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As it is now, only 3 – 6% of our fans see our posts. And that’s an average. It could be more, but it could also be less.

 

As if that isn’t bad enough, Facebook is going to start limiting our posts even more. In less than a month, they will be punishing us for posts they deem as “too promotional”.

 

So… What are the new rules?

 

One – Your post needs to include some valuable content, and not just push a product.

 

Don’t – “Need a new desk for your office? Click this link and buy one now!”

 

Do – “We recently hired a world-renowned furniture designer to create the most innovative and efficient office desk ever built. Countless hours were dedicated to providing you with the organizational opportunities and functionality that have been missing in the design of the average office desk. We would love to offer you a great price on this great product!”

 

Two – Promotions and contests need some real content included in the post.

 

Facebook hasn’t been very clear regarding the guidelines they will follow for limiting these posts. It’s possible that they are referring to contests that you are promoting for others. These are often brief posts that don’t provide much information about the company and simply list the contest rules.

 

If you are posting or sharing contest information, we would recommend including or adding some personal information to the text. Example: “I love Bob’s Red Mill’s gluten free products. I have been buying them for several years now. I’m really excited about the baking contest they are having, and I’m planning on entering my brownie recipe. I wanted to share this with all my Facebook friends so you have a chance to enter, too!”

 

Three – Don’t plagiarize your own ad.

 

It’s never a good idea to copy and paste content, even if it belongs to you. Google will punish you for posting the same content on two blog sites, and now Facebook will punish you for duplicating the text from your ad into your post.

 

So… With all of these new restrictions, what are the benefits to using Facebook?

 

Facebook is a free open line of communication with your clients. It is social proof that you are available to them.

 

Being present on Facebook is also a great way to help your business rank in the search engines. Because Facebook is so popular, most businesses are easy to locate by typing in the name of a business and adding “Facebook” at the end of the name. Use Facebook to drive people to your website and encourage them to join your email list, if you have one.

 

Keep in mind, Facebook is still a free platform. Take a deep breath and try not to borrow trouble from tomorrow. Once the new rules are in force, we will help you sort out any issues and stay in touch with your clients!

 

by Cynthia McInvale

Social Media Manager

Although we haven’t posted in a while,

we are working hard to bring you great ideas regarding marketing strategies.

Our team has gathered to create a blog series full of valuable information!

New Marketing Ideas

While we finish that up, feel free to browse our archives.

gardening and pool

Ok, I admit… These are not images of my backyard. Mine is still under construction, but you get the idea.

For weeks we worked on the yard, installing a pool (what a nightmare that was), building our first garden, and plenty of other spring cleaning/home maintenance projects. As my husband’s birthday quickly approached, his inquiries of “whatcha gettin’ me?” became a dilemma for my girls and me. We were running low on money and room. So I decided that we were going to share memories instead… there’s always room for those! A few years ago, I created a family day in Chattanooga, utilizing some of the less expensive to free opportunities in the area and we will be talking about it for years to come. Keeping the trip short in distance, my mother and I performed a manual radius search for cities within a four hour drive. We settled upon Birmingham, Alabama which was surprisingly large, and filled with opportunities.

BirthdayAs birthday presents are commonly a surprise, I knew that the best way to hide the trip from the family was to “fake” a picnic. This saved money on food and gave a great reason for me to pack up the car Friday evening. I made Pinwheels, brought Doritos and the kids and I made deviled eggs. At the bottom of the cooler I stashed pre-scrambled eggs, pre-cooked sausage, cheese slices and burrito sized tortillas for breakfast burritos, to save money and time with breakfast. Early Saturday morning we piled into the car and as my husband pulled out of our driveway, he asks where we were headed, and I informed him… “Birmingham.” The car came to a sudden stop. Ha ha ha! “Surprise!”

One of the places I was anxious to share with my family was the Birmingham Botanical Garden. We had never been to a Botanical Garden and had only recently caught the Garden Bug. In our first year of gardening, I was researching EVERYTHING! My huge backyard was a blank canvas and we couldn’t wait to paint it! I knew that we would be inspired by our first stop… and I was right…

Birmingham Botanical Garden

Birmingham Botanical Garden

Birmingham Botanical Garden (Read about our experience and admission)

My original intention was to avoid paying for things on this trip unless necessary, so I had initially planned a trip to Liberty Park to see the miniature Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately, due to a faulty GPS application, I was forced to ask directions at a gas station. I had been misunderstood, and was fortunate to be directed to Vulcan Park & Museum.

Vulcan Park & Museum (A little about the statue that saved a community and admittance fees)

On our journey, we drove past the Sloss Furnace which Michael had seen on an episode of Ghost Adventures. Upon his mentioning it, I  was excited to provided a hint about staying in Birmingham overnight by saying, “we’ll see it tomorrow,” nonchalantly. A brief look of confusion confirmed that I had kept my secret well. He was astonished that I had already made reservations!

The Vulcan

The Vulcan

At this point it was time to stop for a taste of culture at the Birmingham Museum of Art. Incredible art and historical pieces line the walls of this three story display; time for more inspiration!

Birmingham Museum of Art (A bit of info you may need before arriving)

By the time we were finished at the museum my family was already dragging their feet. Exhausted from the excitement and walking, my family was sure to sleep well that night! So we set course to the Extended Stay America where I had booked a room. Keep in mind that Birmingham was built for Birmingham residents and finding a street sign is nearly impossible. The GPS gets confused as well, so I suggest calling for directions once you’ve found a street sign or two.

Regardless of any future street sign difficulties that may challenge me in the future, Extended Stay will always be the first hotel I look for when we travel! One full sized bed, a pull out couch, full bath, full kitchen, wi-fi, cable on a flat screen, grab-n-go breakfast, laundry, pet-friendly… I could continue. I couldn’t have asked for more for such a low price! The room was clean and the employees were very helpful! Don’t forget to check out the great information Extended Stay provides about Birmingham, Alabama.

The excitement wore down,  and our hunger grew deeper. Since we are fans of The Big Bang Theory, what better place to eat dinner than The Cheesecake Factory across the road?

The Cheesecake Factory (Our experience with the food and staff)

The Cheesecake Factory

The Cheesecake Factory

After the meal, we were ready to kick off our shoes and enjoy some cable-in-bed. The following morning, we quickly packed up only leaving behind “Oscar,” the aluminum plant belonging to my youngest from the Birmingham Botanical Garden.

With “help” from the GPS system, we headed off to Orr Park. When I first mentioned that we were going to drive 30 minutes to a park, my family thought I’d lost my mind. After all, I am a very busy woman and work hard at saving time; I would walk a mile if it would save me 20 minutes. However, Orr Park was special…

Orr Park

Orr Park

Orr Park (Why I was looking forward to it)

At the end of the weekend, I felt that I had accomplished the impossible! I surprised my family, of four, with a weekend getaway, plenty of sites, great food and a night in a hotel for a little more than $200! (Gas prices – not included.) Adjust the plan however you need in order to fit your circumstance, but I recommend a trip to Birmingham, Alabama!

Birmingham Botanical Gardens = Free

Lunch (homemade) = Almost Free

Cost of admission to The Vulcan, a family of four = $22

Birmingham Museum of Art=Free

Extended Stay = Including taxes and additional fees, $80

The Cheesecake Factory = Approximately $100

(The trip is where you save money; tip your waiter well.)

Sloss Furnace = Free

Orr Park = Free

               Resources:

“All About the Blizzard of ’93.” Alabama WX Weather Blog. http://www.alabamawx.com/?p=1201

Birmingham Alabama, official website. http://www.informationbirmingham.com/

Birmingham Botanical Gardens. http://www.bbgardens.org/index2.php

Birmingham Museum of Art. http://www.artsbma.org/

Extended Stay America. http://www.extendedstayamerica.com/?mid=ps-nbran-geo-goo-

“Orr Park.” Shelby County Tourism. http://www.shelbycountytourism.org/Facilities.aspx?Page=detail&RID=102

“Orr Park – Montevallo, Alabama.” Explore Southern History. http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/orrpark.html

Roadside America. http://www.roadsideamerica.com/

“Sloss Furnaces.” Ghost Adventures. http://www.travelchannel.com/tv-shows/ghost-adventures/episodes/sloss-furnaces

Sloss Furnaces Nat’l Historic Landmark. http://slossfurnaces.com/

The Big Bang Theory. http://the-big-bang-theory.com/

The Cheesecake Factory. http://www.extendedstayamerica.com/?mid=ps-nbran-geo-goo-

Vulcan Park & Museum. http://visitvulcan.com/

“Vulcan the Iron Man.” Roadside America. http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2011

Botanical Garden Pond

Botanical Garden Pond

After three hours of driving, we arrived at our first loosely scheduled stop… The Birmingham Botanical Gardens (don’t forget your camera, walking shoes and a water bottle)! We found the seemingly secluded garden; a quiet escape in the center of big city traffic. By simply opening the door, the fragrance flooded the car. I suggest picking up a map from the Garden Center before entering the maze of pathways. However, we were excited! We rushed past the Garden Center and through the main gate where we were greeted by art, lush vegetation, and flowers! We quietly maneuvered past a wedding while attempting not to photo-bomb bridal shots

Natural and paved paths guide visitors through hostas, trees, flowers, and ferns which were all well labeled; I was able to take note of a few favorite plants for our ongoing garden plans! Bridges, gazebos and pagodas are positioned throughout the garden with benches of all shapes and sizes for those of us that need a breather.

Botanical Garden Greenhouse

Botanical Garden Greenhouse

The greenhouse was educational for the girls as they felt the difference in the air between the rainforest atmosphere to the desert heat. An employee stood at a table, assisting visitors with planting “Aluminum” plants to take home for free as well as providing Alabama Wildflower packets and Botanical Garden temporary tattoos.

The cacti were in full bloom, as was almost everything else during our visit! As we walked past a pond, my 9 year old peered hopeful over the edge in search of life. Expecting koi, or simply water bugs, she announced “Tadpoles!” I mistakenly expressed my doubt, as she informed me otherwise. It would be worth it to drive back in the summer to see them hopping from one lily pad to another! We were able to see approximately half of the garden before we realized it was time for lunch and the kids can only take the peace and quiet for so long. So if you want to see the whole thing, be prepared to spend three hours or bring food and spend the day! We had a great time!

Admission = Free

The Vulcan stands 56 feet tall on a 12-story tower.

The Vulcan stands 56 feet tall on a 12-story tower.

Our Trip to Vulcan Park

Upon arrival, my husband was astounded at the site and immediately stated that he wanted to go to the top! With the excitement pouring from his tense grip on the wheel as he stretched to see more, our picnic was immediately relocated! We bought tickets and grabbed a couple of scavenger hunt pages, toted our cooler to the picnic area and dodged bumble bees between bites. After tossing the leftovers back into the car, we began our tour of The Vulcan with the Visitors Center which explains the history. There is so much more to learn about the world’s largest cast iron statue! The reason he was built, where he’s traveled, and the controversy of “the bare bottom” can be found on Roadside America.

Anytime we leave town, I research our destination by starting with Roadside America. We’ve even found a few interesting things by researching Cleveland, Tennessee (our home). I highly suggest utilizing their services! (Read the most recent comments and research through other sites since some articles may be out of date.)

 

 

The Vulcan View

The Vulcan View

After getting to know The Vulcan, we began our ascent to the top; some may argue that it’s a “hike” to the top. My youngest and I took the glass elevator and arrived with plenty of time to watch as my oldest daughter and husband crawled from the staircase (they took the elevator to return to the ground).

The site overlooking Birmingham was incredible! The platform is open with only a grated style floor and bars that stand approximately 4 feet high. My youngest clung to the railing and stayed near the elevator. The platform floor is grated and you can see the stone ground, far below. So, I may not recommend this to those with a fear of heights.

Admission

Adult = $6

Seniors (65+)/Military = $5

Children Ages 5 – 12 = $4

Children 4 Years and Under = Free