Have you ever clicked open a marketing email you’ve subscribed to — I use Apple Mail, but other email clients like Outlook are also affected — only to discover those email newsletters aren’t loading the images that are integral to the message? When the images that form the heart and soul of structured email content aren’t displaying, showing up as only a question mark on a blue background, it’s a big problem for both sender and recipient.
If you’re using a web browser for email; Gmail, Yahoo, etc., then this isn’t a problem. It may be, though, for anyone using a desktop client to retrieve their mail.
In what can only be described as a Christmas miracle, perhaps the single most momentous event since Lazarus emerged intact, comes news of the acquisition of defunct trade pub label Dealernews by a midwest consortium, DN 2.0, headed up by Columbus, OH Harley-Davidson franchisee Bob Althoff.
“What we are doing is unprecedented in the powersports industry.”
“What we are doing is unprecedented in the powersports industry,” says the owner of three OEM dealerships. The plan for DN 2.0 is apparently to restore what was lost during the mid-2000’s heyday by recalling editorial staff and management from the brand inherited by UBM in 2015 when they purchased Advanstar and which was then abruptly shuttered.
Relaunch Has New Focus, Reach
The revived brand will ostensibly be guided by an advisory board made up from a number of well-known powersports single and multi-line dealer heads, industry consultants, and communications veterans. Will it make a difference? The field of national powersports trade publications has shrunk from five to two over the last decade as social media channels have proliferated and advertising options have multiplied. For many, that constitutes a trend.
As I grow increasingly comfortable with online shopping as an alternative to chasing hard to find items in brick and mortar storefronts, rationalizing clik to add to shopping cart becomes easier and easier as the cost of shipping tumbles. Then came Amazon Prime.
Amazon Prime is by all indications a very effective loss leader in the effort to tether consumers to mega-site Amazon for all their internet purchases. Patterned after the big box membership warehouse experience, Prime, for a modest annual fee, delivers not only free 2-day shipping on most items, but includes a bunch of other perks as well.
The price is right – for as long as it can last.
The included music feed is perfectly acceptable, eliminating having to subscribe to Pandora, Spotify, or Radio for a premium listening experience. Ditto access to online t.v. content, books, and a number of other features that save time and/or money.
I just discovered that a number of familiar, favorite, and free periodicals are available as well, viewable online or as downloaded Kindle content. Which is how I came across Cycle World, Bonnier’s flagship pub in their motorcycle group stable of powersports publications, as a free read on Amazon.
I’m not sure how the business model for offering up your vanguard bike magazine for free reading moves the bottom line needle. It’s not an option you’d expect to find in a typical subscription pitch; “12 Whole Issues For One Year’s Worth of Reading Only Zero Dollars and Zero Cents!”
Since consolidating the spectrum of motorcycle pubs several years ago by purchasing those niche assets from Hearst first, then Source Interlink, the overall health of print continues to circle the drain, excepting a few standouts like Garden & Gun. The price is right – for as long as it can last.
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 Cloud Storage Destinations
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.
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 video dominance, and a solid addition to a well-rounded social media marketing strategy.
It’s not a heavy lift to reach that fundamental conclusion. It’s the how that usually ends up badly, as simple lip-service from the aesthetically challenged on what constitutes professional graphic design begins from a standpoint of basic ignorance of the subject.
Real guidance on achieving that lofty goal gets murky real fast. There’s very seldom a follow-up discussion on how compelling art is actually created, or how to make the subjective design judgements that are the essential DNA of an art or creative director’s job description.
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, aided and abetted by Word’s draw extension.
The 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 if the goal is to be taken seriously. Or that Bevel and Emboss with Texture, added to a logotype of sorts sourced from an obscure MS Office font, doesn’t so much sing gloriously about brand originality as it cries out in all to painfully obvious embarrassment to everyone about the creator’s shortcomings.
Invest in Original Graphic Design for Great Results
Your friends won’t tell you, but I will: ugly doesn’t improve with time.
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 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.
Small businesses can benefit from creating a unique online newsroom.
Invest In Online Assets For Longterm Dividends
As whats left of print media transitions into a hybrid that blends traditional content with digital distribution, private industry is likewise developing answers for inventing new channels of promotion and publicity. Read about how Coca-Cola is a leader in setting up and stocking unique content for both consumer and b2b consumption.
The need for effective strategies is best seen in the use of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) as essential marketing disciplines. Both focus on the power of search to direct audiences inbound to content, and those same procedures are being successfully refined and funneled in the establishment of online newsrooms.
Online newsrooms are also a total departure from the commonly used and outdated drop down menu method of accessing company news and resources, which requires multiple steps before even reaching a starting point and focuses solely on archiving content, not repurposing.
Biggest Difference? An Adventure, Not An Archive
The contemporary onliine newsroom is designed as a visual destination separate from the main website. It’s a unique container offering an assortment of video, audio, text, visuals, and ready-to-wear social content – all delivered in an easy to use User Experience (UX) layout that puts a premium on interesting and engaging presentation to serve various forms of content that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Online Newsroom – Think Investment, Not Expense
Today’s news resource – and that includes all that PR brings to the mix – must deliver solid content quickly and easily to a wide audience with unique needs. Design, creative, IT, and marketing all have a part to play in the successful implentation of a modern online newsroom.
Design your online newsroom to make maximum use of visual breadcrumbs and cues to guide editors, researchers, writers, and curators in finding not just what they’re looking for, but what they need to accurately inform their audience about XYZ Company. Need help? Lets explore a solution custom tailered to fit your needs.
Understanding the various components that go into an effective Google strategy is daunting. Get this Google+ infographic from Plus Your Business to understand the basics and learn how to achieve balance by optimizing Google+ products.
Annual Gathering Introduced Major Digital Upgrades
donuts — the key to endurance
Dawn had barely broken when the digital cognescetti began descinding on the registration desks outside the University of South Florida’s School of Business Administration for the daylong techno conference known as Barcamp. Dawn of the dead, more like it.
Veterans of previous Barcamp events came prepared to deal with the Endless Donut Buffet lest the sugar blues overtake them halfway through a .js preso. Antidote: coffee pipeline direct injection.
First timers – including a non-profit wondering where he might find technology mentors for the inner city youth he counseled – tried to interpret the deliberate disorganization that is the hallmark of Barcamp, with varying degrees of success.
The 2013 edition, while perhaps not as feature rich as previous years, nonetheless offered nearly 800 attendees a broad and varied palette of back end, front end, and outside the lines content, much of it from an entrepreneurial perspective.
apps, plugins, hardware and plenty of code
Apps were big on the agenda this year, including the primo EXMO iOS/Android event scheduler. EXMO is one of those things that having used it once now seems like an essential for any multisession event, conference or seminar.
Still in beta, the little app that could kept up with an on-the-fly schedule update that’s the hallmark of Barcamp, letting attendees focus on what was happening instead of where. It’s the digital solution to the sometimes frustrating analog scheduler Barcamp uses, a bulletin board and post-it notes for attendees to schedule and presenters to signup for sessions.
This year there were some 15 tracks in hour-long chunks that began at 9 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m., in a nearly constant state of flux. That’s a lot of speakers to try and keep track of, and EXMO did a great job without the slightest hiccup, subject only to the 10-minute window needed for updating.
Blogging seemed a popular topic this year. My first session was an introduction to SEOslides, a dandy WordPress plugin that, as the name implies, allows bloggers to create a presentation within WordPress that is SEO friendly for every page and which – bonus round – links directly to your blog.
So take that Slideshare. Frame driven, this plugin is easily shareable and that’s a big plus when it comes to stats. A/B testing? Yep, and that’s just the beginning. It easily imports your PDF presentation, so authoring can be done with a variety of applications.
Still in beta, and as might be imagined the free version comes with a few key features disabled. If presentations are a big part of your workflow, the annual buy in is $200 and comes with a ton of extras.
quadcopters ready for takeoff
I’m still not sure what quadcopters had to do with web tech, but if I didn’t know anything about them before I sure do now thanks to Greg Wilson, Adobe’s head of CC outreach.
Greg rounded up a fleet – well, two – of these four-bladed oddities from DJI for a show and tell that included in the classroom hovering and an outdoor flight well above 800 feet.
Fundamentals of flight, advantages for aerial photographers, and a look at the possibilities made for a fun session that makes owning one of these devices tempting indeed.
By the time the last speaker in the last classroom turned out the lights, you could measure the knowledge dished out in tonnage. Barcamp is a rare altruistic opportunity to sample trends and techniques in the most informal of environments while allowing developers, site opperators, and anyone with a passion for digital and a viewpoint a forum to pitch their opinion.