Nick Exposito

Marketing & New Business Coordinator

10 Writing “Rules” That Are Okay to Break

Don’t begin a sentence with a “but” or “and”. Don’t ever write in passive voice. Never start a sentence with “because”. How many of you have ever heard these writing “rules” from a teacher or authority figure? My guess is all of you.

I recently attended a writing seminar hosted by Association Media & Publishing (AM&P) and the topic was “Back to the Basics: Writing for Associations.” Leslie O’Flahavan led this fun and interactive workshop, and she gave great insight on why it is okay to go ahead and BREAK all of those writing “rules” and get them out of your head.

Here are the 10 writing rules Leslie says can be broken:

  1. Don’t begin a sentence with “but” or “and”.
  2. Don’t end a sentence with a preposition.
  3. Don’t begin a sentence with “because”.
  4. Don’t write a one-sentence paragraph.
  5. Don’t use contractions in business writing.
  6. Don’t use “they” as a singular pronoun.
  7. Don’t split an infinitive.
  8. Don’t write a fragment.
  9. Don’t begin a sentence with “however” or “therefore”.
  10. Don’t write in passive voice. Ever.

When writing for your organization, all of these rules can be broken. Yes, all of them. Thanks to blogging and social media, a more casual and informal writing tone is now not only accepted but often expected. So live on the wild side and break rules a little bit! Just be careful that u don’t go 2 crazy w/ it. ;)

What other writing “rules” do you think need to be broken from time to time?

Nick Exposito

Marketing & New Business Coordinator

Our Favorite Video Editing Tools: Final Cut Pro & iMovie

It’s no secret that video is one of the hottest marketing trends and tools right now. If you haven’t taken the leap into video creation for your organization, now is certainly the time!

Video creation can seem like an overwhelming task at first thought, but good news! If you have a smartphone (who doesn’t these days?) and the right video editing software, you can create pretty great video content. Sure, your videos may not be super bowl ad worthy, but you’ll be surprised at the quality of content you can produce with the right tools.

Two of our favorite editing tools are iMovie and Final Cut Pro, which are both Apple products. While they are a bit of an apples-and-oranges comparison – one is a more basic, budget friendly option and the other is more full-featured and an investment – they are both great tools to get the job done, depending on your needs.

Here’s a little background on each editor, and the advantages of each:

iMovie

This is a great program for beginner video editors to use to learn the ropes. We love it for it’s ease of use and basic editing features – it has enough tools to get the job done, but none of the more complex editing options that often intimidate beginners. Since it’s an Apple product, you can seamlessly bring in different Apple programs to the application such as iTunes, Garageband, Photos, etc.

We also love that it:

  • Makes it easy to jump back and forth between scenes
  • Is very simple to change the audio over a video clip
  • Gives you the ability to fix shaky/unsteady video
  • Is available on all Apple devices, so you can make edits on your video from anywhere

The biggest advantage of iMovie is that it’s free! A great way to get some exposure to video editing, without an initial investment.

Final Cut Pro

This is a signature video editing software, and includes more advanced features and capabilities. With a modern and sleek design, Final Cut also makes the experience for the editor more exciting while remaining pretty easy to use.

Some of our favorite features include:

  • The magnetic timeline, which makes it easier to produce your project. It automatically snaps multiple clips into place and gives you the ability to move the clips around the timeline quickly and easily.
  • Multi-Channel Audio that allows use different audio channels to make the sound of the video high-quality.
  • Compound clips option, that keeps you from worrying about gaps when you add videos together, and it transitions the video smoothly.

There is a cost associated with Final Cut Pro – right now it’s priced at $299 – but we believe it’s one of the best video editors on the market and worth every penny.

For most of our video editing needs here at Matrix Group, such as the Matrix Minute video series, we use Final Cut Pro. But we also love using iMovie to quickly edit and post videos to social media that are more timely.

There are many other video editing programs out there, but these are by far our favorites. And remember, if you ever need any video help, we’re here for you!

Have to dabbled in video editing? What’s your platform of choice?

Nick Exposito

Marketing & New Business Coordinator

How to Use Social Media for Your Business

As the Marketing Coordinator at Matrix Group, I’ve started to use social media on a daily
basis not just to connect with my friends, but to see what is going on in the world and to see what is trending from a business and marketing standpoint. I’m also learning a lot about how to use social media to connect with your clients and constituents so they can better connect with you.

I recently attended a digital writing class hosted by Carrie Hane, Principal of Tanzen Consulting, where I learned about everything from creating better emails to writing for SEO. The topic I found most interesting, though, was writing for social media, since I use it on a daily basis and it’s something you don’t learn a lot about in college or in school in general.

My top takeaways about writing for social media were:

  • Always put your audience first – what are they interested in? What content can you share to best meet their needs?
  • Use calls to action!
  • Aim to be shareable. More shares = more likes = more interest = more business!
  • Keep in mind that your social channels and each post are part of a much bigger story.
  • Use hashtags to be found and to join the larger conversation
  • Think about how you can differentiate your content – there is a lot of noise on social media, so what can you do to stand out in the crowd?

While all of these are great ideas to keep in mind when it comes to writing for social media, each platform is different and requires a slightly different strategy, so there are some quick tips that I learned for how and what to post to each channel:

  • Twitter
    • The ideal tweet shouldn’t exceed 100 characters and needs to be more than 70.
    • Add photos to your tweets whenever possible
    • Share 4 to 5 relevant pieces of content that are not your everyday, such as blog pages, articles, or retweets of a relevant quote.
    • Make sure you are following your customers back!
  • Facebook
    • Share business news and current topics that are happening in the industry.
    • Always try and include pictures with your posts – you will get more engagement from your audience.
    • Facebook allows unlimited text in your posts, but the ideal length for a post is above 40 characters but less than 120.
  • Instagram
    • Use great pictures or short videos to get a lot of traffic.
    • Have a balance of posts between “fun” images and business related / promotional images
    • Try to keep posts to under 150 characters, and keep in mind that only the first 140 characters will display before they get cut off and users have to click “more” to see the rest.

And one more piece of advice for all platforms: regularly update your profile picture and cover photo; it’ll keep your audience more engaged with your page.

I had a great time attending Carrie’s workshop, and as you can see I learned a ton! If you’re interested in hearing more from Carrie on writing for the web, make sure to check out the Matrix Minute video that CEO Joanna Pineda recorded with her about How Writing for Digital is Different.

What other tips do you have for using social media for business? I’m all ears!

Leah Monica

Director of Marketing

Social Media Tool: Hootlet Extension

If you’re in marketing, you know how time consuming posting and monitoring social media can be. It can easily swallow hours of your work day. Yes, hours.

As I mentioned before, I’m all about the productivity hacks this year, and am diving deep into the world of Chrome extensions to try to streamline my work and personal life. My current favorite extension for efficiency in the social media department is the the Hootlet extension for Chrome and Firefox. If you use Hootsuite to manage your social media accounts like we do, you need this, plain and simple!

Why is it so great? It allows you to share articles or web pages that you are reading/visiting, without ever having to switch tabs or copy/paste a single URL or string of text. While it may not seem like either of those things are that much of a nuisance, you’d be shocked at how much time the back-and-forth swallows, and how easy it is to get lost and distracted when you’re juggling 15-20 tabs at once (that’s not just me, right?).

With the Hootlet extension, all you have to do is click the Hootlet icon in the browser toolbar, and the familiar Hootsuite draft box will pop up on the webpage, pre-populated with the page title and URL. From there, you can customize your message, add a photo or attachment, and choose to either share the social media post immediately or schedule it for later, without ever leaving the webpage. Life changing!

Another cool feature? If you see a quote in an article that you’d like to share, you can quickly do so by highlighting the text, right-clicking, and clicking on “share via Hootlet.” The draft box will then pop up with the highlighted text, and a shortened link to the article.

Sharing made easy! Can’t beat that.

What are some of your favorite social media productivity tools?

Leah Monica

Director of Marketing

Using UTM Codes for Better Google Analytics Reporting

URL-smIt’s no secret that we’ve been seriously geeking out about everything Google Analytics here at Matrix Group. We’ve been endlessly exploring, experimenting and testing and have been blown away by the amount of invaluable data we’ve been able to collect for our clients, down to the granular who/what/when/where/how/why. We’ve said it before, and we’ll keeping saying it until we’re blue in the face: you simply can’t afford to ignore your analytics reporting!

Want to start digging deeper but not sure where to start? You’re not alone! Our clients frequently ask us for one or two simple things they can do to get started, and our No. 1 answer is: start with UTM codes.

UTM codes are code snippets that you can attach to custom URLs that track a source, medium, and campaign name. This information gets passed to Google Analytics and identifies where your traffic is coming from and what campaigns are driving the traffic. Invaluable data!

Here are a few of our top tips for using UTM codes:

    • Create a spreadsheet to track codes and campaigns. Having everything planned out and stored in one place will not only help you visualize your whole campaign, but it will also ensure more accurate reporting, especially if you have multiple staff members working on one campaign.
    • Keep your tags consistent. UTM codes are case sensitive, so make sure you stick to the same permutations of upper and lower case!
    • Use dashes, not spaces, to separate words. While a UTM URL builder will allow you to use spaces, it makes the URL look a lot less clean. Example: “CEO blog post” will become CEO%20blog%20post. Instead, try CEO-blog-post. Doesn’t that look better?
    • Use a URL Builder to create links. These tools are very easy to use and will save you time and heartburn over building the URLs yourself.
    • Use a URL shortener, where appropriate. When you use UTM codes, the URLs can get quite lengthy and ugly. Use URL shorteners to make the links more visually appealing. There are tons of easy-to-use URL shortener tools out there (we like goo.gl), so make use of them!
    • Never send out a link to your site without a UTM code in place!

Looking for other Google Analytics tips and tricks? Check out CEO Joanna Pineda’s recent blog posts on Google Analytics. There’s some great info there! If you want a little more hands-on guidance and assistance, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’d love to help you in any way we can.

Have any other tips for getting started with Google Analytics? What are your favorite reports and hacks?