How to Get More Followers on Pinterest

Pinterest is the fastest growing social media site that has received wide attention largely due to its unique photo pinning attribute. Before the release of Pinterest, most social media sites were designed with multiple features including voice and video chatting, status updating, and developer apps. However, Pinterest is designed to pin interesting photographs on a pin board. This simple idea really clicked, and today after the one year of release of Pinterest, it has got more than 4 million daily visitors with the highest referral traffic rate of 10%.

Referral traffic means that among the total number of Pinterest users, users will click on the link connected with the photograph at a high rate which can help drive traffic to a  particular website or a blog. This phenomenon may be due to the level of curiousness photos placed on the users. Whatever might be the case, Pinterest  has the ability to bring hundreds and thousands of visitors to your company website or blog.

The following are some very effective ways to get more traffic on Pinterest which could ultimately shift traffic to your business website or blog.

board

Pinterest Boards

Whenever anyone visits Pinterest, the first line of sight is on the Pinterest Boards. Pinterest boards should be organized to show case your pins by category while showing one picture per link or video. You can create different boards based on relevant topics and upload relevant photographs or videos from your website or to items you want to share and promote.

In order to get the attention of Pinterest users, it is important that you organize the headings to each board, upload an appealing cover photo for the board, and constantly update. Remember, your goal is to catch the attention of visitors, so they will stay on your Pinterest page and become repeat visitors for your niche.

Pin Interesting Photos

Pinterest is all about of photos as well as video. Most importantly, you want to pin photos relevant to your area of business, blog, or website. Pinterest has proven that users prefer photos over written content to attract entry onto a site. Therefore, your photos should completely convey the intended idea to your visitors. Your preference should be to produce original quality content and couple it with relevant photos from others while giving them fair credits when necessary.

Link your Pinterest with Twitter and Facebook

Linking or synchronizing your Pinterest boards with Twitter and Facebook will further enhance your ability to attract traffic to your website or blog. Connecting your other social media accounts can automatically update your Facebook and Twitter with interesting photographs pinned on your Pinterest boards. Once you are connected, pinning photos in the Pinterest will automatically publish photos in Twitter and Facebook. Simultaneously, you will have the ability to capture the attention of your existing fans and followers. For information on integrating Facebook and Twitter, click here.

Make good use of  Tags and Hashtags

Tag and hashtags are great options to increase the fan base on social media networks including Pinterest. A Tag is using an (@) sign to people who have an interest in your topics or who may be mentioned in the written content. Tag whenever you upload relevant photos and videos which will automatically make notification when published to Facebook and Twitter after implementing integration. However, do not overuse it because overuse may begin to annoy people. Similarly, proper use of hashtags (#) can bring loads of traffic from the search engines and others who may be monitoring specific hashtags for resources and information.

Add Follow me button

Although you may enjoy pinning, the broader aim is to shift Pinterest traffic to your main website or blog. Therefore, it is important that you should make proper use of available tools and widgets provided by the top social networking sites. One simple solution is to add  the Pinterest “follow me” button to your blog or website which will make website visitors aware that you are on Pinterest and encourage them to check out your boards.

Happy Pinning!

Editor’s Note: This entry was written by one of our members and submitted to our Helpers section. The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of Social Work Helper Magazine.

How to Incorporate Google Places and Virtual 360 Tours to Promote Your Business

In a competitive market, small businesses are always looking for creative ways to give them an edge with consumers. Google has devised two services that businesses should immediately take advantage of in order to help drive traffic to their websites and physical locations. Any business with a physical office space can easily add their location to Google Places at no cost which also integrates with ease to other free Google services such as Google Plus Business Pages and Google Maps.

Google experts suggests that businesses registered with Google services are ranked in search results higher than unregistered businesses. For a more established business that may not have registered, Google also offers the ability for businesses to claim their Google maps listing to encourage them to register for Google Places and create a Google Plus Business Page. Once you have successfully added your business to Google, you may be interested in adding Google’s Virtual 360 Tours to help you stand out even further in search results.

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview private practice therapist E. Kelly from Norwalk, Connecticut. She shares her experience in implementing a virtual tour to help engage potential clients to choose her practice, and here is our discussion.

SWH: Tell us a bit about your background and your practice? 

EK: I am a Connecticut licensed marriage and family therapist in a private practice.  I achieved a Masters Degree is in Marriage and Family Therapy from Fairfield University in Connecticut.  My undergraduate B.A. degree is from Hunter College in NYC with a concentration in biology and psychology.

As both an intern and extern, I worked within many not for profit organizations.  I learned a lot about myself during that time which fostered strong desire for independence and continuing to create my own vision of helping and healing. I had done it with my past career and was determined to do it again which led me to take a  leap of faith in creating my own private practice.

SWH: How are you using technology to market and promote your practice?

E. Kelly, LMFT Norwalk CT - Google SearchEK: In my early days of private practice, I paid money to a well known host of a commercial therapy website provider.  They were and still are the most well known. I do not regret hiring them then as their template was helpful and many clients suggested that they chose me because of the exposure and the professionalism of such site.

However, it is a monthly fee and once you are established and/or have enough notoriety in your local area, you can create your own site for less than a third of the monthly cost.  After a few years of such hosting costs, I decided to again take a risk and hire someone to  create my own unique site.

I googled a local restaurant in my area because I was never there, and I saw the restaurant had an option to see inside. I quickly learned how to take a virtual tour. I never been to the restaurant, but  I loved looking around to imagine my experience there – and, yes, It was indeed just perfect for my needs. It was then, at that very moment that it dawned on me:

If patrons of restaurants want to see where they may intimately dine…THEN why wouldn’t chance to LOOK and SEE a practice area where they are going to share an intimate story?

I thought about it for a while, and I searched more local sites to see what was happening.  I saw interior shots of dentists offices, retail shops, dog groomers, hair salons, automobile shops, etc. and, I thought WHY am I waiting to show clients my space?

Really, why not give my clients a chance to see my space too?  After all, I proudly created a space with lots of light and one that was conducive to positive thinking – so, if the GOOGLE guy could do a tour of MY space – well, maybe, just maybe – it’s the best way for potential clients to decide if they like my space tool

SWH: How difficult was implementing Google Places and the Virtual 360 Tours?

EK: Not hard at all. I search for Google certified photographers who did Virtual 360 Tours.  Buyer beware,  if they aren’t listed by Google, they are not approved. It’s that simple, and you can also use this link to find a certified Google Photographer in your city.

Prices may vary, but total cost to me was $500.  Once you purchase the shoot, you have the right to use it in any promotional material you want including your own website and/or social pages as you own the rights to all photos.

This is a service that Google offers 24 hours a day/7 days a week at no cost. No click charges, no monthly charges, no annual charges.

AND, if you want to see my tour – GOOGLE THIS “E. Kelly, LMFT Norwalk CT” and see how Virtual 360 Tours work.

E. Kelly Therapy Virtual 360 Tour

Digital Divide Continues to Widen in South Carolina

by Vilissa K. Thompson, LMSW

If you’ve seen the movie Beautiful Creatures set in South Carolina, one might believe South Carolinians might not be very tech savvy when it comes to technology. Jeremy Iron’s character, Macon, often tells the towns people to “Google It” when he is quoting historical data. Most of the youth were ready to head to the big city to get out of there.

According to the latest data released, Beautiful Creatures, may not be that far off from its depiction of the diamond state as the digital divide continues to widen. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s data, over 21% of South Carolinians do not have personal computers in the home, and for residents  who do have home computers, almost 16% do not have internet access.

South Carolina ranks near the bottom in the nation when it comes this circumstance; only Mississippi and New Mexico lagged behind South Carolina in the Census findings.

As a fellow South Carolinian, I wish that the Census data surprised me, but sadly, it does not.  Living in a rural area of South Carolina has afforded me the “opportunity” to see firsthand how damaging the digital gap is economically, educationally, and socially.  If you do not have your own computer and internet access at home, have arrangements with someone to use their computer or internet connection, or have transportation to visit the local library or technology center, then you will be left behind in the digital age.  Luckily where I live, we do have a newly renovated public library that has close to 20 computers available for residents to utilize.  However, given the mass closings of public libraries due to lack of funding over the past couple of years, this vital resource no longer exists in areas that may have high percentages of residents without computers or internet access in their homes.

An interesting statement that the head librarian made in the local news report struck a nerve with me and caused me write this post:  ”The digital divide will slowly become the knowledge divide.”  Her statement is already coming to life, given that everything we do, from taking courses, shopping, telecommuting for work, creating and managing businesses, finding love and companionship, are being done on the world wide web.  If you do not have reliable equipment and access to the internet, how will you be able to keep up with those around you who do?  How will you familiarize yourself with the new advances in technology that supposedly make our lives “easier” and more “efficient?”

I believe that it is imperative for citizens and professionals who work in our communities to become more vocal and proactive about the dire need for everyone to have access to the internet, whether it is in their own homes, or being able to visit establishments such as public libraries and technology centers.  If we are on the road to becoming a digital society, then full inclusion needs to be a priority so that everyone will have an equal and fair opportunity to participate.  Technology is not a luxury; it is a necessity in order to function and relate to each other.

What can you do to shrink this growing gap in your state?  Take a closer look at what resources are available (or not) in your community:  what agencies/organizations are present that will allow people to obtain new or used computers for personal use; help when it comes to financing the costs of purchasing, installing, and maintaining computer equipment and internet connection in their homes; and where can people go to access computers and the internet for free?  Once the analysis has been completed, then the next course of action would be to contact your local and state legislators about the gaps prevalent in your community in regards to the availability (and/or lack thereof) of resources, and how those gaps are negatively impacting the lives of residents, as well as the economic, educational, and social statuses of your area.  Without the call for advocacy and hopefully program/institution creations and policy changes, then the digital divide will become the new “haves” and “have nots” predicament.

Advances in computer technology and the Internet have changed the way America works, learns, and communicates. The Internet has become an integral part of America’s economic, political, and social life

Bill Clinton

(Featured image:  Courtesy of pirath-davie.blogpost.com)

Social Media: What is Your New Media Literacy Score

Social Media and other digital technologies are becoming so ubiquitous in our society as people everywhere seem to have smartphones, tablets, or some type of web-enabled device. This constant contact with the Internet and seemingly endless connectivity has many asking if this is good or bad. Social workers have also taken notice as our profession has been impacted by many technological innovations over the last several decades. However, with the pervasive expansion of recent digital media and the challenges associated with it, some argue that social workers should simply un-plug, or opt for a just say no policy in regards to social media. The same challenges in exist in social work education and although there are some great educators using technology to positively impact the profession, questions remain as to how to move forward.

Digital Media Skills slideI have been looking into one of these issues for the last several years.  The literature uses the term Information Communication Technology Literacy, but I like to use the term from Media Studies scholar Henry Jenkins New Media Literacies. Dr. Jenkins has been writing about participatory culture for the last twenty years and has discovered what he calls the New Media Literacies, 12 essential skills that individuals need to be successful in our culture today. The main point about New Media Literacy is for consumers of digital media to think critically about what it is they are consuming.  I have written more about the New Media Literacies, Participatory Culture, and Social work on my blog at

I think that New Media Literacies help us as social workers to further understand the place of social media in our lives. The framework of New Media Literacy can help social work educators to use digital media in a way that builds the knowledge of our students and empowers them to use these tools in more positive ways. There are many challenges related to digital media, and I do not wish to minimize those challenges, in stead I am working to help further develop the original idea of Information Communication Technology Literacy by moving it from some archaic idea that lacks a clear definition to a set of actual skills that can be utilized in and out of the classroom.

The way I operationalize this is to use the New Media Literacies framework and a survey developed by Iona Literat, one of Henry Jenkin’s doctoral students at the University of Southern California. I have taken the survey, which provides the user with a New Media Literacy score, and adapted it for use within social work education. I plan to compare the New Media Literacy scores of social work students with that of social work educators to demonstrate the need for increasing our digital media literacy. I invite you to take the survey, which can be found on my blog and also to leave any comments or questions you may have.

Photo Credit: http://www.american.edu/soc/film/degrees/digital-certificate-description.cfm

Social Work and Technology: Fails in Teaching Technology to Students

Social work and technology received a failing grade as a result of a National Institute of Health (NIH) study. The study makes a strong argument in a 2011 journal article which suggests that it’s a violation of the social work code of ethics for social workers who fail to institute evidence based technologies within their practice.

The article also points out how social work professional and educational bodies have not incorporated technology based learning to prepare social workers beyond the use of email communications.

In order for social workers to be competitive in the marketplace, social work and technology must be incorporated into social work education. Nonprofits, public services, and other grassroots organizations are increasingly relying on analytics software, constituent management systems, and social media in order to be more efficient in providing services and information.

The bachelors level or graduate level social work programs do not offer any courses specific to social work and technology. Some academics would argue that social work students are resistant when professors try to include new technologies in existing social work courses. Additionally, academics who want to conduct research on social work and technology are discouraged because published studies tend to be more clinical in nature.

Do you have a passion for social work and technology, and how it can be better used to enhance social work practice? Are you interested in testing theories and experimenting with new technologies to help identify tools for enhancement learning and practice?  Then, let us start an open dialogue. I am interested in hearing your thoughts on whether social work and technology should be a higher priority within the profession.

Here is an excerpt from the NIH study exposing areas for improvement within the profession:

Despite this interest in technology, the attention that the field of social work has given to ICTs (Information and Communications Technology) in research, education, and practice does not match the efforts of other national and international organizations that view ICTs as critical to improving the lives of disadvantaged and disenfranchised persons, and necessary for all forms of civil engagement. The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) calls for the integration of computer technology into social work education, but there are no explicit standards for integration or student learning (CSWE, 2008; see also Beaulaurier & Radisch, 2005). Asking other social workers, social work students, and social work educators can easily reveal that many are unaware of the NASW technology standards. A review of syllabi of social work courses will also show that ICTs, beyond e-mail communication, are generally not present in the educational environment. Consequently, social work students are not being adequately prepared in the use of ICTs, which are integral in the workforce today and will become even more important over time (Parrot & Madoc-Jones, 2008).

In this paper, we argue that ICTs are of critical importance to advancing the field of social work. Specifically, they provide efficient and effective ways for organizing people and ideas, offers greater access to knowledge and education, and increases the efficiency and collaboration of our work. This paper takes the position that many aspects of the NASW Code of Ethics (1999) can be advanced through careful and thoughtful application of ICTs. Thus, competencies with ICTs and ICT literacy should be required learning outcomes in social work education and continuing education. This includes having the knowledge and skills to understand and use ICTs to acheive a specific purpose (i.e., competencies), in addition to knowing the major concepts and language associated with ICT (i.e., literacy). Within this framework, this paper identifies specific aspects of the Code of Ethics (1999), showing how ICTs play a critical role in achieving the desired values and principles. Recommendations on how ICTs can be more strategically incorporated in the classroom, along with potential pitfalls, are discussed.

View Full Journal Article below:
https://swhelper.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/nihms-299321.pdf

Social Work and Social Media: Tools for Networking and E-Advocacy

There are lots of resources for individuals who are concerned about the fears and ethical use of social media in practice. However, there does not seem to be an equal amount of resources teaching social work and social media, and how they both can be combined for effective networking and online advocacy.

Technology has given us the ability to remove geographically boundaries and connect with others in way that is still very new to us.  However, this same technology has been exploited by the criminal element which has created many fears in using technology for its full capabilities.

Technology has the ability to create new ways of communication that has been previously denied to those without privilege or wealth such as the ability to self-publish, communication with someone abroad in real-time, and gather/organize resources quickly. How can our profession begin to adopt the technological tools utilized in the business world and adapt them to increase our ability to be more effective on the macro, mezzo, and micro practice levels?

There are instances where social work and social media, depending on your job descriptions and direct practice with clients, must adhere to a stricter standard due to safety concerns for the social worker and client confidentiality.

For those who are working on a policy and community practice level, social work and social media is essential in carving yourself as an expert in your field as well giving you the ability to mobilize resources quickly. NASW-NC gives five reasons why social work and social media is an essential combination to aid social workers in their networking potential which are listed below:

  • Opportunity: Anytime you are around others (virtually or in person), you have the opportunity to meet people and uncover what they make have to offer to your life!
  • Exposure: Have you written new research? Starting a new practice? Found a new technique to share? Networking provides the opportunity to expose others to the wealth of professional knowledge you have, and to be exposed to theirs!
  • Contacts and Relationships: Whether finding a new job, a resource for your clients, or simply someone who simplifies your life; contacts are an essential part of the social work profession. Most business is done through referrals!
  • Finding Common Ground: Everyone enjoys the company of others who are like-minded. Our common interests help ignite our passion for the profession and encourage personal growth.
  • Learning: In the line for breakfast at a NASW-NC Conference, or answering a post on LinkedIn; social workers who participate in networking gather information and ideas at a fast pace! knowledge is power!
  • See more at:

[gview file=”http://careers.socialworkers.org/documents/networking.pdf”]

Also View:
E-Politics.com Online Advocacy

photo credit: Intersection Consulting via photopin cc

Top 5 Best Mobile Apps for Social Work Students

mobile-app-download

I will be sharing with you the top 5 best mobile apps that will hopefully make your life easier as a social work student. Why not start off the semester with a better system to help keep you organized? I have identified 5 mobile apps that will serve you well in the classroom and later in practice.

These apps are available for download in both Google Play or iTunes depending upon your mobile operating system. As a future social worker, your ability to be mobile and organized will be the key to your success. So, lets start incorporating these fabulous tools in your student life now.

Dropbox– Don’t get caught without your usb drive or say I mistakenly left my assignment on my home computer. There is no excuse for not being able to access important documents, projects, or information with the dropbox mobile app at your disposal. Dropbox is an online cloud storage system that allows you to access music, photos, documents, and/or power points from any computer. Most importantly, you have the ability to authorize certain computers to sync and save documents across all your devices. Let’s say, you are working on a document from the library and you save it in your dropbox folder online. If you authorize your home computer as an authorized device, your work is now saved in the dropbox folder on your home computer’s hard drive as well as your mobile phone.

Evernote-Looking for that research or reference that you can’t seem to find? You need Evernote to help keep you organized. Evernote is like an electronic accordion file stored in the clouds for easy access. Evernote provides an extension for your internet web browser that will allow you to save web pages, photos, research, and other articles as you surf the internet. The Evernote mobile app will then allow you to access your electronic files/notebooks where ever you are and whenever you need them.

Mindmeister-As social workers, we really need to move away from lugging around large flip charts or random scraps of notebook paper when working on group projects to organize and gather data. A popular tool used by many project managers to organize group thinking is mind mapping. Mind maps are visual organizations of gathered data which have proven to be effective for all learning styles. The added bonus of using mind mapping technology is that it will also organize data in traditional outlines for more linear thinkers.

Google Voice- When working at your field placement or even in your personal activities, do you really want to share your personal cell phone number? With Google Voice, you no longer have to make that choice. Google Voice will add a second phone line to any mobile phone with a free phone number from the zip code of your choice. Google Voice will allow you to screen and block annoying callers, send and receive text, archive call logs, and much more. It also provides an options for low-cost international calling.

SWHelper- Have you ever considered talking with social work students from other schools of social work or in other countries to discuss social policy, social justice issues, or human rights? Well, now you can with ease without compromising privacy and security. Collaborate, share ideas, give and receive support to another fellow social work student while staying current on social issues both domestically and abroad. Download on Android or iTunes.

Creating an Instructional Video Using Youtube

Videos have become part of main stream America, just Google Tobuscus or watch the Justin Bieber movie to see the influence of YouTube on their careers. Any Linkster or Y generation kid will know who you are talking about. So what does this have to do with social work? Here is an opportunity and a challenge. The opportunity is to identify and develop client-specific content.

The challenge is to take the next step of creating your own educational videos to address your populations. Video recorders are available for a minimum amount of money or can be obtained on e-bay for even less. Windows 8 comes with free video editing software to make it easy to deliver your educational message. It is not as difficult as you may think…

Here is an excerpt from “How to Craft the Perfect Instructional Video:

We’ve now discussed how to create an effective event and testimonial videos. In this article, we’ll explore how to create an instructional video, which is probably the most scalable form of social media video content.

It’s not bound by the frequency of events or the availability of a testimonial subject (although you may want to feature an outside expert as explained below). Social media in general is a great forum to provide support and the instructional video can be a great tool that helps your customers better use your products.

Instruction options

Any IT related product has an inherent opportunity for the creation of instructional videos. Most software products, whether on web, mobile, or desktop, have many features that customers either aren’t aware of or aren’t familiar with how to use in an optimal way. Creating a series of instructional videos with one video per feature or function is a great way of creating interesting video content that really helps your customers.

For physical goods products, there are a lot of instructional video topics that can stem from how to use the product. For example, cosmetics have an unending instructional video opportunity that can teach people how to look great. The best thing about instructional videos is that they afford you a chance to give customers useful information while featuring what your products can do in a way that directly drives sales.

Links to examples of client-specific videos:

Personal Grooming

How to Interview for a Job : Skills Assessment for a Job Interview

Social Skills for Life: Managing Strong Emotions

Top 5 Best Free Website Builders For Your Practice

Frustrated User

I will be discussing my recommendations for the best free website builders to assist you in crafting an online professional image. Whether you are creating an online portfolio or starting a small business, you only have once to make an online impression of yourself with a well planned website.

You could always hire someone to design your website, integrate your social media, provide internet security and IT support. On the other hand, this could be pretty expensive for someone with minimal assets and capital. However, you don’t want potential clients and employers dismissing you based on the look and layout of your website.

Before choosing a website platform, you must first decide whether it will be updated frequently or whether your web content will primarily remain the same. Blog style platforms are great for content that needs to be updated frequently. Static website platforms are primarily for individuals who need their content updated only every few months.

The Top 5 best free website platforms that I recommend are as follows:

Weebly

Weebly’s platform uses a drop and drag type website builder which is very easy to use. It will give you a professional looking website with a wide selection of templates in its free version. For someone with no technical skills, I highly recommend weebly as the best option for the beginner. Advanced features are offered for your weebly site with an upgraded plan.

 Wix

Wix is a great option for someone who needs to display a lot of multi-media such as videos and photos. Wix has recently upgraded it’s technology to HTML5 which now displays on Apple products. Wix also uses a drop and drag website builder platform. The look and feel is geared towards achieving a rich multi-media website.

WordPress.com or WordPress.org

WordPress is the ultimate marriage between static content and frequent updates because it has the ability to do both. WordPress is a free open source platform that will allow you to create with very few limits for a small business owner. WordPress.com is hosted on a wordpress server, and WordPress.org is hosted on a hosting service that you pay for. WordPress is also optimized for mobile site visitors, and it even includes a handy mobile app for on the go posting.

Google Sites

Google sites is the ultimate choice for static websites which includes free hosting courtesy of google. Their sites are fully integratable with a suite of free google products such as google drive, google calendar, gmail, youtube, adsense, and more. Google Sites come with an array of templates that can be modified through widgets for the beginner, but it also give the ability to inject html code and java scripts for the more advanced user. The skill of the user will affect the achievable look and feel of a google site.

Google sites are optimized for mobile site visitors, and it is free to use. Google also offers the ability to purchase your own domain name using Google Apps at a cost ranging between 8 to 12 dollars with privacy options included. For what comes with the purchase of a domain name using Google Apps, I have not found anything better. Google Apps needs a stand alone post by itself which is possible in the near future. Resources will be given below to learn more on these products.

Blogger

Blogger is a Google product that uses a blog style platform. It will provide another alternative for sites needing frequent updates. Blogger has been making strides to improve customization for its users. Most importantly, it is fully integratable with a suite of free Google products, and it’s free to use. However, this option would make a great personal website and your business type would determine whether Blogger is a good fit for you.

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