert them into consumers and customers that utilize my services, and then transform those successes by sharing stories of satisfied customers that attract more people to my business.

best-social-media-platformAnother site that I have been getting to know a bit better recently is LinkedIn. I believe this site also has the potential to attract, convert, and transform, but in a different way. To me, LinkedIn is not about fancy layouts and eye-catching graphics and headlines, like Facebook or Google+ pages.  If a potential customer viewed my page on LinkedIn they would see my skills, education, and experience, which might attract them to my website to learn more about me. Or a person who visited LinkedIn from my website might view my profile, feel confident about my background after reading about me, and decide to try my services and become a customer. In the same way, if customers or colleagues post recommendations on my LinkedIn page, then that might transform my past successes into opportunities to attract new ones.

While I originally viewed LinkedIn as a place for job seekers to find employment opportunities, I have since realized the advantages it has for someone who is self-employed. The connections I make on LinkedIn are opportunities to network and to meet potential customers, collaborators, and mentors. I might connect with someone whom I can refer my customers to for certain services, and they can refer their customers to me for others. By joining groups on LinkedIn I can meet people in my line of work and gain knowledge about how they create success for themselves.

I am someone who loves to continually learn, grow, and educate myself. By viewing some profiles of people in my area of work, I have already found a few courses that sound really interesting to me, so by looking at the education that others have taken I am gaining ideas for additional training that I might like to pursue. This has got me feeling very excited!

I am grateful for what I have recently learned through exploring Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn, and feel that all three social media platforms have much potential to help me to meet my goals and develop myself both personally and professionally.

Reflections on creating a LinkedIn profile

I created a LinkedIn profile about 3 years ago at the encouragement of one of my friends. She raved about finding job opportunities and connecting with people in her industry through the site, giving me a few tips for what to put on my profile. So I set up an account, added some of my colleagues, friends (and members of my knitting group) and that was about it.

When the social media course I am presently taking required that I get reacquainted with LinkedIn I wasn’t sure what value I might get from it. I took a look at my current profile and I realized that the focus I want to take now in my career is related to but different from my past/current employment history.

I decided to start over a create a brand new profile focusing on my self-employment, and to showcase the extensive training and experience I have worked hard on in the last 2 years. I realize it may be confusing having an “employed me” profile and a “self-employed me” profile once I fully launch my social media marketing campaign to promote my new business, so at thatLINKEDIN-or-left-behind time I may delete the old profile. In the meantime, I have asked a lot of my connections to also connect with me on my new one so I don’t lose them. Why didn’t I just change the old profile? There are some connections that I currently work with whom I would rather not alter to my new direction at this time.

Building my new profile was an interesting experience because, like I said above, I have completed a lot of training but am slowly building my experience and applying my new skills. Therefore I added a lot of similar-sounding skills (along the lines of using keywords). I may reassess this later and see how valuable it is. Some people in my line of work only have about 10 skills listed while others have up to 45.

I decided to join some groups for the first time, and this has had some immediate benefits. I found another woman in a group I joined who has similar skills to me, and invited her to connect. She accepted my invitation and after viewing her full profile we have even more in common that I realized! We have exchanged a few very positive emails since then. I feel I have made a valuable new contact that I can network with, and exchange services with, as well as share ideas. I am grateful for this experience and look forward to connecting with others in my industry.

As well, when browsing the internet tonight for news related to my area of work, I found a great article. I decided to share it, and for the first time noticed one of the many sharing icons was a LinkedIn badge. I had never used this feature before, but realized quickly that this would allow me to share relevant information with my LinkedIn connections and promote the area of work that I do. Awesome! I also shared the article with one of the groups I recently joined, in hopes that we can have a discussion about it.

So I feel very grateful that my eyes have been opened to the potential value of LinkedIn for networking, and in the long term, establishing myself as a credible and skilled practitioner.

As a note to my fellow ADL310 students, I searched for everyone and sent invitations to connect with all of you. I look forward to following your posts and celebrating your successes with you, even after this course is complete! I welcome your feedback on ways that I can improve my profile, and any other suggestions you might have for me! I am happy to offer the same but only if asked. 😉

Rediscovering Google+ and why it’s worth exploring

I was one of the early folks to join Google+ when it launched back in 2011.  I connected with a few people I knew from Facebook, uploaded some photos, and shared a few posts with my “circles”. Not many of my friends were using this social media platform at the time, and after a while I got bored since there were hardly any new posts to view. Since I only wanted to interact with people I knew, I essentially stopped using Google+ in favour of Facebook, where I have had an account since 2007.

So when I was tasked with getting to know Google+ again as part of my activities for ADL310, FacebookGooglethe social media course I am currently taking, it took a bit of pondering but I remembered my password and logged myself in. Well hello, Google+, you have sure changed in 3 years!

One of the things I like about Google+ is that you can sort how you view things very easily. While Facebook only has one option for how the news feed looks, in Google+  I can have the same one-column continuous scroll as Facebook or I can change my “stream” to a staggered layout of boxes. The latter took a bit of time to get used too, but now I really like this layout. It reminds me a bit on Pinterest, and allows me to scan through a lot of posts in a non-linear (right-brained) fashion.

I also like that I can click on the tabs at the top of the Google+ site to easily view posts from friends, family, acquaintances, or people I follow.  It’s simple to sort new connections into categories. This is an option that exists on Facebook but I didn’t realize it until I checked to see if it had something similar. On Facebook there is a tab on the left side of my news feed that allows me to click on posts from family or close friends, as well as pages I have “liked”. I will have to get to know this feature better on Facebook before I can really comment on it, but I do find the Google+ navigation and layout more appealing so far.

The concept of sorting your contacts into circles in interesting. Not having logged on to my Google+ account in years, I was surprised to see that a few strangers have added me to their circles, which means they will see any public posts that I make.  If my intention were simply to connect and share with people I already know, this would not be a useful feature for me, but once I start promoting my new business on the site I will already have a few followers that will see my posts. Facebook recently added the “subscribers” feature, which does the same thing, but I do not currently have any subscribers.

What I found interesting over the last few days is that in exploring Google+ I found many features that I really like, and then realized that Facebook has something comparable in most cases, which I either wasn’t aware of or hadn’t used before. So dare I say that, from my perspective, Google+ seems to be doing the same things as Facebook but doing them better?

google-plus-vs-facebook-logoOne of the drawbacks is that many of my current friends and contacts seem quite happy to use Facebook as their main social media site and most of them still do not have a Google+ account. I read somewhere recently (it may have been in the ADL310 textbook) that you should post different things on your social media profiles to make sure your followers aren’t bored by seeing the same posts. I can see that point, if you have savvy customers/followers that participate in several social media platforms.

In my case, I think it makes more sense to post the same material to all of my various social media sites, and let people follow me on the site that they prefer. Some will prefer Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  Some will subscribe to my YouTube channel and watch videos directly on the site, while others will simply watch the videos embedded on my blog posts or Facebook page. I think it’s best to give people options.

If I wanted to increase my following on one of these platforms, I could always create an incentive for my followers from other sites to join me there. For example, I could ask my Facebook fans to follow my page on Google+ and offer them a free eBook or report if they do.

My experience to date with both Google+ and Facebook has been purely as someone looking to connect with and stay up to date with friends and family. As I begin to learn how to use these sites  for social media marketing and promoting my business, I am sure it will be an interesting journey with plenty of new experiences. I am excited to be back using Google+ and hope that more people will connect with me there in the months ahead.

Help, I’m being followed! Now what?

I logged on to my Twitter account today and was surprised to see that in a couple of short weeks I have gained 69 followers on Twitter (and none of them are members of my family!). I’m having some great conversations with people and discovering a lot of valuable information. So I started to wonder, now what? How do I keep the momentum going and build some quality relationships? Here are some of the helpful answers that I came across.

John Paul Aguiar has over 100,000 followers (a tad more than my 69), and he offers this great straightforward advice:siguenos-twitter

  • Follow the right people
  • Connect and engage
  • Share great stuff
  • Be available
  • Say thank you

Even if you share good quality information on Twitter regularly, if all you do is make posts you won’t receive a lot of comments or retweets. Making time to interact with your followers and build a sense of real community is vital.

In addition to knowing what to do, Jennifer Hanford shares some helpful insight into what not to do. Be sure that you don’t:

  • Overtly boast or show off about having “so many” followers.
  • Try too hard to engage
  • Stress out
  • Blast sales messages and/or spam your followers
  • Make your content all about you, all the time
  • Become complacent
  • Follow people back just because they followed you
  • Obsess over how many followers you have

Some valuable information also comes from Derek Halpern, who summarized the findings of a research study exploring what people like to read on Twitter. Some of key things that they don’t like are: octopus-final

  • Cryptic tweets
  • Repeating old news
  • Using too many # and @ signs
  • Just links without commentary
  • Boring tweets

Derek recommends that to hold your readers’ interest it is important to:

  • Be funny and witty
  • Create curiosity
  • Be interesting

Armed with these tips, I am am confident that I will continue to create a great network on social media and develop mutually beneficial relationships with my followers.

Why Learn Social Media Marketing from a Book?

In my ADL310 course on social media marketing we were assigned a textbook to read as part of our homework.  Why choose a textbook when social media itself can teach us the basics? There are blogs on WordPress telling us how to use WordPress; tweets on Twitter with links to articles about using Twitter, and I’m willing to bet I could find a Facebook page telling me the best way to create a page on Facebook. So what is the usefulness of a text on social media?

Recently I have come across numerous helpful articles online with tips on how to use social media marketing effectively, from creating great blog content, using Pinterest for marketing, mistakes to avoid on Linked In, and even the best time of day to tweet. The majority of these articles are blog posts between 500 and 2,500 words, and they are designed to catch your attention, give you a handful of helpful ideas or interesting facts, and then send you on to the next article in the blog. These posts are short and to the point, exposing you to a lot of ideas in a brief amount of time.

If you want to drill deeper into some of these concepts though, something more detailed is required. A text on social media marketing allows the reader to expand their knowledge and really get comfortable with a particular aspect of social media, whether they want to learn how to improve the design of their website, write a e-book, or use a specif platform like Google+ more effectively.

In ADL310 our required reading is The Zen of Social Media Marketing, named one of the top 10 best social media marketing books of 2013. In my opinion Shama Kabani’s book is a great guide to social media marketing for beginners and those looking to learn more, with easy to follow advicethe-zen-of-social-media and helpful insights. Her suggestions were easy for me to grasp and implement right away. I have gained confidence quickly and already seen positive results from following her advice.

Wouldn’t books on social media marketing become outdated in a short amount of time though, as trends shift and social media platforms evolve and emerge? Sure, some books might not have as much impact 2-3 years after their publishing date, but others such as Shama’ Kabani’s book have been updated with new information and re-released as a new edition.

In fact, seeing the value in her book has lead me to follow her on Twitter as well. Not only have I learned from the information published in her book, but I can continue to learn from Shama through social media itself by reading her tweets. So a great social media marketing book can also lead us to a great social media marketing mentor.

To discover some more fantastic books on social media marketing, check out these 17 social media books that will make you a better marketer.