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On Monday, January 21st, Social Media specialists from all over the country gathered to pick up tips and tricks for maximizing Google Plus from guest expert, Annalise Kaylor (@annabelleblue).  Ms Kaylor is Director of Social Media at Intrapromote.  She built her first social network in 1992, back when 14.4 was considered fast and the “internet” was $8/hour.  She was the editor for “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pinterest Marketing” (Penguin, 2012), and speaks at many social media conferences including SXSW, SMX Social Media, SMX West, and PubCon.

What follows is a recap of Annalise Kaylor’s personal walk through of all things G+.

Q1 @annabelleblue Let’s start with the profile. What are the benefits and tips for establishing a G+ personal profile?

Annalise: Many reasons, but search integration is amongst the highest. You want spaces you control to dominate search engine results pages (SERPS).  The quality of audience is stellar, and think of Google+ as Google socialized, not a social network. For tips, definitely connect all social profiles in your G+ profile.  Also, keywords and phrases in your profile help searchers in G+ as well as via Google search itself.

Q2 @annabelleblue Communities, what are they and how can we use them?

Annalise: Communities are new; they allow you to interact with people around a topic G+ communities.  They also provide insight into target markets, inspiration for content mktg, etc.  The beauty of G+ is that you can post so easily to different groups – having a personal AND professional ID thanks to circles and communities.  Communities have been around the internet for a long time in other forms, but they work with the G+ crowd who tend to be early adopters and tech geeks.  G+ communities can be public or private, too.  My agency is vastly virtual and communities allow us to connect and share anywhere.

Q3 @annabelleblue What are some great marketing uses for Circles?

Annalise: Custom content for your elite influencers, invite-only hangouts or sneak peeks, definitely events.  Brands that do G+ circle marketing well: @MNTimberwolves , @CadburyUK , @hellokitty Use circles to identify people who interact with you across many social channels. If they do on 3 or 4; they’re your people.  Also, “What’s Hot” on G+ is algorithmically determined, so when your circles LOVE your content, take note and keep creating.

Q4 @annabelleblue Why do businesses need Pages on G+?

Annalise: SEO SEO SEO. Search and social are closer than ever and personalization is not going away anytime soon.  In particular it’s great SEO visibility for business.  Again, you want to have everything on Page 1 of the SERPs to be a digital space YOU control.

Q5 @annabelleblue What is the difference between Local and Pages?

Annalise: A G+ Page is a social profile. G+ Local ties to search results and Maps. You can MERGE the two for better SEO.  If you had a “place” page at one time, it’s now Google Local.  Merging your G+ Page with G+ Local makes your listing more dynamic and enhances your organic SEO efforts.  When I said G+ is “Google socialized,” it’s that dynamic result in SERPs that I was referring to.

Q6 @annabelleblue How do we establish Authorship & why do we need to?

Annalise: Authorship connects your original content ANYWHERE on the web to you, and G+ Authrshp provides enhanced search results like a rich snippet & aids in control of content thievery.  Your friends see you, and then when their friends connect, they see you, too.  Authorship is validity, relevance.   Authorship is not quick and easy to set up, but in the end that’s a good thing.  The best guide I’ve seen for establishing authorship is by @marktraphagen – How to Establish Google Authorship

#SocialChat BONUS

If you would like to meet and learn more from Annalise Kaylor, she will be speaking at SMX West in San Jose, CA March 11-13.  The hosts of SocialChat, Alan K’necht and Michelle Stinson Ross, are bringing all the interactive learning of SocialChat to SMX Tornonto March 18-21.  On March 18th Alan will be teaching a full day workshop on SEO with Digital Always Media partner, Jim Hedger.  On March 19th Michelle and Alan will be team teaching a full day workshop on Social Media Marketing.  They will both be presenting on the panel sessions during the conference March 20 and 21.  Early bird pricing has been extended, so don’t miss the opportunity to take your internet marketing game to the next level.

On Monday, January 28th, #SocialChat will be celebrating its 2 year anniversary with an open forum discussion of the best platforms for reaching men and women.  You don’t want to miss a moment.

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Google Sheets Basics – A Guide On How To Use Google Sheets

In this guide, we’ll teach you how to use all the essential features of Google Sheets so that you can organize your digital marketing efforts, collaborate with teammates, and more (you can even use Google Sheets for tracking with Google Tag Manager).

So let’s dive in!

🚨 Note: To use Google Sheets, you’ll need an active Google account. Make sure your account is set up before getting started!

If you already know that there’s a particular template you want to use, you can select one from the Google templates gallery. You can also create and upload your own templates as you get more familiar with Google Sheets.

You can name the sheet in the top left corner. Just like any local file on your computer, you should give this sheet an informative name that will help you find it in your Google Drive.

Convert and Import Other File Types into Google Sheets

You can simply drag-and-drop or upload files such as Excel or CSV to Google Drive, but you would then need to make a converted copy if you wanted to edit them as a Google Sheet.

To avoid converting each file manually:

2. Then, tick the box next to Convert uploaded files to Google Docs editor format. 

Now, any file added to Google Drive will now be automatically converted to Google format without filling your Drive space with copies.

A sheet copy will be created in the same folder with the same title, but with the Google Sheets file type.

Making edits in Google Sheets is really simple, and you don’t have to worry about losing data if something unexpected happens.

All changes will be saved automatically while your computer is connected to the internet, and you can even enable offline editing that will update the Cloud file once your computer reconnects to the internet.

You’ll always know how recently your edits were saved by checking the top bar. We can see here that the last save was made recently.

If you see this message, you don’t have to worry about saving.

Then, you can select any color swatch to help highlight the sheet tab at the bottom of your screen.

Navigate and Organize Data with Columns and Rows

Each sheet is just a grid of cells organized by columns and rows. Columns are labeled alphabetically, and rows are labeled numerically.

In each cell, you can input data or calculations. Each cell is labeled with an index to identify it separately from the data it contains. The cell index is a combination of the indexes of columns and rows.

For example, the cell below is indexed as B2.

A cell’s index is important for formulas and functions, which can automatically make calculations with cell data, even if that data changes (since the index will remain the same) — more on this later.

Hiding a row can be useful if you have lots of data that you need to keep but isn’t always relevant or useful. This can help you skip old data entries whenever you open the sheet if you only need to check newer data.

Grouping rows or columns can serve a similar purpose as the hiding option.

Create a Database with Google Sheets

There are two ways of inputting data into an individual cell. Simply type into the cell directly, or select the cell and type in the function field (labeled fx).

The function field is especially useful when you want to use either long strings of text or formulas.

Let’s demonstrate with some basic data for a clothing store. (I find it helpful to bold the headers across the top of each column.)

You can freeze the first row by pulling the horizontal marker down from the top left corner. You’ll know that the row is frozen because of the bold marker in between the first and second rows.

You can also add a background color to cells. This doesn’t affect the data at all, but colors can be visually helpful when reading data.

Some Useful Shortcuts, Navigation, and Selection Hotkeys

Wanna go fast? Here are some of the most common and useful shortcuts in Google Sheets:

For Mac:

For Windows:

Note that if you copy more than one cell, those cells will keep their formatting when pasted. (More on this in the Special Paste Functions section of this guide.)

As you can see, it has the same structure and format. 

If you want to paste as plain text, you can use ⌘ / Ctrl + Shift + V.

Format Data and Cells

You can adjust the data formatting of selected cells by using the Format menu. This is useful if you want to consistently present a column as currency or date, or if you want to apply dynamic colors or font effects. 

For example, let’s say that in this clothing shop’s database we want to format all prices to display as dollar values. Under Format → Number, select the Currency option to display the value in dollars and cents.

Note that you can also increase or decrease the number of decimal places in the menu bar. However, for currency, you’ll probably want to leave this at its default.

Basic Organization Features in Google Sheets Text Wrapping

In some situations, your data entries are so large that they don’t fit inside individual cells.

Sometimes you’ll just expand your column width to accommodate this, but sometimes you’ll want to keep narrower columns. In this case, you have a couple of options to make your data easier to use depending on your situation.

Overflow is pictured above, where the data string will continue past the column border into adjacent empty columns (until it runs into a column that contains data, where it will stop).

Wrap will expand the cell vertically to accommodate the data string. In other words, it will respect the column borders and continue the data string on a new line, making the entire row taller.

Special Paste Functions

As mentioned before, Google Sheets will copy both data fields and formatting by default.

As you can see, there are different ways of pasting. Some of these are relatively self explanatory. Paste values only will paste only the displayed value from the copied cell, regardless of any functions or formulas used in the copied cell.

Paste format only will paste only the formatting rules without the data, while Paste all except borders pastes, data, and all formatting that excludes cell borders (which can include line widths and colors). Finally, Paste column widths only is useful for making the grid more spatially uniform.

However, some of these paste functions are less intuitive. For example, Paste transposed will switch the columns and rows of the data.

Organize and Merge Cells

You can rearrange entire rows and columns that are already populated with data.

You can select whether you want to merge a whole block of cells both vertically and horizontally, or choose a group of cells to merge only by row or column.

Once the cells have been merged, you’ll notice that there are no more lines between them. The data is shared in that cell between rows or columns.

Google Sheets aligns numbers on the right and text on the left on its own, but you can change the alignment of the cells if you’d like.

Sort and Organize Data by Values

To analyze or summarize your data, it’s useful to be able to see it sorted by the actual data values. For example, you might want it in chronological order, or descending price order, or alphabetical order.

To do this, select the column by which you would like to sort. Then, under the Data menu, you can choose to sort either ascending or descending, and either the whole sheet or just the selected range.

So what’s the difference?

In the example below, the sheet below was sorted alphabetically by column A. This pulled the header down into the data (although you can avoid this by freezing the top row). Sorting the whole sheet is useful when you want all of your data organized in a particular way.

If you only want to sort part of your data, then you can Sort range instead of Sort sheet. This will sort only your selected range, which is useful if you have subheadings throughout your sheet for groups of related items.

Calculations and Data Analysis in Google Sheets Basic Math Operations

In Google Sheets, you can use all regular math operators in the function field: addition + , subtraction – , multiplication * , and division / .

These math operations will update the value of a cell automatically if the data in related cells changes, which makes them great for automating data like revenue totals.

To demonstrate, let’s calculate the total revenue for each product at our sample clothing store by multiplying each product’s price with the quantity sold. 

In this case, we want the final formula to read =B2*C2, using a star ( * ) as the multiplication operator. This will multiply the value in cell B2 by the value in cell C2, displaying the product in our selected formula cell E2.

This means that the formula in cell E3 will read =B3*C3, the formula in cell E4 will be =B4*C4, and so on.

💡 Top Tip: Don’t want to transpose part of the formula? Add a dollar sign ( $ ) before the column index, row index, or both to freeze that index value. For example, the formula =F2*$G$2 would transpose the F2 index when pasted to another cell, but not the G2 index.

You can combine numerical values with cell indices in your calculations.

Let’s say that you want to add a shipping cost to each order of products in a separate column. You can select the cell index for the product order total (E2) and add it to a numeric value.

Use Functions to Analyze Data

Some of the most commonly useful functions include SUM, AVERAGE, COUNT, MAX, and MIN. Once you understand how these work, you should be able to figure out how to use other functions, too.

Let’s try using the AVERAGE function for the same cells. You can select AVERAGE from the Functions menu, or you can simply type =AVERAGE(E2:E5).

The process is essentially the same for all functions — start with an equal sign and the function name, then simply use a colon to denote the range between two cells (and remember to include parentheses around the range).

💡 Top Tip: Want to use an entire column in your calculation? Use just the column index on either side of the colon. For example, to sum all values in column A, use the formula =SUM(A:A)

A small pop-up will open and there you can write your note, which can provide additional detail or context for data.

You’ll know that a cell has a note attached to it by the small black triangle that appears in the upper right corner. If you hover over that cell, the note will appear.

Under File, select Download and choose your desired format. Your browser will do the rest and present you with a file in your selected file type. Easy!

If you have a Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) domain, you will also have the option to specify sharing permissions for other users inside your group.

FAQ What are some useful shortcuts and hotkeys in Google Sheets? How can I create a database with Google Sheets?

You can input data into individual cells by typing directly or using the function field. You can format cells and columns, freeze rows, and apply various formatting options.


Facebook Discusses 4 Parts Of Their News Feed Algorithm

Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of news partnerships, and Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s head of News Feed were recently interviewed at an event where the conversation turned to the algorithm.  Adam Mosseri discussed elements of how the news feed algorithm works. He offered interesting clues as to how the algorithm chooses what feeds to promote to the top and what to keep out. They also disclosed why some sites won’t be able to game their new local news focused news feed.

1. Facebook Feed Not Biased Toward Most Popular Sites

Facebook’s new algorithm is purposely tuned to not have a bias toward the most popular news sites, like the New York Times or Fox News. A bias toward big brands can sometimes manifest when an algorithm is tuned to show content from the most popular sites.

Popularity based algorithms make sense because they tend to satisfy the most users. Google’s search algorithm can be said to be a popularity based algorithm.  The downside of showing what the most people want to see is that it doesn’t please everyone all the time. It satisfies the most users.

Satisfying the most users makes sense within the context of a search engine and the ten blue lines that make up a search page. But it makes less sense in the context of a social network like Facebook because Facebook can add extra dimensions to the popularity score and that’s what they have done. Here is the first clue about Facebook’s algorithm that was disclosed:

This isn’t a popularity contest. It’s not the publisher with the most people who trust it does the best based on this ranking score.

2. News Sites Popular with Wide Variety of Readers

It’s clear that the most popular publisher is not going to win Facebook’s feed wars. So what bias is Facebook introducing? Here is the second clue:

What we’re looking for is specifically, is publishers that are trusted by a wide variety of types of people. Specifically a wide variety of types of readers.

This is an interesting clue. If you organize people by a “wide variety of types” you’re talking about organizing them by clusters. Clusters can be based on social affinities,  activities, hobbies, jobs, schools, events, age and more.  Facebook has filed a patent related to bias, it’s called, Identifying User Biases for Search Results on Online Social Networks. Here is a relevant section:

User information may include characteristics of users such as age, income, geographic location, gender, sex, school attended, home town, nationality, language(s) spoken, etc.

I didn’t find anything about organizing users according to political bias. So I would not assume Facebook is doing that.

3. Wide Variety of Readership Makes it Difficult to Game Facebook

The news feed algorithm change is designed to prevent publishers from manipulating Facebook members in order to rank higher in the news feed.  Here is what Facebook said:

And so that by definition is much more difficult to game because you’d have to get all sorts of people from different places, points of view, etc. to weight in, in the same way. Which is I think just structurally difficult.

4. News Sources Must be Broadly Trusted

The last clue offered is about ranking. Facebook is identifying news sources that are broadly trusted but also those are that are broadly distrusted.

So it’s intentionally designed… to try and get a good sense of what is broadly trusted and what is broadly distrusted but also to be difficult to game.

There’s more to the interview about what Facebook does to prevent gaming of the news feed as well as promoting sites. Watch the interview here.

Image by Shutterstock, modified by Author

Screenshot by Author

The Continuing Evolution Of Google Maps

Google maps is synonymous with directions: it is difficult to recall a time before we’d Google Maps available at our hands and needed to find our solution for ourselves or even utilize an old-school newspaper map.

However if we think of Google Maps — the navigation, the trapped services — it’s quite often an older variant of this program that springs into mind. Google Maps has evolved, and with it are a plethora of new features that lots of users have neglected to research.

The original Google Maps

Google Maps was released in 2005, and in the intervening years has been the standard for digital mapping solutions. A year after, the technology giant came with Street View, which has been among the products most famous characteristics, and definitely it’s most contentious. Among the largest influences it had for Google was that the business no longer needed to rely on third parties because of its own information, and that is if Google Maps actually grew into something larger than was envisaged.

Apple vs. Google

The coming of Google Maps on Apple’s first iPhone in 2007 was yet another significant turning point, and also the times when Google and Apple publicly transitioned appear long past. These times they’re bona fide competitions, along with the growth of Apple Maps in 2012 was a substantial stage in electronic mapping background, also saw the close of the cooperation between both tech behemoths.

The ancient Apple Maps was successful, and the ancient version was user-unfriendly concerning bugs which present Apple CEO Tim Cook has been forced to make a public apology. These bugs were soon smoothed out, however, and now it’s very much a real rival for the distance provided that monopolized by Google Maps, and naturally is the norm all Apple products, which immediately spilled Google Maps upon the evolution of Apple Maps.

Apple Maps isn’t the only equal, as other workable third party offerings like Citymapper — that really uses the mapping information as manufactured by Google — compete to its electronic map viewers, which can be high on everybody using a smartphone. That’s a massive number of possible users, and also the basic reason why there are several different programmers battling for recognition in this lucrative area.

Microsoft got in on the action with Bing Maps, which really raised the bar in regards to these features because the now-famous upper aerial shot, enabling structures to be looked at from a 45-degree angle, for instance. Nokia is just another supplier who proceeds to build top quality maps, also sells into a range of prominent organizations, such as Garmin, whose goods are used in the sports industry, carmakers like BMW, as well as Amazon. They’re a few profitable contracts.

Also read: No Plan? Sitting Ideal…No Problem! 50+ Cool Websites To Visit

Google Maps today

As the world evolves afterward, so does the world of digital mapping, and thus does Google Maps. Among the latest improvements to this service has become the capability to guide message the companies that attribute on Google Maps, provided that they use Google’s ‘My Company’ function. The ability to talk directly with companies via instant messaging may interest many — to get a beginning it provides the chance of requiring information that’s not on the company’s site or that folks aren’t ready to phone for hold off.

Associates Home Loans Discusses How Fintech Has Changed The Mortgage Industry

Fintech innovation around digital payments reduces costs and expands access for individuals.

Have you ever heard of fintech?

Maybe not, but many people are familiar with companies like Lending Club and SoFi – two of the most successful Fintech financial services.

This article is going to discuss how Fintech has changed the mortgage industry.

#1 Fintech has made it easier for people to shop around for the best rates and terms on loans

One of the biggest problems people face when applying for a mortgage is knowing how much they’re qualified for, let alone which banks offer what rates.

What fintech has done (and continues to do) is make it easier for people to shop around for mortgages by accessing multiple offers at once.

It’s also made it easier for people to see how much money they’re qualified for by organizing the mortgage process into a series of simple questions.

#2 This increased competition is driving down prices and making mortgages more accessible to everyone

Equally important as knowing what you’re eligible for is knowing where banks are offering their best rates. Fintech has made this possible by allowing people from all over to compete for one another’s business.

This increased competition has made it so that banks aren’t just competing with the bank down the street but with lenders from around the country and around the world.

And while some argue that this is unfair to local banks, it can also be argued that it’s a good thing because it creates competition and drives down prices.

Plus, even people who are self-employed or had a bankruptcy in their past can now qualify and get a mortgage thanks to loans for self employed and bad credit home loans.

#3 Fintech companies are also innovating in other ways by bringing new products like home equity lines of credit (HELOC) or reverse mortgages into the market, which were previously unavailable options

Even though fintech has successfully brought affordable rates to consumers, there are still a number of products that have been difficult to access for people without the required credit or documentation.

But fintech has been gaining traction in new areas, such as giving consumers more access to home equity lines of credit (HELOC) and reverse mortgages.

That’s because these two loan options have largely been bank products, which means that they are only available to those who already have good credit or substantial assets.

#4 Successful startups that have made waves in this space

Some of the most successful startups in the space include Lending Club, OnDeck capital, and SoFi.

In contrast to fintech startups lending money directly to consumers, OnDeck Capital lends money specifically to small businesses.

SoFi was initially started as a social network for graduate students but created mortgages and other types of loans for graduates looking to purchase homes.

While Lending Club and OnDeck Capital remain successful companies today, SoFi has since become a traditional banking institution after going public in 2024.


All in all, Fintech has made a big impact on the mortgage industry by increasing competition between lenders and giving consumers access to more information about available products.

In the future, Fintech companies will continue to innovate and create new products that benefit consumers and the financial industry as a whole.

The Next Wave Of Google Algorithm Changes

It sounds like Google’s algorithm is going to change again, and while I don’t believe in chasing the algorithm, I do find the impacts on our industry interesting, but even more so the impact it has on user behavior.  The Wall Street Journal’s coverage of changes to Google to get people to stay on site longer to compete against Facebook may actually be a bad strategy for Google and more importantly bad for people.  The article implies Google is slowly moving to an answer engine to compete against Siri, and becoming more semantic in nature.  While I think for the end user this may be a great idea, it may actually hurt Google financially and it will be interesting to see how this evolves.

A Primary Source of Revenue

Here’s an example scenario.  Say I searched for “things to do in Toronto”.  Google’s results may include:

A list of recommended hotels.

The top 5 attractions

The population

The geographic size

Other facts about the city.

The hotel list doesn’t really change from local results, but the top 5 attractions, what impact does this have on tourism?  Instead of getting a link to a page that may be able to cover a great variety of events, and attractions, we’re now stuck with Google’s Top 5 list.  Whether we realize it or not Google is slowly turning our lives into lists, and if you’re not on the list you’re not relevant.

This is why there was a boom in local search when this was introduced.  There will be a boom again as it becomes clearer what types of lists Google will focus on.  How about entertainment? Or restaurants? Or events?  How much of a coincidence that most of these things also have clear schema’s developed?

The Impact to Your World

We know changes to the algorithm also have real world impact as there are countless stories of complaints every time the algorithm changes. Users trust Google so implicitly they don’t question if Google still deserves that trust.  As Google gets better at recommending answers and things to do, will users actually get dumber?  Will users become more homogeneous?  Google already starts to suggest what you should search for as you type, and now they display the results.

Even if Google says they see 20% of searches as new and unique, what volume actually makes up the short head?  Further is the head growing?  Or are there specific categories of searches that are growing and easily classified? I assume we’ll know as we start to see these search results show up.

Why is it a Bad Thing for Google to Keep Users on Their Site?

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