My tip this week: enjoy the spring weather but remember to be on the look-out for possible allergen effects on your pets!

easter1
Happy Easter!
I hope the sun is up and shining where you live.
My pals , Shredder, Miss Kitty, and Modo, say that they might need a boat in Georgia. Evidently they have been getting quite a bit of rain. Well let’s hope it doesn’t go that far!
Little ones across the country are probably up and peeking in their Easter baskets to see what goodies the Easter Bunny has brought them. I can just imagine all the bright, colorful and shiny wrappers peeking through the plastic (or paper) grass. I bet there is chocolate and jelly beans, hard-boiled eggs and gumballs and maybe some bubbles or little bouncy balls for them.
We love getting into that kind of stuff even though it can be dangerous to us so please keep us safe and away from the goodies until it’s all gone!.
easter2
Still Easter brings with it a time of rebirth and new beginnings for nature and people. It’s an exciting time of year, and as I’ve said before it is one of my favorites!
a_allergies_pet_guide_2Sometimes all this new growth in nature can play havoc on humans and us pets alike. There are a lot of allergens in the air this time of year that can have an effect on our breathing, skin and eyes. People take antihistamines to help relieve their discomfort, but sometimes they don’t realize their beloved pet can also be affected. You may want to check with your vet if you notice any changes in your pets behavior. Some allergens can cause their skin to be itchy and their eyes to appear watery – sounds familiar, I’m sure, to a lot of you.
On another subject entirely, some of you may remember that some time ago I did a series of short stories. I have been thinking about doing that again but with sort of a take off from the Today Show’s “Where In The World Is Matt Laur”. I’d like to “travel” a bit and find some facts about some interesting places and put my findings in story form.
I would greatly appreciate any ideas or thoughts you may have about my proposal. Everyone can’t be world travelers, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn about other interesting cultures and exciting places. Maybe I could travel through an Amazon rain forest, or visit a Hawaiian volcano. The possibilities are endless! Send me your ideas, please!
Symptoms-Dog-Allergies
My tip this week: enjoy the spring weather but remember to be on the look-out for possible allergen effects on your pets!
Romeo, the little black dog!

Romeos Tip of the Week: Think of small ways you can improve the environment around you….and let me know some of your ideas so we can share them with everyone. Together we CAN make a difference

Hello, everyone!
 spring10
Spring, spring, spring! I just love it!
The soft, cool, green grass beneath my paws instead of cold ice and snow, yeah! There are so many fresh sights and scents to explore. The buds on the trees and flowers trying to bloom, newborn animals exploring their environment for the first time, it’s so exciting!
120823_eyn_keepamericabeautifulWhich brings me to the subject of my blog today. April is “Keep America Beautiful” month. I’ve blogged many times before about keeping things clean around you and respecting our environment, but we all need a little reminder now and then. It’s really quite simple to keep things around you clean: just pick up after yourself! If everyone practiced that, things wouldn’t get trashy looking.
 50510_333040222065_8382743_n
Many people don’t realize that the smallest pieces of trash, say like a gum wrapper, added with other   small pieces of trash add up to a whole lot of ugliness. Not to come down on smokers ,but really, if you are one of those who don’t give a second thought to throwing your cigarette butt on the ground, PLEASE STOP!!! It is really disrespectful not only to those around you but to our environment.
If you take your dog for a walk please clean up it’s waste….we can’t do it for ourselves.
iStock_000021430890Small-300x199
There are other ways to help keep America beautiful, like volunteering with others to clean up an area in your city that needs tidying up, recycle what you can….the less going into landfills the better. Start up a group to adopt an area that you plant flowers and/or shrubs and keep it looking attractive. If we all do our small part it can have a BIG impact on our environment.
My tip this week: think of small ways you can improve the environment around you….and let me know some of your ideas so we can share them with everyone.  Together we CAN make a difference.
Romeo, the little black dog!

Romeo’s Tip of the Week: Consider all the options and factors before adopting a dog/cat, and it will make the experience that much “sweeter.”

rescue-dog
Hello, everyone!
So you think you are ready to adopt your forever canine ( this can also apply to other types of pets). maxresdefaultBut have you thought everything through thoroughly? Don’t misunderstand me, I am all for pet adoptions; but when I say” forever” canine, that is what I mean.
All too often people with good intentions adopt a pet, and then after the pet is adjusted to a new environment, the owners realize they have made a mistake. It’s better to know what you are getting into so you can make an educated decision.
  • First of all, do you own your home? If not, check your lease for rules on owning pets.
  • How large is your home/apt.? This will help determine breed size.
  • Do you work long hours away from home? Some breeds do well home alone for extended amounts of time but others do not.
  • Do you have children, and what are their ages? Some breeds do not adapt well to young children.
  • Do you have a yard for outside exercise or have an area for walking your dog? This is an important detail…if you are living in an apt. on the 3rd floor, are you going to tire from taking your dog up/down 3 flights of stairs multiple times a day?
Ok, so we’ve settled the  living conditions. Next, caring for your pet.
  • Can you afford health care? There are ways to keep costs low, but your dog does need occasional vet checks and immunizations and preventative meds for heartworm disease and flea control. Keep in mind that the larger the breed the more all of this will cost.
  • The same holds true for food/treats, collars, grooming, supplies etc.
  • Which brings to mind, grooming! Some breeds require very little grooming while others require a lot of time and sometimes professional grooming.
  • Training: some dogs train easily, but others will require a lot of time and patience on your part. In the end it will be worth all that time but make sure you are prepared to give it.
adopt-me1So now you have decided you feel equipped to handle everything. Where will you go to adopt your forever dog? Please consider going to your local shelter and spend some time with the dogs there. There are some very loving dogs there that would make a wonderful addition to your family. Check with the attendant for as much history on the dog as possible. Before you bring your new family addition home its best to have all your supplies purchased and in place…just as you would if you were bringing home a baby.
Give your dog time to adjust and be patient, as he/she may take a little time trusting you with his/her heart. Once that bond is made you will have a trusted friend and companion for life.
I was adopted into a loving home myself, and I am forever grateful that my momma rescued me.
My tip this week: consider all the options and factors before adopting a dog/cat, and it will make the experience that much “sweeter.”
Have a wonderful week.
Romeo, the little black dog

Romeos Tip of the Week; Take a look at your pet’s health record for any needed updating and enjoy your pet with some playtime or a walk or just cuddling on the couch….we love it all!

Hello, everyone!
I thought I would devote my blog this week to pet care. Naturally it’s an important topic to me and one I just can’t say enough about but I promise not to get carried away
.
As a pet owner I know you must find it more and more difficult to get affordable pet insurancehealth care for your pet but, as a pet myself , I know that we depend on you to take care of all our needs. I know it’s a large task at times but we love and appreciate you for be responsible pet owners and seeing to our care and comfort.
There are ways to cut costs such as using a mobile vet unit if your area has one. You skip all the office visit costs which is a big help. Keep in mind that there are some situations that require seeing the vet at the office.
pet-insurance2Disease prevention is another way to keep costs lower than having to pay for treatment later. Good pet care always starts off with being a loving pet owner.
 Providing a healthy diet, fresh water and exercise is crucial. Make sure your pet gets all its needed vaccinations. Another important thing,  have your dog/cat on a heartworm preventative. Most vets advise year round prevention ( even in colder climates). I ,along with my pals Shredder and Modo, am on Trifexis . It’s a 3-in-1 that not only prevents heartworms but also kills fleas/prevents flea infestations and treats & controls adult hookworms, roundworms & whipworm infections. It’s absolutely necessary to get a heartworm test first and then a prescription. Check online & with your vet for rebate offers or buying in quantity discount offers.
photo-768x1024Just as you like to stay clean and well groomed so do we. Daily brushing/combing helps keep our coats Pet_Grooming_Toolsshiny and tangle free and it feels really good too! Of course we don’t require daily baths as that would dry out our skin but occasional baths are needed.
Another thing that pet owners sometimes may overlook is nail care. Yes we need a nail trim once in awhile.
I know all this sounds like a lot to fit into your busy schedule but once you get into a habit of good pet care it won’t take much time at all.
My tip this week; take a look at your pet’s health record for any needed updating and enjoy your pet with some playtime or a walk or just cuddling on the couch….we love it all!
Romeo the little black dog

Romeos Tip of the Week: Don’t take friendship for granted. Maybe give it a little extra nurturing this week!

Hello,everyone!
Two words: “quality” and “quantity.” Which holds more importance with you?best-friends-boys-cute3
2053_My_Best_Friend Take friendship, for instance, is it more important to have many friends or a few good quality friends? Having many acquaintances is great but when it comes to friendships I’d take a few good quality friendships over many fly-by-the-night friendships. Of course, a good relationship with another person is only as good as what you put into it.
Just like a tiny seed needs nurturing to grow into a healthy plant,  a long-lasting best-friends-21591805friendship needs care and nurturing to withstand all the ups and downs that life throws at us. So what do you want from a friendship? I think a good friend laughs with you and cries with you, tells you the truth even when you don’t like it and stands by you through thick and thin. A long-lasting friendship takes twists and turns, highs and lows, and bumps along the way; but through it all, it will stand strong and get you through the hardest of times in your life. It will also be there for you to have someone to share your joys with. A true and good quality friend will accept you even with your flaws and love you all the same.
My tip this week: don’t take friendship for granted. Maybe give it a little extra nurturing this week!
Have a great week,
Romeo, the little black dog

Few People Actually Read Web Content: What You Can Do to Get Read

Staff, Little Black Dog Social Media and More

 

We all know reading from a computer screen is different from reading text printed on paper. It is more tiring for our eyes. As screens become smaller and smaller, it becomes more difficult and more tiring for our eyes. Further, the explosion of digital content makes it impossible for anyone to read why should I read your stuff, Little Black Dog Social Media and Moreeverything published on a topic of interest. We have lost, as well, the quality assessments of publishers to help us determine what is and is not worth our time. As a result, few people (about 16 percent, in fact) actually read web content. Yet, there are things we can do to help people decide to read our content.

 

Most people have a selection process

Most of us have developed a process for deciding what is and is not worth our time. There are ways of scanning content to identify key information. For many, the process looks something like this:

  1. What website published the content?
  2. Do I know the writer?
  3. Does the writer consistently produce trustworthy and high quality content?
  4. Does the title indicate a topic that interests me?
  5. Does the first paragraph promise information I want or need?
  6. What do the headers and sub-headers tell me about the content?
  7. Does a featured image attracting attention fit the content?

Your process for deciding what to read and what to skip might be very different. Regardless of our process, however, there are key elements of content production and layout that make it easier for us to decide to read something.

 

Producing Scannable Web Content

By making it easy for readers to scan your blog posts, articles, web pages, social media posts, etc., you can help them decide to read the entire piece of content. Here are 10 things you can do to make web content scannable:

  1. Include an appropriate keyword in the title.
  2. Use a title that reflects the point of the content – cute might get attention, but it might not encourage viewers to read the entire item.
  3. Highlight key words and concepts.
  4. Use bulleted or numbered lists where possible and appropriate.
  5. Use accent text boxes or call-outs where possible (this is not possible with all websites or with all software options or social platforms).
  6. Use appropriate and descriptive headers and sub-headers throughout the content. This enables scanners to gain a sense of the development or argument of the item.
  7. Keep each paragraph focused on a single idea.
  8. Keep paragraphs to a maximum length of 6 lines whenever possible.
  9. Don’t be afraid to use different font sizes or colors to call attention to key points. Underlining and italics should be used in the same way.
  10. Use charts and diagrams where possible to illustrate key points.
  11. Choose a meaningful featured image that attracts the reader’s attention and points them to related content.

Conclusion

We know that only about one in fifteen people who discover a piece of content will actually read the entire piece. It is up to us to present content in a way that demands attention and demonstrates that it is worth the time and attention of a busy prospect. Try some of the ten things listed above to make your content scannable. We don’t suggest using all ten in a single piece of content. If people can find the points you are trying to make they are more likely to read the arguments.

If you need help producing content or making your content scannable, please give us a call (540-772-1724) or email us. We produce content every day for a wide range of subjects and a range of platforms, contexts, and formats.

Romeos Tip of the Week: Get your green on and have fun!

Hello, everyone!
Well it’s that time of year once again to get out your green! Yes, tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day!
4315438-st-patrick-s-day-shamrock-patternI bet you didn’t know that St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish. He was actually born in Roman Britain in the fourth century and at age of 16 was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken into captivity as a slave. A few years later he would flee back to Britain where he studied to be a priest. In 432 it is said that he was “called” back to Ireland ( as a bishop) to Christianize the Irish. According to Irish folklore he used the shamrock as a teaching method to explain the holy trinity.
 montreal_st_patricks_day_29
The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was actually in New York. One of the longest-running and largest St. Patrick’s Day parades occurs each year in Montreal.
ar123683494588485Over the years the color green became the holiday’s color along with the stories of leprechauns and pots of gold at the end of the rainbow and many more folklore tales. So for some it is a religious holiday and for others it’s a day to have fun and celebrate with friends.
 St_Patricks_Day_Parade_San_Francisco_20130316_111730_B13_1493
So my tip this week: get your green on and have fun!
Also to learn more about the patron saint go to Wikipedia.com ( this is where I retrieved my info).
A wee bit of Irish luck to ya!
Romeo, the little black dog

Romeos Tip of the Week: Start planning for your spring activities so that you may enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer.

Hello, everyone!spring-forward-2
Did you remember to “spring forward” the settings on your clock? It’s a sign that spring is on its way. I know that may be unbelievable to a lot of you, especially, when you consider the roaring entrance that March made last weekend. But, before long we will start to see some signs of spring (some areas across the country may have already).
free printable spring cleaning listNow is a good time to prepare for projects we’d like to accomplish when the milder weather reaches us. First thing to do is to make a list of what you want to get done and prioritize from most important to least important. Then start collecting items you may need to accomplish your goal. If you love gardening ( and have the space) now is a good time to get those seeds planted in potting trays indoors. Maybe you have some outdoor projects to repair or refresh your home, get things ready and organized so when the weather permits you will be all set to take off on your project. Getting well organized is the key to getting everything done in a stress-free way.
 spring10
Spring is one of the best seasons because its a time of rebirth and refreshment. You can both see and smell the newness that spring brings us. Maybe its a special gift from “Mother Nature” to replenish us after a long harsh cold winter.
Once it has warmed up it’s a great time to open windows and let fresh air flow through your house. Its amazing how stuffy and stale it can get through-out the winter. I know we have a bit longer to go before most of us can do that but I can hardly wait. I really miss running through the cool soft grass and chasing butterflies, and picnics and going to the park. Wow! I could go on and on.
My tip this week: start planning for your spring activities so that you may enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer.
Have a great week!
Romeo, the little black dog

Is Your Online Presence Optimized for Device-Juggling Customers?

By Vickie Pittard, Partner
Little Black Dog Social Media and More

 

Is your online presence optimized for device-juggling customers? According to recent research, a majority of people use at least two devices to access digital content during the typical day. A surprising number of them indicate use  of three or more devices on a typical day. What is more, most of the multile digital devices, little black dog social media and morepeople who report using multiple devices also report that they often begin shopping or research on one device and complete it on another. But what (if anything) does this imply for your marketing strategy?

This pattern means that you should be optimizing your website, social media profiles, blog, etc. for this kind of research and shopping activity. Your first thought might be that you are already “optimizing” your website six ways from Sunday. You might also wonder how many ways you can optimize your site without creating optimization conflicts. Optimizing for device-juggling should not be at odds with other ways you might be optimizing your website.

According to findings of a recent study commissioned by Facebook and conducted by research firm GfK:

  • Almost two-thirds (63%) of people use two or more devices in the course of a day
  • 21% use three or more devices during a day
  • The more devices a person owns, the more they juggle them to complete various tasks, often switching between devices mid-activity.
  • Overall, 40% of people switch devices part-way through a task.
  • Over half (54%) of those who own two devices switch midway between tasks, perhaps beginning to read an article on their smartphone but moving to read it on a tablet.
  • Switching is even more common among those with three or more devices – rising to 73%.

According to Facebook’s blog post about the research, “Most often, people start on a smartphone, then move to the bigger screen for reasons including the ease of typing on a larger device. Comfort and convenience are the main reasons people switch devices mid-activity, but the urgency of the task, the length of time involved, security and privacy concerns, and the level of detail required are other important considerations. And while switching devices can happen at work, in cafes and everywhere in between, it occurs most often at home in front of the TV, when all devices are within easy reach.”

multi-device users, little black dog social media

Unless you have completely missed the mobile revolution, your website already should be optimized for mobile – either with a discrete mobile site or by utilizing responsive design. The first step in optimization for device-jugglers is to ensure a consistent user experience across devices. Obviously, you want  visitors to your business or personal website to have access to the same images and content. Further, you want the full functionality of your website (no matter how simple or complex) available to users on all devices.

If your website uses responsive design, a seamless transition in user experience should be in place. If, however, you are using separate mobile and desktop/laptop websites, you must ensure consistency of experience, visual impact and content readability in both contexts. Further, navigation of the site must also be consistent and comfortable. This requires consistent site structure and navigation bars on all devices. The specific unique need of device-juggling users is relative ease of returning to where they left off when they changed devices. It is very frustrating to find oneself navigating blindly and trying to return to an article, blog post, page, or form to complete a purchase.

Cross device research and purchasing little back dog socialmedia

Some recent research has illuminated the different ways people use different devices when shopping, researching, etc. As additional data makes these insights more reliable, you might find that you can provide unique yet consistent experiences for each device.  The Facebook study, for example, found that “In general the smartphone is considered the go-to device; 76% of adults who own one use it while they are out and about. It is always present and used most commonly for communication and social activity. The tablet is viewed as the entertainment hub and is often used at home, where 43% of tablets are shared with others. The laptop or desktop is the workhorse — 80% of online adults that own one use it at home, and it tends to be dedicated to important tasks like work or managing finances.”

It is interesting to note that in December 2013, MarketingCharts reported findings about tablet use as a replacement for desktop and laptop computers. The study found that “Tablets are often discussed as a potential replacement for PCs, and a new survey[download page] from Adroit Digital finds that 55% of respondents who own both devices would consider purchasing a tablet as a replacement for their personal laptop or desktop. The study takes a look at some key activities that are being shifted from computers to tablets, finding that half of respondents said they’re now using their tablets instead of their computers to look up product information as well as research products and services.”

Activities Performed on Tablets - little black dog social media

The bottom line is this: as you optimize for SEO and for social sharing, and all the other things, remember to optimize for the device-juggling customer. At the very least, your website and any versions you might have must be optimized for mobile devices and must provide a consistent user experience across all devices, as well as a clear navigation path back to where the user left off when s/he switched devices.

You can embrace the device-juggling website user. Making the transitions easy and seamless will win appreciation at the very least. It might increase the average sale amount and the loyalty of your customers. If you need help with creating a website that is welcoming to all types of devices, call us (540-772-1724). We can help you succeed.

Romeos Tip of the Week week; Try to simplify the busy things in your life just a bit so that you can really live your life; it’s unbelievable the amount of stress you will rid yourself of.

stop3

Hello, everyone!
Have you ever heard of the old saying “Take time to stop and smell the roses” ? Do you know what it means? Simply put , it means don’t get so caught up in the day to day busy stuff that you forget about stopthe stuff that’s most important.
Life doesn’t stand still while you are rushing through every single day wishing there were more hours to get everything done. There are basics in life that we need to take care of; a roof over our head, food on the table, clean water, electricity and some clothes on our back.
stop2Of course in today’s economy that can be a mountain of a task. Between extra hours to earn a living and activities such as ballgames, dance class, gym workouts, time at church, and don’t forget all the time spent on smart phones and tablets, it can be difficult to find time for just yourself and/or family.
Have we gotten so caught up in a world of technology that we have forgotten thQBAXZ0E8the importance of spending time with each other. How many of you actually take the time to sit down and talk with your children? They may act like they don’t want to talk with you but they actually really want you to be interested in their thoughts and happenings of their day ( talking not lecturing). It’s hard to find that healthy balance between responsibilities and special time together. But before you know it they will be grown and off to live their life and you may wonder where did time go.
thBCOGRUB7
Don’t let life pass you by. Take time to watch a sunset, listen to the laughter of a child, walk through a forest trail and look at Mother Nature’s splendor, ” smell the roses”, live life. Maybe you can’t do those things on a daily basis, so set a little time aside each week for quiet special moments. You owe it to yourself.
thR9M167CH
My tip this week; try to simplify the busy things in your life just a bit so that you can really live your life; it’s unbelievable the amount of stress you will rid yourself of.
Have a great week!
Romeo the little black dog