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By Matt Bailey | Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Investing In Social Media For Your Business

Create an Integrated Online Marketing Plan

Explore this course at lynda.com.

How much time and money should I spend on social media?

This frequently asked question sums up the frustration of countless business owners and website publishers. Many social media experts say it’s essential to have a social presence. But not all businesses are the same, nor do they all make money the same way, so it’s critical to first develop an integrated online marketing plan before executing a successful social media strategy to promote it.

Define your messaging Start with your marketing message and strategy, and clearly define the unique value proposition of your business. What do you bring to the table that sets you apart from your competitors, or solves your customers’ problems more efficiently? Once your message aligns with your business goals and reflects your strengths, you’ll need to assess how and where to communicate it.

By Jess Stratton | Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Productivity Pointers: Measuring influence with Klout

How much do you drive your social media contacts to act? To comment? To discuss, retweet, and share?

Klout is a web app that measures your online “clout”—that is, how influential you are on your social media contacts. You sign up for Klout, connect to all your social networks, and Klout gives you a number between 1 and 100 ranking your online social clout. A 1 would be a user who signed up for a service, but never used it. A 100 might apply to a well-known personality like Kim Kardashian. Your Klout score is always fluctuating based on your online activity (i.e., engaging, commenting, tweeting, and responding), which Klout refers to as “signals.” The score that Klout generates from these signals indicates how influential you are to your followers and friends.

In the first video, I offer some reasons why you might be interested in knowing your Klout score, and show you how to get your social media accounts connected to Klout to start measuring your score.

By Colleen Wheeler | Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Creating an Optimal Facebook Cover Image in Photoshop

In this week’s Deke’s Techniques, Deke McClelland shows you how to create a perfectly spaced, sized, and positioned Facebook cover image. Sure, you could take your chances and upload a carefully selected photo for your cover image, then hope limited repositioning controls in Facebook let you adequately present your creative vision. Or you could watch this week’s movie and find out how to craft your cover in Photoshop ahead of time, to present a vision that’s exactly what you want for your Facebook page.

The key to getting things positioned precisely is creating a template that allows you to plan your composition exactly. Specifically, here are the dimensions that you want:

Template of a standard Facebook cover with dimensions marked

Although the 851 x 315 dimensions of the standard Facebook cover is fairly common knowledge, the key to ultimately having your cover and the smaller inset profile picture work together with technical accuracy is to anticipate in Photoshop how the two will visually interact. In this project, Deke’s goal is to have text that spans across the cover photo actually look as though it begins inside the smaller profile photo. (His kooky brush tiki man also spans across both images.) This requires some deft use of smart objects, layer masks, duplication, trimming, and of course, the Save for Web command. Here is the result of Deke’s project:

Final Facebook cover art with text spanning seamlessly from inset into banner

Of course, you can extrapolate from this technique to create your own professionally crafted cover photo for your own personal or business page. And members of lynda.com can watch this week’s exclusive video, in which Deke continues the project by showing you how he got his inset profile image to work as part of the larger cover photo, replete with letter D and the handle of the brush character positioned so that they flow from one image to the next.

By Mark Niemann-Ross | Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tips for getting your kids interested in programming

It’s summer! It’s July! Your son or daughter has been decompressing from school for nearly a month, and now they’re bored, feisty, and looking for something new. Resourceful parents dig deep into their bag of tricks for something—anything—to keep the son/daughter from bugging their brother/sister. I, personally, like to think of this boredom as a window of opportunity to convert non-productive screen time into a learning experience, or, more specifically, a window of opportunity to spark an interest that may lead young minds toward wanting to know more about the skill of programming.

Young boy typing on keyboard with red computer.

Sure, in the big picture, summer is all about getting outside, playing ball at the park, swimming in the pool, and, more or less, finding new and inventive ways of getting into trouble. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not advocating taking up residence on the couch. What I am suggesting is that along with that physical activity, summer is also a great time to stretch minds.

Programming is a real-world tool that provides context for structured problem-solving, math concepts, and improved study habits. That being said, of course no red-blooded kid is going to willingly dive into something as “boring” as programming. Seriously—video games are a much more amusing way to consume screen time than staring at a bunch of cryptic incantations written in some useless programming language. Are you kidding? Learn programming? Learn ANYTHING? I know kids that would rather cut the lawn than get stuck behind a textbook.

If your kid is the “I’d rather mow the lawn” type, here’s a thought—tell your kid they could amuse and amaze their friends by building their own video game. It’s entirely possible that they may end up creating something like Angry Birds or Farmville.

Image of Angry Birds App in Facebook, used as an example of Facebook gamification.

While your son or daughter's first programming initiative may not be as exciting as Angry Birds, practice makes perfect and the creation of basic Facebook games is a great gateway into the world of programming.

Facebook is a great platform to introduce  programmingahem—writing games. Facebook programming can be done with JavaScript—an extremely useful language to know— and Facebook games can be created for free. Plus, Facebook is something “the kid” will already know about. You’ll just need to supply server access (something Ray Villalobos walks you through in Building Facebook Applications with HTML and JavaScript.)

How to get your kids started

Getting your kids started may end up being the hardest part of this initiative. You’ll need to use your parenting super-powers of persuasion to introduce the idea and fire up their enthusiasm. This should be far easier than convincing them to floss their teeth, but there may still be some resistance. Back in my parenting days, I found it easiest to have this sort of conversation over an ice-cream cone.

“Hey,” I would say, using my nonchalant voice. “I was just reading about Facebook games. Have you heard anything about them?”

My kids would respond positively. Possibly launch off into an enthusiastic dissertation about their latest engagement with cows, birds, or jewels.

“I heard it’s not too difficult to create them yourself,” I would say. “If you’re interested, I think I could dig up some instructions and you could build one. What kind of game would you build?”

…and we’re off to the races.

Of course, this means that you—the parent—also need to follow up and help them get un-stuck at times. I recommend sitting down with them to watch the introduction to Ray’s Building Facebook Applications with HTML and JavaScript course together. Maybe start by building your own game with them so that you develop some empathy. I’d also recommend that you let them build a game on their own, as it can be entirely too easy for a parent to take over the project, leaving the kid on the sidelines. There’s great benefit in letting them control their own destiny, and make their own mistakes. Besides, you’ll be amazed at how fast they pick this stuff up and learn things you probably overlooked.

What to expect, and why it’s ok if their first initiative isn’t epic

To be honest, the first game is going to be pretty simplistic and much less sophisticated than what a wild imagination might hope for. Remember to reassure your kids and remind them that it’s just their first game, and it doesn’t mean they won’t ever write the epic game they envision. To assist your son or daughter’s first attempt, you might want to use some of the sample JavaScript source code for games you’ll find by googling “simple javascript games.” If you use one of those programs, be sure to remember to credit the original author.

Once your son or daughter makes it over the hurdle of the first game, you’ll find their desire to learn more about JavaScript will naturally feed itself. To aid you in your next steps, the lynda.com training library has a slew of programming courses, ranging from fundamentals of programming all the way to five hours of in-depth JavaScript training.

Don’t be fooled, though—the training videos in the lynda.com library are only tools to help you encourage your kids to be life-long learners. In the end, you’re the parent with secret ninja skills of persuasion and encouragement. We’re only here to be your trusty sidekick.

If you have kid programming stories, or tips to share with other parents, we’d love to hear your thoughts! Please leave a comment and let us know your story, and keep us updated as you and your son or daughter progress.

Interested in more? • All developer courses on lynda.com • All courses from Ray Villalobos on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:• Building Facebook Applications with HTML and JavaScript• JavaScript Essential Training (2011)Practical and Effective JavaScript • Foundations of Programming: Fundamentals

By Colleen Wheeler | Saturday, July 21, 2012

Featured five: Video training for administrative professionals and more

For this edition of featured five free videos, I’ve chosen five sample movies from lynda.com courses in our Business segment, all geared toward the needs of the administrative professional. This weekend a group of those amazing folk who keep business running and thriving is gathering in Texas for their Education Forum and Annual Meeting. The theme of the conference is focused more than ever on education and training, and our Business segment has some excellent follow-up accompaniment to those sessions. (Of course, solid training in business-related topics doesn’t just pertain to administrative pros!)

One of our most popular authors for Business tools training, Gini Courter, will be teaching several sessions at EFAM, and I thought it was a good time to round up some of the excellent training Gini and her fellow lynda.com Business authors have created.

Viewing the task and to-do lists in Outlook from Outlook 2010: Time Management With Calendar and Tasks

In this video, Gini Courter reviews the difference and view options for Outlook’s Tasks and To-Do lists.  If you’re already using Outlook for email, these are definitely features that allow you to turn email into activity. The course focuses on how to use Outlook 2010 to handle both business and personal schedules, from making appointments, to creating and completing tasks, to color-coding calendars and tasks for at-a-glance review.

Responding to Twitter @mentions from Social Media Marketing with Facebook and Twitter

In this video, our popular Social Media Maven Anne-Marie Concepción explains how you can use the @mention feature on Twitter to hear what people are saying or asking about your company. Social media has become a critical activity for many businesses, and Anne-Marie’s course covers not only the fundamentals of social media marketing, but also the basics of creating a top-level online presence.

Choosing the fonts for your Word document from Word 2010 Essential Training

For any business document, the recipients gets their first impression from the way you choose to format your words, particularly which font you choose. In this movie, Gini Courter goes over font formatting in Word documents so you can choose the font that best serves your communication. The course this movie comes from delves into the functionality at the heart of Word: creating, editing, and formatting documents.

Understanding how to hold effective meetings from Effective Meetings

Meetings that feel like a waste of time or a confusing deluge of information are a common occurence. In this movie, Dave Crenshaw discusses the three principles that inform an effective meeting. Dave’s course is focused on establishing a simple, usable framework to get the most from meetings, and provides insight into how to effectively schedule, conduct, and follow up on meetings.

What can you do with InfoPath? from InfoPath 2010 Essential Training

We’ve all had to face forms in our business days that are tedious and complicated to read, let alone fill out correctly. Microsoft InfoPath allows you to develop a clear, beautiful, effective form, so that the information can be gathered and analyzed easily. (And for EFAM attendees, you’ll get an in-depth view from the presenter herself!)

Whether you’re an administrative pro on your way to Texas for EFAM, someone holding down the fort (and holding the fort together) day-to-day, or just a person who wants to thrive in the business environment, the Business segment in our library is dedicated to helping you develop critical skills. Let us know if there are other topics you’d like to see addressed in our library in the future.

By Garrick Chow | Friday, March 11, 2011

Creating a Facebook Page for your organization

Many people who are interested in creating a Facebook presence for their business, band, or other organization often make the mistake of setting up a new personal profile on Facebook, substituting the name of their organization into the First and Last name fields on the Facebook signup page. This can frequently result in frustration (especially when you’re trying to fill in the fields for the gender and birthdate of your organization), and there’s usually a decent chance of the profile being disabled by Facebook, because Facebook profiles are intended for personal use by individuals, not groups or companies.

To create a presence for your group, you need to use Facebook Pages, which are essentially profiles geared towards companies and other organizations or services. To create a Page, sign into your personal Facebook account and then go to facebook.com/pages and click the + Create Page button. (If you don’t have a personal Facebook account you can still create a page by going to facebook.com/pages, but you will have to register in order to administer your Page.)

Next, choose which kind of organization you’re creating the Page for, such as a band, a non-profit, your freelancing service, and so on. Based on the category you choose, you’ll be asked to enter additional information, such as the address of your business, or the name of the event you’re creating the Page for. Just follow the prompts to complete the required info. Once you’re done with the set up you’ll be taken to your page.

At that point you can start dressing up your Page like a regular Facebook profile by adding photos, posting status updates, and commenting or posting on other people’s Walls. One important note: if you want your comments to appear as being posted by your organization, and not from your personal Facebook account, go to the Account menu in the upper-right hand corner of the website, and choose Use Facebook as Page. If you have more than one Page, you’ll be able to select which identity you’d like to use when interacting with other pages and profiles. Return to the Accounts menu when you’re ready to switch back to your personal identity again.

Here are some other cool and useful things you can do with your Page. First click Edit Info under your Page’s name. From there you can do things like:

Add apps. Select Apps from the left hand column, and choose to add apps like Events, Photos, Video, and Discussion Boards, which make it easy to add multimedia and interactivity to your page.

Add Admins. More than one person can manage a Facebook Page. Just go to Manage Admins to give other Facebook users Admin privileges. Just be sure you trust the people you make admins, because they’ll have complete control over the Page.

Check your stats. Click Insights to see data and graphs detailing how many people have Liked your Page and how many users are actively using your Page each month.

And be sure to explore the other categories in the left sidebar to see what additional options are available for you to customize.

Once your Facebook Page is looking the way you like, be sure to promote it by linking to it on your personal account’s wall so that it will appear in your friends’ newsfeeds. Encourage friends and others to visit your page and to click the Like button and become Fans of your Page. Any updates or announcements you make on your Page will appear in the newsfeeds of all your Fans.

Learn more about creating Facebook Pages in Social Media Marketing with Facebook and Twitter with Anne-Marie Concepcion, which will be updated later this spring with new information.

By Crystal McCullough | Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New feature: Share information on every Online Training Library® course

SHARE button on each course listing

We've added a new feature: Each course now has the option to easily email, print, and share about it on multiple social networks or blog services with minimal clicks. Try it!

Even if you’ve never clicked on it, by now you may have noticed a Share button like the one above on many of your favorite sites. Its purpose is to expedite the sharing of news stories, blog posts, and other page content to one or more social networks, other blogs, or simply sending to your printer or bookmarks list.


Each of the courses in the lynda.com Online Training Library® now has its own AddThis Share button, located just under the course release date. If you want to share information about and a link back to the course, click on the Share button, then choose the method of sharing you prefer.

Sharing on Facebook, for example, gives the option to post the link to your profile or sending the information in a private message to one or more of your Facebook friends. Sharing on Twitter automatically creates a shortened bit.ly URL and transfers it to Twitter, ready for you to tweet.

Enjoy! And if you like this or any of our blog posts, the Share button is down here waiting for you at the bottom left of every post.

By Megan O. Read | Thursday, August 13, 2009

lynda.com author news: dinners, unicycles, Photoshop, InDesign, Twitter, Facebook, and more


Top group dinner shot, left to right: Some of the lynda.com production team, Andy Ta, Roon Tamuli, Nick Brazzi, Samara Iodice, Max Smith, and Andrew Geibel. Then it's Ian Robinson (author), Megan Read (me), Nigel French (author), and Nigel's friend. Center unicycle shots: the first and second photos are the multitalented author Ian Robinson, third photo is our own Nick Brazzi. Bottom group shot, left to right: Max, Nick, Deke McClelland (author), me, Robbie Carman (author).

Over the last two weeks, we’ve had authors from all over the place in our recording booths. Ian Robinson from Virginia was in-house recording some eye-catching new Motion 4 training, Nigel French was here all the way from the UK recording an interesting new InDesign typography course, and Michael Ninness was here from Seattle recording the must-see InDesign Power Shortcuts.

This week is another busy one at lynda.com! We’ve got Robbie Carman also from Virginia recording some brand spankin’ new Color 1.5 training, Anne-Marie Concepción in from Illinois recording a cool new course about marketing your business with Twitter and Facebook, and of course, Deke McClelland from Colorado recording handfuls of must-see Photoshop training.

Our authors are all hard-working professionals, but occasionally, they get to let their hair down at a nice dinner with their lynda-peeps, or let off some steam with a fun Friday lunch playing on unicycles in the parking lot. Yes, there are actually quite a few unicyclers here at lynda.com!

Enjoy the pix, and as always, the training!

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