There's No Place Like Home

Hello friends, fans, and followers. I write this to you from Fort Lauderdale airport. NYC obviously heard me complaining about how I didn’t want to leave South Florida and decided to help me stay here longer by raining so hard that all flights in/out of the area have got massive delays. Thanks, I guess? Although being stuck at an airport with terrible wifi isn't exactly what I was hoping for. Le sigh.

ANYWAYS. I just spent 10 days in sunny South Florida visiting old friends, places, and memories. And it was probably the best vacation I had in a long time. Although vacation seems like the wrong word, because the entire time I was down there I simply felt like I was finally back in my one true home. Florida has a strange way of doing that to me. 

I kicked my vacation off with my best bear in West Palm Beach at her parents’ house. We spent Memorial Day Weekend with some quality beach time, delicious beer, fancy feasts, and more gossip and girl chat than we should admit to. So that was pretty ideal.

After a few days in the suburbs, we packed up a car and headed down to our beloved Miami. It’s the place we first met and fell in best-friends-forever love, and we hadn't been down here together in close to three years. Needless to say, this trip was long overdue.

A very good friend of mine was going to be out of town and lovingly left me with keys to his downtown Miami apartment, so our living arrangements were set (complete with this awesome view). 

But I also decided to indulge and get myself a rental car. If you’ve ever been to Miami, you know that having your own wheels is crucial. Well, this was my first time having my own vehicle since I moved out of the 305 four years ago. And it was BLISS.

I jumped at the chance to take all of my most favorite drives around the city: to Coral Gables, to UM campus, to Key Biscayne, to Miami Beach, and more. I could've spent the entire 6 days just driving around in that car. There’s something about cruising around Miami with the windows rolled down and the volume turned up that will always make me feel right at home. 

On my way back home from a paddle boarding session on Key Biscayne, I had the wind in my hair, the sun on my face, and it really felt as if I had never even left. When I stopped at the local Publix to grab some groceries and successfully gave directions to a stranger in Spanish, I started to REALLY become convinced that I had never left and that the past 4 years in NYC must have been a very elaborate dream. A very, VERY elaborate, bank-account-sucking dream.

Isn't it strange how a place that you only lived in for a few years can feel so much like home? I suppose it's more about the life that I built in that place than the place itself. Miami was the first place I had lived without the safety net of my family. It was the first place I had the freedom to establish myself as the person I really wanted to be. It was the first place I built my own home in, had my own car in, held down my first industry-related job in, had my heart broken in, and more. It is the place where I really grew into myself. And for that reason, it will always hold a very special place in my heart.

I don’t know if it was the intense sense of independence I felt all week, or just being back on my old stomping grounds, or the high of too much vitamin D and sunshine I seemed to be riding, or the love I felt being surrounded by so many of my favorite people, or a combination of all of the above, BUT…. it’s been a long time since I’ve felt this healthy, productive, motivated, and just generally happy. 

I’m coming back from this trip feeling totally refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to hit the ground running. And boy-oh-boy do I need to hit the ground running. This month is jam packed with setting up a new business, moving to Jersey, and bringing on a few new clients for my digital strategy business. BRING IT, JUNE.

As sad as I am to be leaving South Florida, I am very, very excited to get back to reality and start shifting into the next chapter of my life. This trip has been a perfect reminder of all the things I’ve already done, how far I’ve come, and just how many people (near and far) there are in my life who have ALWAYS supported me and continue to do so.

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Miami, no matter what, will always feel like home to me. And there’s no place like home.

I will miss my South Florida fam tons, but this little bear has gotta get back to her NYC grind. The sooner I get back to my grind, the sooner I can come back down and play some more. What better motivation could I possibly ask for?

Soaking up some last rays of sunshine,
xx Nik

ProTips: Facebook

Hello friends, fans, and followers! We are bringing back my best tips and tricks for digital strategy, online marketing, social media, and all things related to being a solopreneur in weekly Business + Entrepreneurship posts. Woo! Celebrate! *pops the bubbly*

To kick things off, I’m doing a quick mini-series with my best “pro tips” for some of the biggest and most popular social media outlets. Over the next few weeks I’ll be explaining some common mistakes to avoid, sneaky shortcuts to try, cool features to check out, and more for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, Vine, and Snapchat. Oh yeah - we're covering all the bases. So be sure to check back every Wednesday for a fresh post.

This week we’re starting with Facebook (obviously). So let’s jump right in!

Some Background Info

Facebook is one of the most popular social networks of the day. What started as a platform for college students quickly became a social network for college students, high school students, recent + ancient alumni, moms/dads, grandparents, professionals, businesses, brands, non-profit organizations and much, much more. 

Facebook has made keeping up to date on what’s happening with friends and companies almost too easy. And it’s changed quite a bit over the years! For a platform that is only just barely a decade old, it’s probably seen the most rapid growth and change over the past 10 years than any other online business around.

I remember when I first joined Facebook (way back in 2006), commenting on posts was not even an option yet and there was a 60 photo limit on every photo album you created. Anybody else remember those days? Anybody else spends hours on end cackling maniacally as you and your bestie took over each other’s walls with stupid banter? It’s ok, you can admit it. This is a safe space.

Today, Facebook is used as a source for getting your local + world news updates, keeping tabs on friends near + far, researching new brands + businesses, promoting your own brand/business, storing + sharing photos, and more. It’s also frequently seen as a platform for debate on any topic imaginable. It truly is the digital soapbox of our age, and whether the message you have to share is profound or frivolous, popular or unpopular, you can always count on Facebook to help you voice it.

Profiles vs. Pages

There seems to be a lot of confusion about the difference between Profiles and Pages on Facebook, so I thought I’d take a quick minute to talk about that and which one(s) are right for your needs.

Put simply: Profiles are for individual human beings, while Pages are used for brands, businesses, and organizations. 

Under one Facebook Account you can only have one Profile, but many Pages. For example: I have only one Nicole Pamani Profile, but I have pages for various businesses and brands I manage, including my own npamani Page.

To see what a person posts to their Profile, you can either send them a Friend Request (if approved, this grants you access to their private and public posts) or Follow them (you can only see what they choose to share publicly). Contrastingly, all Page posts are automatically made public and fans can opt to Like the page to have all updates delivered straight to their Newsfeed.

What’s a Newsfeed?

Your Newsfeed is essentially the home page for your Facebook account. It aggregates updates from all your friends’ Profiles, any Profiles you have chosen to follow, and any Pages you have chosen to Like. It’s constantly updating itself and is organized on what I like to call a smart-timeline.

Basically, your Newsfeed contains the most recent stories but is sometimes tweaked based on things that are popular in your network, things that are trending, things that have been commented recently, or things that might be of high importance to you based on your most frequent interactions. It’s a very smart platform that keeps tabs on how you’re using it and aims to deliver highly relevant content to you specifically. This smart technology can also be seen applied in the wide range of Facebook ads that are displayed in the right sidebar for varying types of users.

What are people sharing?

Facebook is, in my opinion, the ultimate platform for sharing all kinds of content because there are really no limits on what you can share on it. Everything from your current mood to photos to videos to interesting articles to popular/unpopular opinions to events and more has a place on Facebook. 

It’s also incredibly easy to integrate with other social media outlets and online platforms. Not only can you have your latest Instagram photos posted to your Timeline automatically, but in many cases you can also leave comments on articles ‘round the web without having to build a third party gravatar or account. 

How are businesses, brands, and organizations using Facebook?

Because Facebook is such a wildly popular social platform, I’d say that building an engaged Facebook community is probably one of the most important parts of your brand’s social media marketing strategy. And it’s fairly easy to do. Setting up the actual Page is pretty straight forward: create the page, upload photos, insert descriptions, add website URL, invite Friends to Like your page, done.

Once you’ve got the skeleton of your Page setup it’s time to start sharing content. Content, as described earlier, can be just about anything: status updates, coupons/discount codes, behind the scenes photos, sneak peek trailers, industry-related articles, blog posts, etc. The more content you share and the more regularly you do it, the better your digital reputation is and the more reliable you seem in the eyes of the consumer. Picking a posting schedule that feels manageable for you while satisfying the needs of your fans can be tricky, but it's nothing that a little trial and error can't solve.

But aside from being a place to feature your own content, your Page is a place for your fans to interact with you and each other. It’s a forum for discussion, a place to answer questions, a hub to collect feedback, a lab in which to conduct field research, a microscope to examine your demographic, and a home to convert fans into loyal customers.

Additionally, built into every Facebook Page are a number of advertising, tracking, and measurement tools. Facebook Insights provide truly spectacular information on the demographics you are reaching: gender, age, location, mobile/desktop users, active times, and more. Facebook Advertising is available for any/all posts made to your timeline with a few simple clicks, starting with the “Boost Post” button. As an admin, you can see a post’s reach listed right below it. All of these tools are very easy to use and make tracking your social media marketing efforts accessible and intuitive.

Like I said, Facebook has changed dramatically since it’s inception. What started as a platform for connecting college students has become a hard-to-ignore player in the world of digital marketing for businesses and brands.

A few helpful reminders:

+ Always upload an appropriately sized profile and cover photo. (At the time of publication, the ideal Facebook sizes are 180x180 pixels for profile photos, and 851x315 pixels for cover photos.)
+ Fill out your About section with as much detail as possible, especially on Pages! And don’t forget to add a link to your website too.
+ Find Friends by searching your email contacts or adding various places you’ve studied/worked in the past. It’s amazing what you might find. My parents have both used Facebook to reconnect with long lost friends from their schools and colleges in India.
+ Integrate other social media accounts with your Facebook for automatic, dual posting. Some popular ones are Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Vine. 
+ Be sure to Like pages for your favorite businesses, brands, and organizations. It’s the best way to stay in the loop on important updates, announcements, discounts, and more. (Click like on npamani here to stay in the know with my biz + blog.)

Phew. That was a lot of information. I hope that you found this post helpful and are ready to go out there and create or revamp your Facebook Profile/Page! 

Got a question? Want to see more posts about Facebook and the many ways to use it? Drop a comment below! I always love hearing from you guys.

And if you’re struggling to get your social media presence off the ground, be sure to nab my free guide: 5 Steps to Jumpstart Your Social Media Presence.

Until next time,
xx Nik

TunesDaze: May 2015

Greetings from sunny Florida! I hope that you guys all had a fantastic Memorial Day Weekend filled with relaxation, chilled beer, and delicious BBQ.

It's the last Tuesday of the month (how did we get through May so fast?!) so I'm here to share some of my favorite tracks from the past few weeks. Don't forget to check out the tracklist below and share your musical obsessions in the comments!

Need fresh tunes on the reg? Follow me on HypeMachine to stalk my musical discoveries as they happen.

xx Nik

TRACKLIST:
1. Feeling Myself (Marlin Remix) - Nicki Minaj & Beyonce
2. Peanut Butter Jelly - Galantis
3. Prints of Whales (feat. PB Kaya) - TACHES
4. Found Your Love (feat. Heir) - Oliver Nelson
5. Something About You - Hayden James
6. Hard Twelve (The Ante) - Beat Assailant
7. Bitch Better Have My Money (Claude VonStroke Remix) - Rihanna
8. Embrace (feat. George Maple) - Goldroom
9. Crank It Up - HI-LO
10. 2AM (Matoma Remix) - Astrid S.