Tag Archive for 'social media'

the power of graphic design

Eiffel tower peace sign

How Visuals Convey Meaning

Jean Jullien is a French graphic designer and illustrator. Following the murderous November 13th attacks on Paris civilians, he did what he does best – illustrate.

The simple graphic that emerged from his brush and ink rendering was instantly adopted by social media as the world’s rallying symbol against the horror unleashed by lunatics intent on carnage. Recognizable, emotional, symbolic, evocative. Follow your heart.

what’s flickr done lately? plenty!

Flickr Fills Social Media Marketing’s Bill

Flickr’s had an on-again, off-again relationship with photographers over the years. What started as a stand-alone cloud service that debuted in 2004 and catered to the professional market with a paid option, was pushed to the background after being acquired by Yahoo in 2005 right before the dot-com bubble popped.

When Yahoo hired Marissa Mayer as CEO to shake up the troubled social-news-entertainment-search URL, she moved quickly to revamp the languishing asset, turning it into what it is today – a fully functional resource for all photographers that offers 1TB of free storage to every Flickr member.

no shortage of online storage options

While there’s no shortage of free storage silos – from Apple to Google to Dropbox and more – Flickr’s got a lot more going for it than just online access.

The latest round of upgrades features a fresh textual filter that allows selective image recognition filtering even if the image isn’t tagged with matching text. Your search term “red tomato” is recognized even if the red tomato isn’t tagged. Green wheelbarrow? Covered. And the returns are quick, no waiting in line.

Earlier this year they debuted Camera Roll, a feature that automatically displays a user’s images chronologically that also packs a powerful search punch, while automatic grouping of images on upload is another tweak aimed at promoting greater utilization and engagement.

Fresh mobile apps are also coming out, making the continued transformation from what began as a storage solution into a fully implemented social channel a reality that while it doesn’t pose a threat to Facebook operates perfectly within its own sphere of devotees.

social media marketing metadata options

When a user takes the time and has the insight to implement the powerful metadata opportunities offered by the service, Flickr becomes a social media marketing superhero. By taking advantage of albums for event grouping, headline, location, description, and various other available tags, users turn visual content into easily searchable content that can stand alone as unique content or be cross-referenced to bolster online content elsewhere.

Power users like Josh Hallett’s hyku stream, with over 25,000 images online, illustrate how adept Flickr is at dealing with quantity.

The Commons project is Flickr’s collection of free public domain imagery from the Library of Congress and other sources. Flickr can also filter Creative Commons licenses, including free to use with various restrictions.

For me, Flickr is the perfect still companion to YouTube’s emphasis on video, and a solid addition to a well-rounded social media marketing strategy.

when it snows it pours

pinellas-cty-tourism.png

Selfie Marketing Pitch Popular

Florida’s Pinellas County is the most densely populated county in the state. It’s also the smallest, but that has never affected its ability to draw tourists from around the globe, intent on visiting world-class beaches from Caladisi Island State Park on the northern end to Fort Desoto County Park guarding the entrance to Tampa Bay.

With gas prices at their lowest level in years, an economy that’s on the rebound for the first time in years, and a brutal winter that continues to lash the northeast, convincing northerners to turn their wanderlust into momentum and head south isn’t a heavy lift.

Will Winter Ever End?

Nonetheless, Pinellas County’s marketing arm, Visit St. Pete-Clearwater, came up with a rock solid bit of creative when they launched a campaign centered around a family of nomadic snowmen who began showing up in slush and dirty snow blanketed New York and Chicago.

The edgy “WinterBlows” campaign plants irresistible (and guaranteed to have lines forming for selfies) faux snowmen on the sidewalks displaying sandwich boards headlined “Sunshine or bust!” and the WinterBlows.com URL.

Is it working? I’d have to say yes, considering how congested the main two-lane north-south beach artery, Gulf Boulevard, has become in recent days. There’s nothing that can match a smart, well executed, marketing solution.

need social visuals? find a designer!

For Effective Design Get Professional Talent

graphic design is fundamental for great visual contentI can say with full confidence that every list ever written promising content tips for improving your social media message, including blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, will include a requirement for “great visuals”. It’s not a heavy lift to reach that fundamental conclusion. And it usually ends up as simple lip-service from the aesthetically challenged herd of faux authorities.

How Might One Find Great Visual Content?

Achieving that lofty goal gets real murky real fast. There’s very seldom a follow-up suggestion as to how exciting art is actually created, or how to make the design judgements that are the DNA of an art director’s job description.

Your friends won’t tell you, but I will: ugly doesn’t improve with time.

It’s as if those great visuals so easily referenced as the mother’s milk of social media marketing are created with the wave of an intern’s magic kittens and string GIF wand or by HR invoking a binding PNG spell.

Reality? Effective art isn’t an off-the-shelf commodity. It’s specialized talent that knows there’s never, ever a time to use Comic Sans. Or that Bevel and Emboss with Texture, added to an obscure Microsoft Office font derived logotype of sorts, doesn’t so much sing in glorious brand originality as cry out in eyeball searing pain that’s simultaneously embarrassing to everyone but the creator and destructive to the goal of encouraging commerce.

Your friends won’t tell you, but I will: ugly doesn’t improve with time.

Original Graphic Design For Great Content

Within the context of social media, visuals are usually derived from photographs, illustrations, or a combination of the two. They can be used as is or modified, combined, or sampled and combined with type elements and shapes. This series of PRSA event promos I designed illustrates the point.

Colors can be shifted, shapes and objects distorted. The best visuals are unique to their specific environment, not sloppily used warmed over leftovers. From social cover art and profile badges to press release supplements and web site assets, creative visual is not only desirable, but essential.

The Difference? Superior Engagement Versus Abandonment

And where are the sources for that exceptional visual content everyone is looking for? Begin with a creative director for concepts and execution. Art directors turn an idea into a finished product using various visuals, distinctive styles, and element arrangements. Pick a copywriter for a well turned phrase or snappy tagline that can catapult a campaign. Graphic designers. Illustrators. Photographers. Typographers. All play a strategic role in creating effective content of value.

So while everyone pretty much understands the role of visual content and what it brings to a message, greatness is achieved through actual talent and training, not just by proclaiming the task done and hoping for the best.

As the saying goes, go big or go home.

facebook says party’s over

Brand reach plummeted after Facebook hit the brakes on organic.

Ogilvy Social describes how brand reach plummeted after Facebook hit the brakes on organic.

Brands, Markets, Budgets Strategy

Once not so very long ago, retail business had a narrow choice of media for advertising and marketing; the Yellow Pages, newspapers, and broadcast. Depending on the size of the market, a newspaper or two may have offered competitive rates, along with radio and t.v. But unless your business was cars, clothes, furniture or groceries, it was pretty much hit or miss.

As broadband began rolling out there was a brief moment when print was cruising laid back at altitude while digital media was taxiing for takeoff. Didn’t last long. Overnight, print and the public airwaves found themselves powerless to head off the rush to the exits by marketers chasing the promise of free forever online homesteads. Woot. Continue reading ‘facebook says party’s over’

twitter turns eight – my first tweet

Twitter Memories Start Here

I wasn’t there at the very beginning but it didn’t take me long to jump on board!

The Telegraph wants you to know what other first time Twitterers tweeted here.

facebook and google get aired out

Facebook and Google battle for the same audience. Do you need both?

Facebook and Google battle for the same audience. Do you need both?

Facebook Caught Padding Paid Likes

A video critique posted by web site skeptic Veratasium on how Facebook is at the very least midleading business pages seeking to increase their page likes struck a nerve.

Facebook responded to Derek Muller’s claims by dismissing them. Here’s his Facebook page response to their dissembling: My response to Facebook’s response to me – fixed so you don’t have to solve a captcha to share.

Veratasium’s claims go into the hopper of debate over which is best for business, Facebook or Google+, neither or both. It’s a complex decision made more difficult for small businesses with neither the budget nor talent to support a dedicated online social effort.

It isn’t just an either or decision. Despite their respective shortcomings, read more on how both channels can be effective legs in a social marketing strategy in this comparison.

improve your social media campaign

38 Social Media Marketing Tips

Top Rank Online Marketing put together this handy Slideshare preso from top Social Media Marketing World 2014 presenters that’s full of tips and tricks to improve your social media campaign content and deployment. What I learned: use clicktotweet to add a direct link to your content page or post, just one of 38 useful ways to improve your content results.

social media for business

Mismanaged content meant the wrong kind of reach for this dealership.

Mismanaged content meant the wrong kind of reach for this dealership.

Your Business On Social – It’s Really Not Personal

I recently ended a six-month social media marketing consult for a powersports dealership that reps several metric makes, a domestic brand, and PWC and OHV inventory. Located in a large Southeastern market, they were having trouble making besties out of a neglected social media program.

Management depended on traditional automotive marketing techniques consisting of motivational training and clichéd slogans. Making matters worse was content posted by employees who didn’t understand that the approach required for a business page had nothing to do with their personal life online.

a waste of their money and my time

When I got involved the CMS vendor hired for site design and management had just set up an incomplete Google+ page and a lamentable blog. These “assets” joined a struggling Facebook timeline and an abandoned Twitter feed that, together with a local weekly bike night, made up a dysfunctional marketing strategy that defied the concept of content coordination.

The social goal was easily defined: increase organic growth, reach, and engagement using proven social media business techniques. In the end it was a waste of their money and my time.

Here are my Top Five Social Marketing Essentials: the minimum elements a social media marketing program needs to have any chance of success.

5) Management Engagement

Christmas in july 2

This ad for snowmobiles in Florida stayed up for months.

Would you expect to see snowmobiles sold in Florida? In July? This embarassing post by the client’s CMS vendor and web site IT, a well known powersports service provider, stayed up for weeks because management wouldn’t look at their own channels. I won’t comment on the use of transparent background PNGs against a lime green IMG background color.

Lesson? Stay engaged or risk the consequences.

4) Coordinate Activities

Social didn’t have a seat at the table when sales, promos, or events were planned. OEM marketing opportunities came and went without publicity. Result: a failure to connect using basic tools like page event apps to promote engagement and activity.

Further muddying the waters, multiple managers had independent control of multiple channels. Result? A total lack of content direction and coordination.

Lesson? Name one manager with authority for all content and the option to grant multiple contributors access to team functions.

3) Understand Social Stats

Facebook personal page used to drive likes

Personal friends list used to prop up skewed reach.

Stats can inform or mislead. When they’re manipulated, the result can be deceptive and misleading.

Despite a favorable (chart at top) 68% male-31% female fan mix, the reach skewed heavily towards women, not men. This disconnect is traceable to flawed post content by the lobby greeter’s attempt to pad metrics by polling her personal Facebook male friends for likes. This shifted the ratio alright, but only by creating a false positive that distorts the desired organic results and won’t fool Facebook.

Lesson? Manipulated stats disguise reality, lead to bad decisions based on false facts.

2) Understand How Social Media Works

Social marketing is about pull, not push. Understanding the general strengths and weaknesses is essential.

It’s a unique medium that requires regular care and feeding in the form of professional attention. Audience engagement can’t be forced; only quality content of interest will attract interaction.

Lesson? Quality content continues to be the prime ingredient in a successful social campaign.

1) Speak With One Voice

The number one requirement for a successful social marketing program? Speak professionally with one knowledgable voice.

The dealership’s in-house voice, a former barista with no motorcycle knowledge or minimal writing skill, is allowed to post disconnected content like the incoherent example below that clearly demonstrates why writing pros should be hired for social media messaging. (Subtitle: don’t write stoned.)

Off-roading enthusiasts love the adventures and the risks and adrenaline associated with it. Speaking with the novice portion of this crowd, one of the most commonly inquiries is, “Do you know where I can ride these?” It’s a very just question. Now a great place to cross off your bucket list is the Apalachicola National Forest. Located in the panhandle, there is 195,000 acres worth of lush, loamy nature. They conveniently have about 80% of their trails marked very well. However, it is also rumored to have many undiscovered trails with very little traffic. Yeah it’s a bit of a trip, but do ya really plan on staying at home for the rest of your life?

Lesson? Social programs too often see Nike’s success selling shoes as an easily copied meme. Reality? Without professional creative talent efforts aren’t just wasted, they’re counterproductive.

social channel growth: a job for pros

Don’t be this dealer. Commit to using the prestigious power of social media. Make it count. Engage your qualified market.

lululemon, cvs fumble crisis responses

cvs, lululemon battle for negative headlines

lululemon and cvs compete for negative headlines

Alternative fitness clothing manufacturer Lululemon’s troubles multiplied following one of the more colorful product glitches to make headlines. The Vancouver lifestyle darling’s line of yoga pants was revealed – yes – to have a manufacturing defect apparant only during down dog, a position that due to the fabric stretching across the wearer’s butt caused a sheer effect that revealed everything to whoever was behind the owner of said pants.

Meanwhile, drugstore chain giant CVS suffered major shots across the bow as a result of a particularly heavy-handed employee health policy that went viral. In order to access the company’s health insurance lowest rates, workers have to submit to a screening for obesity, hypertension, glucose, and several other tags that can signal problems.

problems of their own making

Both companies stumbled right out of the gate. Their failure to either forsee or immediately correct course is unfortunately all too typical of a corporate culture that continues to ignore how brand reputation is affected in the age of social media.

Despite increasingly common examples of how the medium can be leveraged for a positive result regardless of whether news is good or bad, simply ignoring the problem or trying to hammer an alternative outcome despite popular sentiment doesn’t work.

flash pants and worker shame linked to brands reps

For CVS, by far the more effective approach would be to offer employees free or discounted membership in a fitness facility, rather than exacting a two-bit nickel and dime penalty forcing workers to wear the “unhealthy” cone of shame. How does that motivate? If you’re obese, it’s usually no surprise.

For Lululemon, whose corporate rep is usually massaged by a themematic yoga chant as opposed to any heavy lifting, they stuttered and stammered before finally issuing a recall of the pricey flash pants with wording that bore an uncomfortable resemblance to the lame not-an-apology that begins with, “If we’ve offended anyone…”. But not until after the horse had floated over the dam trying to clean up the milk spilt.

3 steps to social management

  1. Be Prepared – have a team in place and empowered
  2. Be Alert – to what’s happening in real time
  3. Be Responsive – to the message that is, not the message you want



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