Friday, October 24, 2014

Copy Cat Strut

As a blogger, I have found myself in other people's words. I have read blogs where people say exactly what's on my mind better than I could say it. I see my soul in between the words spilled out on a page like our spirits connected telepathically in an unspoken universe. But I have also seen my words, literally, my words someone else is claiming as their own reworded enough to make it legal. My ideas someone else borrowed without giving me credit. It would amaze you some of the bigger bloggers who do this. In fact, maybe it's the secret to their success, borrowing funny stuff from less famous people.

I'm not really talking about someone taking your graphic you made, and using it on their blog. I'm not talking about someone taking a paragraph of your blog post, and posting it on their blog. I'm talking legal copying. I'm talking someone taking 5 words from your tweet and putting it in a blog post like they came up with it instead of saying, "Like so and so said (with a link to so and so)..." I'm talking about when you make a graphic for someone, send it to them, and they don't say thank you. They don't use it. Instead, they design their own graphic just like yours.

While I hate being copied, I can understand why people do it. They researched copyright laws. That's why they do it.

Copyrights protect art. Your blog post is your copyright. How you expressed information and feelings is your copyright. However, facts and ideas are not copyrighted.

So for someone to take your words, word for word, and post it somewhere quoting you, giving attribution to you, and linking it to you, they can be infringing on your copyright if they didn't get your permission. You have a right to take them to court, and the judge will decide if what they did falls under fair use or not. It is subjected to a judge's opinion, and yours. It is not safe to quote someone and link to them. There is a risk to it.

However, it is perfectly safe to paraphrase someone else's words and pass it off as your own words because they are your words. What they are not is your idea, and that has no protection. In addition, people think you came up with it and it makes you look cool. It's the safest way to go. It's also the douchiest way to go. It's still plagiarism to paraphrase without revealing the source. Plagiarism is not illegal. It's just unethical.

So basically, ironically, copyright laws inspire people to steal your ideas.

If you are like me, and you don't want to be a douche, you want to give credit where credit is due because you have morals, manners, and dignity...

1. Understand Copyright Laws

First, you have Fair Use. The thing about fair use is it's subjective to opinion. The things fair use definitely covers are things like news reporting, parody, criticism, comment, nonprofit... Basically, if you quote someone's blog post, link to them, only quote a small portion of it (not the whole thing), and provide news or your opinion, or totally make fun of it.

There's also the implied license. Bloggers post blogs knowing you might print it up for personal reasons, or cite them in an education paper, or share them on social media. I mean technically speaking, sharing someone on social media can be a copyright infringement, especially if you quoted them. Think of it this way, if I quoted one of your blog posts in a blog post giving a link to your post without your permission, you might get annoyed. But if I do it on Facebook sharing from your blog, giving an excerpt I copied and pasted, you are less annoyed. It's essentially the same thing; however, because I'm quoting you, that's your copyright and it puts me at a risk, even to share it on social media (though it's not normally practiced to sue over that).

Another example is if you post something on Facebook, ANYTHING, a status or picture, it is implied that people are going to share it due to Facebook's share option being available and one of the most popular features on Facebook.

But this entire thing is a gray area. Sometimes courts rule one way, and other times they rule another way. News Aggregators are one that's been susceptible to lawsuits, and one site can wheel and deal using the content and another site doing the same thing can lose. It all depends on the judge, the defendant, and the circumstances surrounding the case.

To be safer...

2. Get Permission

When in doubt, get permission from the person you want to quote. I was really nervous about getting permission for this blog post after the fact because I was really unaware how gray this area is... I really thought I was doing the right thing here highlighting people, promoting their projects with their advice in a way that's informative to the reader, but by law, I was taking a risk. But when contacting all the people I highlighted, they were unusually awesome about it. They all got back to me within an hour of contacting them with praise and permission. Do not be afraid to pursue people. You might make a new friend.

If the person has a problem with you quoting them, then it's less unethical to plagiarize via paraphrase. That's what they get if they don't want free advertising and good SEO.

3. Put a Disclaimer on your Blog

Many professional sites have a legal page that includes the following: Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, Limited Liability, Warranty, and Copyright Permissions. Define how people can use your content in case they can't reach you, and provide a means to reach you with any questions. This is an especially good idea because we all want to be shared. That's what makes blogs bigger.

Some etiquette I try to do...

1. I cite all my inspiration. If I read your blog post, and in invokes a blog post from me, I link to you (which is good SEO and free advertising). This includes news stories that I heard about from you, even though I don't have to tell the world where I heard about the news. Sometimes it includes your writing style. I am inspired by the talent of writers such as Toni Morrison, T.S. Eliot, Nicole Knepper, Jenny Lawson, and Patti Ford. These are people who inspire me, and I frequently cite them as inspiration.

2. If I write a post and find out after the fact that you wrote one similar to it before I did, like great minds think alike, as that does happen a lot, I go and update my post to add your link with a little note explaining that I found something similar go check it out.

3. If I like something you said, like maybe your whole post, I will frequently paraphrase it, but I'll still link to you and claim it your idea. The ONLY reason I paraphrase is because if the link becomes a dead link in the future, I'll still provide my readers with the content I was referring to.

Graphic Design Note:

I've not had anyone submit to me any graphic arts to be used; however, as a graphic artist, I want my work out there. I want my work seen. I enjoy designing things, and sometimes I do them for other people like a free gift. There is no greater insult than after working 3 hours on a dumb project just to be funny for a specific blogger in mind, I give it to them, and they turn around and do a less-funny version of it to post on their blog and social media. I understand they are trying to "protect my copyright," but stealing my idea is not saint-like. After spending the time, I have more than earned a simple, "Do you care if I use it on my blog?"

We all know the people of the internet want to be entertained 24/7, and no comedian or writer is capable of producing gold that much, that often. Nobody expects that of you or anyone. Everyone borrows content from others to keep their audience entertained, but when you do, remember, they are scratching your back. They are helping you provide content. The least you can do is return the favor with a little SEO and blog pimpage.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How to Build a Strong Facebook Page: Bloggers Weigh In

The largest internet playground is full of selfies, every popular meme, every unpopular meme, blog posts, news, useless facts, pictures of food, youtube videos, stupid quizzes like "Which Disney Princess are you?" and how-to DIY crafts... And like the Energizer bunny, the content keeps going and going and going... Facebook, also known as Facesuck and Suckbook and Vaguebook, is big. It's so big, if you blog or have anything to sell, you almost can't ignore it. In fact, social media in general is the platform for new small businesses, and is the reason so many are so successful. The question is, how? How do people have a huge Facebook page? And how do they use it to help their non-Facebook interests grow?

Here's a collection of some of the best information on the internet to answer that question. This isn't black and white. It is not scientifically proven. Not all these methods will work for everyone, and it really is an art to figuring things out (with a huge hint of luck). But these gurus can guide you into understanding more about Facebook culture.


In this podcast, Michael Stelzner interviews Holly Homer of "to find out how her Facebook page fan base grew from 7,000 fans to more than 530,000 fans in only 8 months without using Facebook advertising or crazy gimmicks." I'll summarize the podcast below, but you can listen to the entire podcast if you desire.

Holly and her co-blogger Rachel set out to reach 50,000 fans on their Facebook page. At that time, they discovered a huge Facebook page was stealing their content without any credit to them, and that content was getting things like 9,000 shares. That's when Holly realized her content can go viral. People like it.

They analyzed their blog and social media, finding the top posts, what was being shared the most on social media… Things that had a possibility of going viral, and they were mostly sharing that a couple times a day. As the page started to grow, they wanted to help other people, and found content from others to share (with credit). They watched the insights and analytics for their posts and let that determine what they did again (good posts) and what they didn’t do again (low engagement posts).

The main mission is to drive traffic to the blog. The primary goal on the page is to share things related to the blog, like in her case, things to do with your kids.

She started posting more than once an hour, 24 hours, around the clock. They were also posting 2 to 4 BLOG posts a day on their blog. They only put things on Facebook they think will do well on Facebook.

Top Two Most Important Numbers to Look At On Facebook

1. Talking about number.
The talking about number is “how Facebook evaluates the health of your page.” You want a high percentage of your talking about number to your number of likes on your page.

Talking About Number / Total Number of Page Likes = Percentage

It’s more exposure to have a lot of people talking about you than a bunch of likes not talking about you. As Holly says, “To get people talking about you, you have to have people talking about you… You need comments, likes, and shares [and comments on shares]."

2. Exposure Numbers per post
She looks at the exposure number to each post and finds several posts that have a similar exposure number and tries to see how it got its exposure. Example, a post she wrote got 10 shares. Sounds like a failure, but that post actually had an exposure to 200,000 people. The success was due to people clicking through. Every action you get on a post, including click on a link, is like Facebook karma.

Some basic tips:

Use bold and all caps to provide more visually appealing summaries in the About Section.

Use a square photo because mobile and desktop Facebook favors square or landscape images.

Increase your "talking about" percentage by posting topics that are controversial on Facebook, such as artificial food color or bottle feeding.

Do not delete all the negative comments. Facebook is a place to let it all out, so give your audience their voice. Delete comments that are name-calling beyond the limits, using racial slurs and language you don't want on your site; however, just because someone rudely disagrees with you and calls you a name, that's gold. That riles up people into engaging your post.

Do not use a third party scheduler. Facebook likes Facebook.

Only post things on Facebook that do well on Facebook. “If you come across a post, and you say, “Crap I wish I had written that,” that’s something that is going to do well on your Facebook page.” Holly

⅓ their content and ⅔ other people’s content

Your night time audience is a very different audience than your day time audience. Post accordingly.

Facebook’s graph of letting you know when people are online, that’s useless. When you post something, it doesn’t show immediately to anyone. It parcels it out slowly to people, so if you post something at 10PM (peek time for moms putting kids to bed on Facebook), but most of the growth with the post won’t happen for several hours. It doesn’t matter when you post it, the important thing is to get some interaction in the first few minutes.

If you boost posts, boost the ones that are already doing well.

Post frequently. Holly has been posting at least one item to Facebook every hour, sometimes 2. Because Facebook only shows a small percentage of the fan base, even though she’s posting 26 times a day, the average fan is seeing 3 to 4 of those. They do get messages daily from people saying, “You post too much.” They direct them to the unlike button. THey won’t let 1 to 2 fans a day derail the success.

Post high quality stuff in your niche

Remember, Facebook loves Facebook. Videos on Facebook will do better on Facebook than videos from Youtube.

Locate pages with better talking about percentages than you. Facebook gives you "good karma" when sharing their posts.

When tagging pages, only tag pages with better talking about percentages than you. Never tag a page with a lower percentage than yours. 


Lisa Nolan had a Q&A with Jen Mann regarding Facebook growth. Jen Mann is a hilarious and award-winning writer. Her books are inspired by her immensely popular blog, People I Want to Punch in the Throat. She lives in Kansas with the Hubs and her two children, Gomer and Adolpha - no, those aren't their real names, their real names are actually worse. She spends her free time crafting and volunteering with the PTO. Seriously.

Jen started her blog (People I Want to Punch in the Throat) in April 2011. Jen says that in a few months time she grew to 70 regular readers. In December 2011, she wrote a post called "Overachieving Elf on the Shelf Mommies." It sat dormant for a week and then suddenly out of nowhere it went viral. Overnight she gained 26,000 followers on Facebook. Since then she's worked really hard to grow her readership every day and to keep people coming back for more.

Q: Was there a long or brief description in the FB post? And was it followed by a link to the BLOG post?

A: I usually do brief description on FB to push out my posts. A teaser to hopefully make them click. I've seen people giving a whole paragraph lately and I wonder if that is working.

Q: After you got 20,000 likes/followers, what did you post on your FB page to make your followers happy, to keep them coming back for more? 

A: CONTENT. I wanted to ride the wave for a week or so, but my husband WISELY (I'll never say that to his face though) pointed out that I needed something new for the next day and the next day and the next day and so on. I tried to write something 5x a week for the next 6 months and then I dropped down to 3x a week.

Q: Was there social interaction on your page BEFORE the viral post (post likes, comments, shares)? What about AFTER the viral post? How do you get your followers to socially interact on your FB page? 

A: Nothing before, because it didn't exist. Ever since then, yes. Definitely. I try to post a lot and on a semi-schedule so they can know it's coming. I ask questions or share pictures that they might share. I also open up the page a few times a year for them to share their small businesses, blogs, books, charities, you name it.

Q: Tell us 5 dos and 5 don'ts for FB page growth--what should bloggers do on their FB page, what should they NOT do?

A: The Dos Are: Give them something to read. Even if it's a repost, you've got someone on there who has never read it. Share. Share other things you think they'll enjoy whether it's another blogger's work or a picture or something that goes with your brand. Answer questions, comment on their comments. You don't need to comment on everyone, but I answer questions and I like a bunch of stuff. Have fun. It's your page and you can do what you want. If you're not having fun, no one is. The Don'ts Are: Don't share stuff that isn't relevant to your reader or your brand. Don't be controversial unless that's your thing and you can handle the pushback. Don't be too cocky. They put you there and they can take it away. Make sure your readers know you appreciate them.

Q: Tell us the type of content you post and share on your FB page? What's popular? A particular favorite?

A: I share my blog, other blogs, e-cards, funny stuff. The most popular are pictures (wah wah - sad trombone) followed by my blog posts.


Liza Hawkins writes for her blog (a)Musing Foodie and has a corresponding Facebook Food page. She answered in the The SITS Girls Facebook Group a question regarding Facebook posting. Reposted from Blogging As I Learn It, Liza gives you some of her best tips. 

1. Multiple posts per day (but only 10-20% of them should be about you/your blog) about things the people that like your page want to read. It takes a little time to figure that out, but one example is asking the right kind of questions:
I used to pose a question like: "What's your favorite ice cream?" No one would answer. Post reach would be low.

Then I tweaked my question: "Ice cream: CHOCOLATE {or} VANILLA?" And suddenly everyone wanted to comment with their opinion! Giving people a choice, versus asking an open ended question, makes a difference and get people interacting.

2. I also focus heavily on my "People Talking About This" number, and try to keep it above 10% at all times (although I have a goal of 50% I'd like to reach!). You can see your (or any other page's) Talking About This number by clicking on the "Likes" link.

3. Also, I've noticed that not only does it matter what kind of content you're sharing, it matters where the content comes from. Facebook's algorithm likes popular news sources, so when I share a link via HuffPo, BuzzFeed, Bon Apetit Magazine, etc., it reaches a lot larger group of people than if I share a less popular or unknown link source.

4. Similarly for tagging. If I tag another page in my comments, I get a lot more reach if that tagged page has a large "Talking About This" number. Facebook wants your posts to go viral as much as you do, so it gives weight to those posts that include potentially viral things.

5. If you schedule Facebook posts in advance (which is what I do since I work all day), make sure to only schedule them directly in Facebook. Don't use a 3rd party app for that.


I am Michelle, but I had already done some research on virality of memes for personal curiosity and blogged about it on one of my blogs. "How to Get Viral and Spread like an STD." I really suggest reading the entire article because it goes into the psychology behind the herding instinct with many links related to all aspects of virality. 

Basic Virality Concepts

  1. Viral Memes are often adopted as awesome the more people see them. They may not like it the first time they see it, but after the 5th time, they start to accept it and embrace it. This is why your newsfeed and radio station overplays the same thing over and over again. 
  2. Viral Memes are cultural. They speak of the culture they pertain to. What is famous in America isn't often famous in China, and vice versa. 
  3. Memes are timed when things relative to it happens, like Batman memes being out there right after a Batman movie is released.
  4. They should be relatable. That gets more likes and shares. This is why there are a lot of memes that say things like, "That moment when..." The only reason people like those are because it relates to them. 
For something to be viral, it has to already be viral for most of your audience. This is why people are most apt to comment on a blog post if there are already comments on your blog post. According to Psyc Central"Researchers discovered that it takes a minority of just five per cent to influence a crowd’s direction – and that the other 95 per cent follow without realizing it."
Belonging is an emotional trigger that ties in with the herding instinct. "The neurochemical oxytocin triggers a “bliss response” in the brain whenever we are engaging in social behavior," according to ASTD. Everyone wants to belong to a Tribe, and they tend to choose tribes they most relate to, that feel right.


The infamous Queen of Cussin wrote a fabulous post about how to start a blog. Considering the popularity of her Facebook Page with over a million likes, Moms Who Drink and Swear, I could not leave her out of an article about Facebook pages. Some key paragraphs from her blog post... 

"People want to be read, heard, validated – right fucking NOW. If I reply and a conversation begins, the person inevitably confesses that they are struggling with the doing part of blogging, whether it's starting one or maintaining one. Blogging is all doing, you know.
More doing. Once you have a blog, you need to “do” blogging. This means you need to write, learn, listen, read, write, share and be a part of the collaborative community that you created. You must be patient and accepting of the process as it is. A collaboration is a partnership, a relationship, and a cooperative effort.

You write, and hopefully people read. If they read something that encourages and engages them, they reply to your words, and then… you have that conversation – you do your part to build the community that you are a part of. I repeat – you are a part of the community. You may have built it, but without people to be part of it, your blog is more like a column or an online journal. Successful bloggers are collaborators, and the essence of collaboration is a give and take.
If you already are a blogger, keep doing the work. Part of that work, is understanding that you have no control over what others do or don’t do, but you do have control over the effort you make to initiate, include, engage, and accept. A community is about people, not one person being done for by other people. Stop taking so much."

This post was originally posted on The Publishing Bloggers Network. Due to the owner of that blog closing the blog, the author reposted it on her blog. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Grammar 101: How to make your nouns verb adverbly

Grammar 101

This is not a post letting all of Facebooklandia recognize the difference between their, they're and there. That's never going to happen people. They won't read about it. They don't care. You'd have a better chance making "fetch" happen.

This post is more for the bloggers who would like to write less like a blogger and more like a graduate student.

First I want to point out that the blog is supposed to be informal writing styles. It's faster to read 3rd grade level writing than it is a doctorate thesis, which is why your newspaper articles are not much more professional than your blog. Everything you could possibly want to convey in writing can be done on a simplified "for dummies" level if you fully understand what you are trying to convey.

Second, I'd like to point out that I enjoy reading grammatical errors by writers on their blogs. It adds to their style. Moms Who Drink and Swear used to write a lot of run-on sentences, and I loved it. She stopped in recent years, and I desperately miss her run-ons. I also miss her made up words that resembled a long hashtag and took a sentence of space, like getthefuckoverit.

But I understand most bloggers are discovering careers as a writer, and they would like to be published. And let's face it, people are dumb enough to believe that if you "sound" intelligent by using "big" words and proper grammar, then you must be "intelligent." But the secret is, the most intelligent people prefer the simple solution, for example, Einstein. Language's purpose is to communicate, and if you are using words too archaic for your readers to acknowledge without "looking it up," then you are not effectively communicating. Mind you, I stand alone in this logical point about the hypocrisy of mankind, so just know I'm right, but the norm is in direct opposition of it, so it doesn't matter that I'm right, kind of like it didn't matter that the earth is in fact round when the rest of the population believed it's flat.

So now that I said my peace, let's improve our grammar so we can be fancy with proper etiquette and shit (I added, "and shit" to sound gangsta and to provide some juxtaposition).

I'm a firm believer that what happens a lot in education is that we were taught the basics at a time when we couldn't fully comprehend it. The teenage years is when the brain, cognitively speaking from a neurological standpoint, develops the ability to reason in abstracts. Up until that point, the mind is very concrete, which makes for lot of, "kids say the darndest things." This is where Gosh is God's big brother, and you really actually have to try to eat your food with your mouth shut because, "Shut your mouth and eat your food." So we learned the basics of math and grammar at a time we couldn't fully understand what we were doing, and we never re-evaluated the basics now that our minds are ready to comprehend it.

So I'm taking you back to the basics, not because I think you are that stupid. You are not. I'm doing this because you will discover, hopefully at some point, some basic "aha!" now that you are not 5 years old looking at it.
Commas Save Lives Grammar 101

Sentence Structure

The two most important components of any sentence is the subject and the predicate, otherwise known as the noun and the verb. Every story is about nouns verbing. Nouns verb. That's what they do. If nouns don't verb, then nothing happened for a sentence to exist to say it as such. 

This is the most important thing to realize for sentence structure and comma placement. A subject and predicate is required to formulate a complete sentence. In addition, as a writer, you will improve your content by paying close attention to the subjects you choose, and the verbs they do.

Jim cooked dinner.
Jane ate dinner.

Jim and Jane are subjects. Cooked and Ate are verbs. Now pay attention to how these subjects and verbs are used. Pay attention like you are OCD and subjects and verbs are two different types of messes.

Avoiding Run-Ons.

A run-on usually occurs when you have two sentences, complete in thought, as one sentence without using a proper method to combine sentences. Pay attention to the subject and verbs to decide how many complete thoughts you have in a sentence. If there are more than two nouns verbing, you have to connect them legally in grammatical terms.

For instance... Jim cooked dinner. Jane ate dinner. 
Two complete thoughts. Two separate sentences.

To say, "Jim cooked dinner, Jane ate dinner" or "Jim cooked dinner and Jane ate dinner," that's a run-on because you didn't properly mesh the two sentences together.


A clause is a fragment of words that have both a subject and a verb. A sentence can be a clause, but a clause isn't necessarily a sentence. In other words, we have two types of clauses. Independent clauses. These are clauses that form a complete thought, and can stand alone as a sentence by itself. For instance, Jim cooked dinner. Dependent clauses need more words. They cannot stand alone as a sentence. For instance, Although Jim cooked dinner.... 

Combining Clauses

There are many ways to combine clauses, but I'm going to hit the most popular I see in writing, and the methods I use the most.

The semi-colon

You can combine two independent clauses with a semi-colon. Common practice suggests that the two clauses must be related.

Jim cooked dinner; Jane ate dinner. 

The conjunction

You can use a conjunction to combine clauses, and this is where things get confusing. There are two major types of conjunctions (though there are other types of conjunctions out there).

For coordinating conjunctions (and, or, but, for, nor...), look at the subject and verb. If both sides of the conjunction have a subject and verb, you use a comma before the conjunction. If not, then you don't. 


Jim cooked dinner, and Jane ate it.
Jim cooked dinner and ate it.
Jim cooked dinner and Jane ate it.
Jim cooked dinner, and ate it. 


Subject Verb COMMA conjunction Subject Verb.
Subject Verb conjunction Verb.
Subject conjunction Subject Verb.

Sentence, AND Sentence
Sentence AND Phrase

Subordinating conjunctions (after, before, since, while, when, although, even if, unless...) have a comma between two clauses when at the beginning of a sentence. If you use a subordinating conjunction in the middle of the sentence, no comma is necessary. 


After Jim cooked dinner, Jane ate it.
After Jim cooked dinner and ate it, Jane had some.
Jim cooked dinner before Jane ate it. 


Subordinating Conjunction Subject Verb COMMA Subject Verb.
Subject Verb Subordinating Conjunction Subject Verb.

Dependent Clause, Independent Clause.
Independent Clause Dependent Clause.

Now the confusion. It's fucking flipped. Let's review again...

Coordinating Conjunctions:
Subject Verb, conjunction subject verb.
Subject Verb conjunction verb.

Subordinating Conjunctions:
Subject Verb conjunction subject verb. 
Conjunction Subject Verb, Subject Verb.

In one case, we have a comma when the subject and verb are on both sides of a conjunction. In another case, we don't have that comma when subject and verb are on both sides.

I cried, but I laughed.
I cried although I laughed. 

Even if we try to decode the stuff another way... it's still contradicting...

Complete thought, complete thought. RUNON
Complete thought, conjunction that's a complete thought. CORRECT.

I spilled milk. I technically just creamed. ... Two sentences. Two independent clauses.
I spilled milk, I technically just creamed.  ... Run On Sentence when combined with comma.
I spilled milk. So I technically just creamed. ... Two sentences. Two independent clauses.
I spilled milk, so I technically just creamed. ... Not a run-on when combined with a comma.

Even if you consider something like, "And she screamed," to be a dependent clause instead of an independent one (because your English teacher told you so even though writers consider it a sentence by itself for ages and ages)...

Coordinating Conjunction: Independent Clause, Dependent Clause.
Subordinating Conjunction: Independent Clause Dependent Clause.

I spilled milk, so I technically just creamed.
I spilled milk since I technically just creamed.

So now that you know the sadism involved in grammar that causes people to misplace commas and write run-ons, maybe you can find your own way to easily decipher when to use that comma and when not to. For me, it's just a matter of understanding the difference between coordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions, and using accordingly. In my mind, if I define phrase as a group of words that cannot stand alone and a sentence as a group of words that can stand alone...

Sentence Phrase
Phrase, Sentence

and Sentence, Sentence is a run-on unless there's a coordinating conjunction separating them. 

Any other type of complex conjunctions you run into, you can almost go back to the other types to help you determine...

Whether Jim cooked dinner or not, Jane ate it. 
Jane ate the dinner whether Jim cooked dinner or not. 

Whether and Or are correlative, but their use with two independent clauses are similar to the use of subordinating conjunctions. It goes back to the sentence and phrase basics. "Whether Jim cooked dinner or not," cannot be a complete thought on its own. You need more information. So we'll consider it a phrase. "Jane ate it," now that's a complete thought. So, we'll consider that a sentence. So we have a phrase and a sentence, and that's Phrase, sentence. The next example flips it. So we have a Sentence Phrase.

Conjunctive adverbs (accordingly, also, besides, furthermore, therefore, similarly, nevertheless...) also combine two thoughts. But they can also serve a different purpose.

When combining two independent clauses, put a semi-colon before the conjunctive adverb, and a comma after it.

Jim cooked the dinner; however, Jane ate it. 

But if you are using a word like, "however," as a means to interrupt, then it's just commas.

Jim, however, cooked the dinner that Jane ate. 

And if you use it in the beginning of a sentence, use a comma after it.

Therefore, the rules of engagement are as follows... 

Remember, coordinating conjunctions are not conjunctive adverbs. You do not need a comma to start a sentence with a coordinating conjunction...

And so it begins... 

Subject and verbs

They say the best writers use less adjectives and adverbs and use better subjects and verbs.

Now let's focus on each for a second. This is my biggest flaw in writing, and something I check in particular in one round of editing. I usually don't edit my blog posts, so I confuse people.

The subject: 

Every time you write a piece, you decide the perspective. First person perspective is about I. I have done this. This happened to me. Second person perspective is about you. You did this. This happened to all of you. Third person perspective has nothing to do with you or me, but he and she. He did this. This happened to him.

It's really easy in a blog post to combine first and second person. That is the nature of the blog. I'm am me talking to you, so there's a lot of "I like to do this personally, but you can do whatever you want." It's a conversation between two perspectives. In a more professional writing environment, like a book, you usually pick one perspective and stick to it. Most APA reports, college thesis papers, and journals prefer things to be third person. Removing yourself and the reader from the equation instantly makes a piece look more graduate study worthy.

The verb:

Some verbs verbed yesterday. Some verbs will verb tomorrow. Some verbs verb currently. Some verbs are verbing later. Some verbs haven't verbed at all.

Pay attention to past, present and future tense. Pick one in a story, whether it's a paragraph reminiscing about yesteryear, or a short story about something that happened 3 days ago, and stick to it. You can write about things you are going to to tomorrow, and then mention something you did before in the middle of it, but make sure your paragraph about yesterday doesn't switch back and forth between past and present tense. It's really easy to do, at least for me. I'm thinking, "Picture it. Ten years ago. I was on the beach. I stood along the edge of the ocean feeling it breathe in and out with every wave across my toes, and BAM, a beach ball whacks me in the face." According to that, the beach ball whacks me in the face when I'm remembering it, not when it happened. I switched verb tense.

Subject and Verb:

This is my biggest flaw in writing... Make sure the subject and verb are in agreement. The three things to remember are... The one thing to remember is... 

When you throw in words in between the subject and verb, that can throw you off. Beware of it. Look for the subject--the noun that's doing the verb. The most important factor of all things is... It's tempting to say ARE because things are, but things are not the subject. Factor is the subject, and the factor is.

Now other parts of the sentence do exist. We have adjectives describing nouns, adverbs describing verbs. While subjects verb, the direct object is the one who got verbed. Prepositions relate the subject to another noun. Gerunds transform verbs into nouns. Modifiers modify elements. I am not writing a textbook on grammar in one blog post; however, you can read more about all the elements of a sentence on Chomp Chomp. Try to think about the term and how it affects the sentence. For instance, nouns verb adverbly.

When you learn a new term, or revisit one you already know, think about how you would put that in a sentence like, "nouns verb adverbly." It really puts the term's use into perspective, and that makes it easier to pick up on the rules in a way you can remember them. In addition, it makes you think about sentence structure in a manner that makes it easier to improve it. We all choose our words on purpose, but to choose your words knowing that it's a direct object that just got verbed, now that's more intentional than not knowing that.

Some quick things:

1. Never end a "phrase" or "sentence" in a preposition. 

Prepositions relate a subject to a noun, and a noun should be mentioned after the preposition.

"At Home" is a prepositional phrase...

Jim likes to Zumba at home. 
At home, Jim likes to Zumba.

When it comes to Zumba, for Jim, home is where it's at. 

Where do you go?

Where do you go to?

Where do you go to get that juice?

2. Modifiers should not dangle. 

Often times, we start sentences with modifier, and then we mention a subject and predicate. "Having no idea what to do next, Subject Verbed." A dangling modifier is when that modifier doesn't describe the subject that follows it. It must describe the subject that follows it.

Having no idea what to do next, I decided to avoid making a decision for a couple days.

Having no idea what to do next, the decision was going to have to wait. 
The decision isn't what has no idea what to do next. I am the one who has no idea what to do next.

3. Oxford commas are a preference FOR THE MOST PART. 

The old school approach to listing things is to provide a comma between every item on the list. I went to Walmart and got apples, duct tape, some rope, and lube. But these young whippersnappers of this modern era decided they were too good for that last comma before the and, and they removed it. Now it's more like, "I went to Walmart and got apples, duct tape, some rope and lube." I personally prefer the Oxford comma because sometimes I say things like, "I went to Walmart and got apples and dip, motor oil, chocolate and tampons, and some blush." I reserve the right to separate my list with commas and reserve the lack of comma before an and for related items, like chocolate and tampons are related items. Some rope and lube are not related items, or are they? That's why it was that way before these whippersnappers came in and pissed all over it. In blogging, it's your choice; however, if you are writing for something like school following a style, then you probably need to find out what that style dictates for this comma in particular.

4. Plagiarism is not professional. 

If you are trying to write for a college paper, or you are trying to get recognized in a scholarly article, plagiarism is not tolerated. In the blogging world, you see plagiarism all the time, mostly inadvertently. In reality, plagiarism is legal. Borrowing someone's words, even when quoting and citing, is a legal risk if it's not for educational purposes or other fair use. In professional articles, anything you paraphrase or quote should be cited as a source. It is better to cite sources that are more credible than you are than to pretend you came up with the idea on your own. While I can tell you that I think it's important for my baby to trust me, I sound a lot more intelligent when I say Erik Erikson's theory of cognitive development says it's important for your baby to trust you.

Hopefully I helped provide some clarity to some basic grammatical issues. I know most people are not in the mood to google and read a bunch of articles about comma usage, but I will say it is a hell of a lot more fun than googling "why is my RSS feed not working on my wordpress blog?" I say that because I'd rather read about commas than PHP, and if you are different and love to read about PHP, then you can most definitely handle reading about commas.

Let it be known that my RSS feed is not working on my wordpress blog, and I chose to write this post to procrastinate any further google searches on fixing my RSS feed.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Increasing Facebook Engagement on your Page

The SITS Girls Facebook Group had a question regarding Facebook engagement, and here are some awesome tips from one of the comments by Liza Hawkins. I actually found these to be so great of an idea that I wanted to post it as a blog post just so I can find it again.

1. Multiple posts per day (but only 10-20% of them should be about you/your blog) about things the people that like your page want to read. It takes a little time to figure that out, but one example is asking the right kind of questions:

I used to pose a question like: "What's your favorite ice cream?" No one would answer. Post reach would be low.

Then I tweaked my question: "Ice cream: CHOCOLATE {or} VANILLA?" And suddenly everyone wanted to comment with their opinion! Giving people a choice, versus asking an open ended question, makes a difference and get people interacting.

2. I also focus heavily on my "People Talking About This" number, and try to keep it above 10% at all times (although I have a goal of 50% I'd like to reach!). You can see your (or any other page's) Talking About This number by clicking on the "Likes" link.

3. Also, I've noticed that not only does it matter what kind of content you're sharing, it matters where the content comes from. Facebook's algorithm likes popular news sources, so when I share a link via HuffPo, BuzzFeed, Bon Apetit Magazine, etc., it reaches a lot larger group of people than if I share a less popular or unknown link source.

4. Similarly for tagging. If I tag another page in my comments, I get a lot more reach if that tagged page has a large "Talking About This" number. Facebook wants your posts to go viral as much as you do, so it gives weight to those posts that include potentially viral things.

5. If you schedule Facebook posts in advance (which is what I do since I work all day), make sure to only schedule them directly in Facebook. Don't use a 3rd party app for that.

Hope this helps! Liza / (a)Musing Foodie

Helpful Links:

Saturday, August 30, 2014

How to Get Viral and Spread like an STD

If only the secret of virality on the internet was known, we'd all be internet famous. But it is a phenomenon that interests me, not only from the perspective of a blogger who is trying to be known, but also from my inherent desire to understand human behavior. I totally believe we have a lot of instincts that come into play, from our savage animal side, that is lurking deep within our psyche, and all that goes away on the internet (or changes). This is why people have "computer courage," to state their opinion and verbally attack others that they would NEVER do offline. Think about your friends you know online and offline, and how different are their behaviors on the computer and off the computer?

The act of many people obsessively sharing, liking and talking about a certain meme, whether it's a video, the act of planking, or a funny some ecard, is something of a conundrum. 

Some of the most famous meme encounters include:

  • Planking where you have someone take a picture of you laying flat on your stomach in some strange place
  • The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge where you dump ice and water on your head for charity
  • Some Ecards (it can say ANYTHING and people will like and share)
  • Cereal Guy, a sarcastic stick figure eating cereal 
  • Tyrannosaurus Rex not being able to use his hands, whether for pushups or clapping
  • Willy Wonka questioning your hypocrisy 
  • Gangnam Style (a video of a song nobody knows what it means with a crazy dance and humorous satire of a common popular music video)

I mean look at these descriptions. They are odd. Random. And how, HOW could one know this would get famous? 

So I researched a bit about virality of a meme. It seems, according to empirical evidence, that virality first happens on the level of the community. For instance, the military niche shares a lot about the military not many civilians are interested in. While a meme that says, "What do I feel after shooting terrorists? Recoil," is virally famous among military members, it's not so famous in the community of mom bloggers. Some bits of content then continues to flow outside of the community into other communities. This is where you can achieve true internet fame if you are the meme. 

Some things I've noted in my research:

  1. Viral Memes are often adopted as awesome the more people see them. They may not like it the first time they see it, but after the 5th time, they start to accept it and embrace it. This is why your newsfeed and radio station overplays the same thing over and over again. 
  1. Viral Memes are cultural. They speak of the culture they pertain to. What is famous in America isn't often famous in China, and vice versa. 
  2. Memes are timed when things relative to it happens, like Batman memes being out there right after a Batman movie is released.
  1. They should be relatable. That gets more likes and shares. This is why there are a lot of memes that say things like, "That moment when..." The only reason people like those are because it relates to them. 

Top places to share your memes you create include

  • Reddit
  • Tumblr
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

My theory basically takes out all the differences between online instinct and offline instinct, and looks at the psychological instincts that hold true in both places. 

The first one is that the herding instinct takes on a new form online. The Tribal mentality often takes over and people do what they see other people doing, just because other people are doing it. This is something we do naturally offline because you want to appear normal. Things that stand out from normal are often spotted easily by a predator in cases like sheep, and the same holds true for humans. A person who parents very differently than the norm is more apt to have CPS called on them than someone who conforms to the norm, such as whatever the norm is for discipline and housekeeping. 

Take the tribal phenomenon of where you see someone post, "I have a troll on my page." Most people's reaction is to go find that page, even if you have to search it, and then read through 50 different posts to find the post that has a troll, and then jump in on the shaming of the troll. The threat against the tribe is what fuels this type of behavior. Now if someone they don't know is being attacked by a troll, their mentality is more, "I don't know why you guys are behaving this way! Let's just be at peace with each other!" This is why trolls often bring traffic to a post. They force people into taking a stance. 

Another phenomenon where this is a big deal, I noticed, is in the heat of an argument. I can simply say, in a comment arguing with someone who is NOT a bully, "You are a bully. I won't put up with it anymore. I will no longer be a victim of your cruelty..." While all the comments do not show the other person is being a bully, I bet you most of the people who read my comment will decide the person I'm speaking to is a bully just because I called him one. They don't want to read all the comments and formulate their own opinion. They take my word for it. I've seen this time and again. Sometimes it's name calling. Other times, it's the argument. I can be typing an argument about gun control, and the person arguing with me will argue me as if I was promoting gun use. Other people will jump in and argue against gun use, to me, even though nothing I said promoted gun use. It's mind boggling when that happens to you, but it's part of the herd mentality. Herding trumps logic in most cases with humans. 

Online, when we see one person do something, we form an opinion about it, one that is our own opinion. When we see 50 of our friends doing the same thing, then we want to jump in and do it just for the inclusiveness alone. There will always be a handful of outcast misfits who wish not to partake in a shenanigan just because it's mainstream. 

So for something to be viral, it has to already be viral for most of your audience. This is why people are most apt to comment on a blog post if there are already comments on your blog post. According to Psyc Central, "Researchers discovered that it takes a minority of just five per cent to influence a crowd’s direction – and that the other 95 per cent follow without realizing it."

The way around this is to create a tribal feeling to your meme, where inclusiveness is inviting, and all the cool people are doing it. If you can get two or three leaders of mutual packs to do your thing, you will go viral in that community. You also want to Position yourself (see link below) as something the cool people are doing. 

Another important aspect I've noticed in virality is the emotional appeal. In marketing, they tell you that logic can be argued, but emotions cannot. Nike did it best with Just Do It. It has a strong emotional appeal that inspires their target market well, a theme song for their target market of athletes, but it also appeals to non-athletes. You can't argue it. Even better than being against it, you want to be it. You want to be the winner of the race all of the sudden because Just Do It. 

Fear is a huge emotion that triggers our behavior; for instance, Vaccination and School Shootings are trending topics. Where you stand on any debate is often dictated by our tribes, but the debate itself is usually dictated by emotion. Politicians play this card frequently, as well as insurance companies. I don't think fear should be manipulated in order to achieve fame for moral reasons, but it does work, and there are probably posts you have made that you can spot that was fear-driven. 

Belonging is an emotional trigger that ties in with the herding instinct. "The neurochemical oxytocin triggers a “bliss response” in the brain whenever we are engaging in social behavior," according to ASTD. Everyone wants to belong to a Tribe, and they tend to choose tribes they most relate to, that feel right. In my case, I jumped head first without a parachute into the mom blogger tribes because those were definitely my people. But your memes and advertising can relate to this with things like, "Join us," and "Solidarity!"  

In addition to belonging, trend setting is an emotion you can position with your product/meme/concept. "Be Like Mike" is a perfect example of trend setting. People don't just want to belong to a group, but they also want to belong to a "Cool" group, whether it's a group of cheerleaders freaking out about a lipstick shade, or a group of nerds talking about Star Wars like it's cool. You don't have to be cool. You just have to make whatever it is you are selling sound cool. 

In the end, it doesn't matter what you do, whether you post popular pictures on your facebook page or invite discussion with compelling questions, it's how you do it. I've noticed that actions stand out more than content. People are bored on the internet, and they are always looking for something that makes them laugh or cry, but they are also looking for something to do, something that their tribe is doing. It doesn't matter if it's planking, video taping an ice bucket challenge, or creating a one liner with a specific hashtag on twitter. I think the act of doing increases the feeling of belonging. 

Now I know what you are asking... Where did you get this information? Well I'll tell you... Some of the sources where I gained this knowledge include, but are not limited to due to my memory...

Virality Prediction and Community Structure in Social Networks

A Facebook Post Is Twice As Likely To Go Viral If You Append It With The Phrase 'Please Post This'

Twitter Trends Help Researchers Forecast Viral Memes

Fear Factor: How the Herd Mentality Drives Us

What do you think? What psychological factors motivate you into sharing, liking and doing? 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Blog Hop Lessons

One of my favorite link-ups / blog hops is Finish the Sentence Friday. We don't require everyone who links up to read all the posts in the link up, but I try to. I started doing that when I co-hosted once, and I try to do that every time I link up with them.

Real quick, not the point I wanted to make but I'll make it...

Reasons I Love FTSF:

1. They get me a lot of traffic for a blog hop. 
2. They get me a lot of comments for a blog hop.
3. Their topics are easy to write, and I seem to write better posts from them that my own readership seems to like.

The point of this post... I've learned some things reading these other blogs. When I'm reading 35 blog posts in a row, on the same sentence prompt, trying to come up with a comment on each post... I figure some things out about how to improve my own writing.

1. Shorter is Better for Blog Hops

The point of any blog hop is to hop through multiple posts. They aren't just reading your post, and a long post is intimidating.

The Bloggess average post length is ideal I think for most blog posts anyway. They say that women between 20 and 30 ish prefer to read shorter things, and women over 30 tend to put more time into reading something longer. 

It's funny because a lot of news articles are short leaving out a lot of information. They tend to focus on a more narrowed scope of a major story and write multiple articles as opposed to doing one story on a major story that entails all those smaller topics. I think it should be flipped. News is the place where you want to provide all the information regarding that story that you can dig up. At least provide it in the form of links. People are always going to Google to find the whole story. 

PS I write really long posts usually. 

2. If you want people to comment on your blog, make sure your post is something they can comment about.

I think to avoid the writer's block of a comment, it would help your readers greatly if you ended every post with a question. I don't do it because I usually don't get comments. I probably don't get comments because I don't ask any questions inviting it. I'm probably going to start braving the whole asking a question nobody answers just to make it invite-able. 

3. Pictures

I don't need pictures to read a post and enjoy it, but I do like seeing faces of children and mothers. I don't post many pictures of my family because I'm thinking, "Nobody cares about us." But, when I read other blogs, I really enjoy seeing a family picture related to the post. 

4. Fonts should be easy to read

You want a boring font for the body of the post for comfort. I strain reading some of these decorative fonts. Arial and Verdana are great fonts for a blog's body. 

5. Eye-Friendly Background 

Busy backgrounds can cause eye strain, but most importantly, if you have a black background with white text, if it takes me more than 30 seconds to read what you said, and I don't blink much when I read, then your blog becomes an optical illusion, and I start seeing shit on my walls that would make Rorschach blush. If it wasn't painful, I'd probably enjoy it. 

Stare at this shit for 30 seconds and then look at the wall. They are calling you.

What are some of the things you noticed reading other blogs that you love or hate? 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Social Media on your Blog

Free To Use... Click for the Rest of the Set
If you have a blog, social media links and some form of email subscription is a blog vital; if the header is considered water to your blog, your social media is food and your subscription is sleep. You need this stuff on your blog as much as you need to name your blog.

Now providing methods of sharing your posts is totally different than this. I'm focusing on getting people to follow your profiles on various social media platforms.

Why link to your social media? 

1. Everyone else is doing it, and this is probably one of those herding mentalities that helps the species with survival as opposed to hurts it. I understand if everyone is jumping off a bridge, would you do it? Only if the water is warm, but the point is, some people herd to bully someone. This isn't anything like it. This is more like being lost in New York City trying to get to New Jersey to travel south, and after an hour using a map driving in circles around Chinatown, you finally decide the best thing to do is follow all the cars with Jersey license plates. Yes I've done that before, and it worked beautifully.

2. So people can find you again. Just assume for one glorious minute that you are one of the best bloggers on the web. You just have yet to be discovered by EVERYONE. Because you've been working hard on improving content and providing the best you have to offer, you know that when people come across your blog, most of them (not all, that's impossible) are going to fall in love with your writing. They are going to read any one post of yours and say words like, Epic. Genius. My Kind of Crazy. They want to follow you, but now what?

No one method of following someone is guaranteed you will see all their posts. Emails sometimes go to the Spam folder or some other place in the dark, dusty corners of the web. Facebook only shows your posts to 10% of your page likes if you are lucky enough to get 90% of the people to whom it shows to like, comment, or share, which is more difficult to accomplish with blog posts than any other content. Twitter's feed is old in about 5 minutes, depending on how many people a person is following. The best way to follow someone is to follow them everywhere. You may not see all their posts, but you are bound to find them again. Nobody wants to spend 5 minutes hunting you down anywhere, whether it's your contact me page or searching your name in Facebook.

3. The numbers matter when it comes to anything money, whether it's publishing or sponsorship. They say not to buy Facebook ads because your likes probably won't engage much in the future and you want loyal readers, not robotic profiles, but you know what? The Mattress Company thinking about paying you for some advertising doesn't care. Social media numbers are a vital part of your statistics.

Where do you put social media icons?

The blog norm of social media icons is to have just the icons linking to your profile somewhere in a sidebar, or the header. The sidebar should also have a place to enter an email to subscribe to your blog. The subscription button is also good to place within each post at the bottom (like Moms Who Drink and Swear does on Chicago Now), at the footer (like I do because I'm too lazy to keep typing it at the bottom of posts), and the contact me place. That is like the thing you are allowed to over-promote because the choice to subscribe is usually an impulse decision. Nobody wakes up in the morning thinking, "I need to go find some new blogs to subscribe to. I'll do that before I do the dishes."

How to Put Social Media Icons on Your Blog

In blogger, the easiest way to do it is to add an html gadget. I'm not sure how wordpress works with it, but I'm providing html how-to for you to use anywhere html is accepted.


Graphics. The F for Facebook. The Twitter bird. The Pinterest P. And anything else you decide to add. These pictures need to be uploaded to the web somewhere. You can use Flickr or Google's Picasa. To get the address, find the image, right click, and then choose "Copy Image URL." If you don't have that option, you can attempt to click the image, and then try, or find the image elsewhere and try. There's many reasons that option might not show up. Google works better than Flickr for that.

You can also get free icons from my Doodlegraphs Blog and it includes the basics as a font you can download for free. 

Profiles. It's a personal decision on what social media to focus on. Some bloggers have a profile EVERYWHERE possible. Others focus on the basics, usually Facebook and Twitter; however, some bloggers prefer Google Plus to Facebook. You will need a link to your profile. Not a link to Twitter or Facebook in general. Your profile's address.


The HTML is simple really. First you list the link the image will take you (a href), and then you list the image source, the place the internet finds the image (img src).

Target equaling blank means it will open in a new tab. You want to do this because you don't want people leaving your blog page forever. You want them to keep that open.

Alt text is text that shows up if someone's computer can't pull the image, in theory anyway.

The width and height determines the size the image will appear. You can adjust the size to your preference.

<a href="" target="_blank">

<img src="http:www.IMAGElocation.png" alt="Find me on Facebook" width="50" height="50" />


1. Copy and paste that code and enter your information where you need to.

2. Repeat code for next image and social media link. Make sure to change alt text to "Find me on Twitter" or whatever matches it.

3. You probably want all the images to be the same size for purposes of professional design.

Common Social Media:

Google Plus
RSS from Feedburner

Less Common Social Media:

Linked In
Blog Lovin

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