A Cold Day in November – Original Poem

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By Mark A. Leon

It was a cold day in November

Winds fought our journey down the river with the force of an army of thousands
Piercing through our pores like venomous darts shot from behind the tall oak trees
Leaves of pink and oranges lay on the ground reminding us of a season passed

In a moment of playfulness, she straddled a fallen branch.  Head to toe in a long black overcoat and hat.  So beautiful; so youthful

For an instance I saw a little girl with a smile of innocence
Ready to play in the swift autumn freeze

It was a cold day in November

Mountains closed in fear of icy danger ahead
Rocky waves spiral the water down the river bend

I caught her faint screams, “Come on, let’s play by the river”
She ran and leaped over branches without delay
Beating the winds and winning the race

I caught up and felt the rush of a long hug at the finish line
She smiled
Cold and fragile
Happy and safe

river2Alone, just the two of us
The creatures of the forest hibernating
Waiting for warmer times

We were two kids escaping for a little while into a world we created
Filled with color, sounds of brisk water and songs of the wind

On a cold day in November in Asheville, all was right

How to Succeed on Instagram Without Even Trying

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By Mark A. Leon

The magical phenomenon of Instagram has taken the world by storm.  Are we truly surprised at its overnight success?  As humans, our response to visual stimuli is much higher than audio, verbal or context.  It is under the umbrella of one of the largest digital firms in the world.  It lets us become magicians without needing the expertise of Photoshop.

I think we have explained that spike in popularity.

But what makes one Instagram grow faster than another?

What makes one have a higher engagement level?

Disclaimer:  Now, before I go on, let’s throw out the established brands, the celebrities, athletes and “what do we call reality stars these days”?  This is normal folks that live normal lives every day.

Next, let’s eliminate those that “buy” followers.  How can you tell someone that “buys” followers?  Very simple.  If they go from 150 to 1500 in a matter of two minutes, purchased!!!  If they show that instant growth, but total engagement does not increase at the same rate, purchased!!!!

Engagement Definition

For those that do not understand engagement, let us explain.  Engagement is when you take the total number of engagements (likes and comments) and divided by the total number of followers.

Example: You have 1000 followers.  You post a picture that gets 100 likes and 10 comments.  Your total engagement is 110/1000 or 11%.  So 11% of your followers are interested in your post.  In social, we often mistake raw numbers for success.  Engagement is the critical element you want to pay attention to.

If I have 50,000 followers and 500 likes, that is only 1% engagement.  If I have 5000 followers and 500 likes, that is 10%.  I’ll take the second option anytime.  That just means higher conversion to whatever message, idea, product or service I am selling.

insta1Now the reason you are all here:  How do I maximize my engagement and continue strong organic growth?

  • Quality.  Whether it is 1900 AD or 3000 AD, quality will always be critical to success.  I don’t care if you are sharing a picture of the cutest dog in the world.  If it is blurry, you won’t get the interest.
  • Respect your community.  Community is everything.  Every follower is choosing you because you have something they can relate too and thus want to be part of your “community”.  Don’t post and ignore.  Respond to comments, engage with your followers.  Show them it is a two-way street.
  • Variety and diversification.  If you are selling tires that is great.  If you put a picture of a tire up every day for 100 days, you will lose more than you will gain.  People want variety.  They want change.  Put the tire in a hat.  Dress one up as Santa.  Get creative.
  • Don’t post more than twice a day.  Over-saturation of anything is bad.  Think about those spam emails.  I think you understand.
  • Timing.  If nothing else, pay very close attention to this bullet point.  Timing is so important in your strategy for success.  So when is the best time to post?  Glad you asked.
    • Weekend and mid-day week day are bad.  If you are in a holiday or vacation spot, even worse for weekends.  People are out on weekends and working during the week days.  Yes, they have their smartphones that never leave their side, understood.  Honestly, with staff meetings, desk audits and Pokemon searches, it is hard to keep up with Instagram during those times.
    • Mornings and evenings between 8 PM and 11 PM are big success times.  When we wake up, Instagram.  When we are home eating or watching commercials, we Instagram.  Between innings of the game, we Instagram.  Having that special alone time on the toilet, Instagram.
    • Bonus:  If you post between 9:30 PM and 11:00 PM, you have the carry over effect.  That means you will get a push in the evening and then a follow up in the morning for those that missed it due to the late posting time.
    • One thing to keep in mind is that most brands are regional (local).  If you are focused on an international audience, these rules do not apply due to time zone differences.
  • Keep it clean – We clean our rooms, our kitchen, bathroom, cubicle, office and car.  Why not keep your digital environment clean?  Hmmm, valid thought.  Every now and again, go through your posts and delete those that have lost relevance and treat your account as a re-birth every few weeks or months.

There we have it, your simple tips to a successful Instagram account.  Be creative, diversify, respect your community and most of all, have fun.

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My Emancipation – Original Poem

yoga1Stop, breathe, be still
It is the moments that freeze in time

Forced thought
Derived emotion
Filter out the bad to penetrate the good

This is my emancipation
I have loved

A flawed soul in a flawed world
In mistake, I have found fortune

A bounty of unconditional devotion
A river of enchantment that flows through this wonderland

I have scripted a blessing to each of you that has touched this delicate heart
A proclamation spelled with a hug
A letter to thank you. A letter not defined by its words, but a message of tenderness the requires only a tingle

In this life, I have cried the tears of happiness
For each of you has devoted a piece of your being so I may learn the art of appreciation

In this life, I have fallen
Each time I squirt at the sun, a hand of generosity lifts me

In this life, I have lost
Alone in an abyss of infinite existence only to be found

In this life, betrayal has been a shadow until I found the light

yoga2My being is a sculpted piece, unfinished
A work in progress
With chiseled corners, I take shape
Each touch brings the energy of life and closer to invincibility

This is my emancipation
My beginning
Let the masses hear my song
It is loud and pure; hopeful and alive

What a feeling this is
A personal zen

Antagonist of Life – Original Poem

dark1Deep in the swells of our hearts we are all waiting
Waiting for the end of the world

An ugliness of chaos and insanity swallowed up by despair and then nothing
Silence; existent void

We cannot stop time
Merely we can play with its emotions
Tingling, toying and declaring a statement of invincibility
We are but immortal fools

The clock ticks
Louder it seems

Time is running out on the bucket list
Once filled with sunshine, now drowning in sand

We throw props at our maker
Quoting his verse
Buying time with our riches
Like a force field without weakness, the brides bounce off

dark2Wrinkles entered uninvited
Settle until the lease runs dry

Philosophy takes flight
Fear death?
Fear unknown?
Acceptance
We look around for answers and only darkness is clear

It’s all forced agony
Life, the great antagonist
Rolling the dice and forcing your next move

I Don’t Want To Wait – Original Poem

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By Mark A. Leon

I don’t want to wait for you to burn the flame of stubbornness
For the slow penetrating disease to take control

Torn between creation and death

Pour the sweet rains of love upon me and let it shower my pours with the healing power

I don’t want to wait because life gets in the way
It is a road block with no way around
Quick sand gravitating to the nucleus of an abyss of no return

You are the one that cleans my wounds
Brings sunshine in a room of darkness

You are the one that protects me from my own demons
A guardian
A voice
A mirror to my heart

I don’t want to wait until the sign on the side of the road reads, next exit too late

It’s a trap
But we can avoid the cage of despair

kiss1I see freedom in your touch
Salvation in a blanket of hope
A pool of transparency filtering out hate
Inhaling love

I don’t want to wait any longer
You are my everything
A feeling I cannot deny
An everlasting gift waiting to be unwrapped

Metaphysical Journey – Original Poem

meta1It’s a metaphysical journey of impulse

A light glimmering through and optical lens of wonder

Blink once; uncover the light
Blink twice; the piercing of the skin
Taste the blood of life
Dripping off your tongue and nose diving in a gravitational roller coaster to feed the roots of new existence

The molecular structure of a flower bud coddled by the open arms of the sun

Continuing now

Stepping through the morsels of sand and looking back to see the history formed
A journey forward; a lesson back
The quest continues quenching a thirst and fueling a pursuit of the appetite of knowledge

Racing to the spherical ball of toxic flames
One step ahead, always
Run faster; dig deeper in the trenches of a great unknown

Closer look

met2The cowardly yellow ball is turning orange as millions of angelic flickering bodies chase it to the abyss of darkness

These heavenly bodies dance on the sound stage of the universe
A light show, naked and exposed, with an audience a million light years away

A day has come and gone in this metaphysical journey

The optical lens grows heavy
Fade to darkness; dream of the light

 

The Cycle of Raquel – Original Poem

lost1It is a whimsical cycle of love lost; love found; love lost; repeat
A playful tilt a whirl on the playground of life
A sandbox child trapped in a quicksand world

This is the story of the cycle of Raquel

Boy meets girl; souls collide
He knows; she knows
It’s a suicide mission volunteered with honor
The Devil laughs

In a promise made by two unspoken hearts, they agree to meet on the platform at sunrise
Station number two
All aboard the train of love, next stop is eternal bliss
She boards the west bound and he the east

The jukebox plays “Just Once” as the Devil fiddles off

Alone on the swing he sits watching a cinematic biography of what if
A life story played in IMAX 3D

lost2Soon she will arrive
Young and careful
A seeker of love and he with the key
A new face, new look and same feel

Together they will dance and sing and ride the cycle of Raquel
Soon sunlight will turn to snow

In the wings, the fiddler awaits tuning away for another day