Sometimes I think I should have been a nun instead of getting into marketing and social media. Not the kind of nun that sings, like on Sound of Music or Italy’s “The Voice,” but the kind in the 1950’s who walked around with a ruler, ready to smack children on the knuckles when they used crappy images on their social media posts!
There are only a few things that send me over the edge when it comes to how poorly some companies are using social media: One is when they don’t respond to a comment or question left for them on one of their social sites, proving they don’t really want people to talk to them, they simply want everyone to read their stuff.
Another is when people use those idiotic services like TrueTwit validation to make others on Twitter prove they are not robots by going to a robot site and jumping through a bunch of hoops. (See a past post for more on that rant here).
And the one that my team, here at SocialKNX, has heard me preach over and over again (with my ruler in hand) is when people and especially brands, use crappy images on their social media sites. I think my issue started back in the days when Microsoft’s Screen Bean characters were all the rage in corporate presentations and marketing material.
I wanted to rip things apart when I would see them. (Anger management courses have helped a bit.)
But today it’s even worse when great visuals are available everywhere and the cameras we carry in our back pockets take fantastic photos, there is just no excuse for poor images being used on our websites, blog posts or social media sites.
Every social platform allows for very large images and we want to take advantage of every pixel we can. I love using Canva to ensure we are sizing the images correctly. Their templates for social media sites are very helpful, and they do a pretty good job of keeping up with the ever-changing sizes.
Here are some of the types of images that will get knuckles cracked, and why:
Clip Art (of any kind)
These just have the same smell as my great grandmother’s TV room. They are old and stale. A great photo of an actual boy on a tricycle or a cool close up of a tricycle would be more intriguing and interesting than this one. Take a trip this weekend and snap some great photos to use instead.
Oh, these are bad on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to start! First, any of the overly staged, fake corporate team photos tell the world you don’t even try. You may have purchased these photos from Shutterstock or iStockPhoto, but you didn’t look past the first 3 or 4 choices. A personal favorite is the overly enthusiastic team meeting photo that shows everyone giving high fives around a flipchart! Come on! Show us, REAL people, doing real office activities. I know they are harder to find. You have to look at new collections or unique sites like Unsplash. Better yet, get your own team members to pose for a few shots, or look for great photos that depict the message you are trying to convey. The fake-looking, overly-staged pics are called corporate porn. They should be banned and someone should lose their job for even looking at them on company computers!
No explanation needed! You’re just embarrassing yourself if you are using these anywhere. Don’t make me get my ruler out.
Where to Get Great Images
So where do you go to find these GREAT images? Here are 12 stock photo libraries to get you started. You will still have to look through their collections to find the great ones.
The photographs from the first 8 sites are free from copyright restrictions or licensed under creative commons public domain dedication. This means you can copy, modify, distribute, and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.
However, some photos may require attribution. We’ve done our best to identify which license they fall under but we still advise you to do your own research and determine how these images can be used.
The last 3 resources are paid stock photo sites that are great for those who blow through hundreds or thousands of images a month. You need more than one place to find just the right image to tell your stories!
Here you go:
Unsplash – This website offers amazing and beautiful photos absolutely free. It’s one of my favorites.
Pexels – Pexels is another great resource offering high quality and completely free stock photos licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license.
StockSnap – This website offers many similar images to the paid subscription sites (probably the images that didn’t get purchased from them). They are free and free from copyright restrictions.
Life of Pix – a great collection of high-resolution images with no copyright restrictions.
BURST (by Shopify)– All photos are licensed under Creative Commons CC0 and can be used as you see fit.
Picography – Beautiful free images to use however you’d like.
PicJumbo – This site offers free images you can use without copyright restrictions and you will also find a “premium” level for more hidden gems.
StyledStock -This site offers free “feminine” stock photography for every woman entrepreneur. The collection is totally free for your commercial & personal works.
Pikwizard– This site offers over 100,000 completely free images on the site and over 20,000 are exclusive to Pikwizard. They have a lot of pictures of people in business settings which is helpful for corporate accounts.
Deposit Photos– a typical subscription stock photo site. You must pay for individual photos or buy a monthly subscription to download the images.
Shutterstock– a typical subscription stock photo site. You must pay for individual photos or buy a monthly subscription to download the images.
iStock Photos– a typical subscription stock photo site. You must pay for individual photos or buy a monthly subscription to download the images.
If you are using a tool like Canva, they also have an incredible library of images you can access (many are coming from Unsplash and other sites listed here). They are included in your pro-level membership or may cost $1 each if you are using the free version of Canva.
Don’t forget that photographer inside of YOU. You can take some great pics with your mobile devices and then add a bit of pizazz with apps like WordSwag, A Beautiful Mess, or even Instagram. Don’t settle for boring images.
Do you have a type of image that makes you cringe? Do you have another great resource that you use for great images? I’d love to continue the conversation here in the comments or on our DIY.social Facebook Group. I also would love to know if you have a String Bean graphic.
Perhaps you have seen a tweet begin with a period and thought it was simply a slip of the finger that was not caught on Twitter.
Maybe you’ve asked, “Why do people place a period at the beginning of a tweet? Does it change who sees the content?”
Well that little dot, or other intentionally placed character, in front of a tweet play a very important role in Twitter town. Let me explain.
If I want to send a PRIVATE message to someone on Twitter, I simply hit the DIRECT MESSAGE icon (They have to be following you in order to send a DM to them).
But when I reply to someone or send a message to someone in my public Twitter stream, who sees that message depends on how the message is set up. Example:
Jana has these folks following her:
I have these folks following me:
If I want to reply to my friend Jana Axline and don’t mind if others see the message I could simply reply:
The only people who will see this tweet in their Twitter stream are those who are following BOTH me AND Jana, so only Ernie and Bert see that reply. Of course anyone who goes to my Twitter profile directly and clicks on TWEETS AND REPLIES will find it there, but it will not be in my main Twitter stream.
If I start a tweet with “RT” or a word or even a period, it moves it from the TWEETS and REPLIES into my main TWEETS and Kathleen, Mark, Tommy, Mary, Carol, Jeff AND Ernie and Bert will all see that message in their stream when they log in.
Want even more Twitter Tips for your business? Check out our helpful Twitter guidebook here:
We see them every day. Exhausted and frustrated small business owners waving the white flag of surrender on their social marketing efforts. They have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, and even Snapchat, but most have been abandoned after a month or so of random posting and activity with little if any strategic focus.
With all of the available social media platforms to engage with your customers and share your brand’s message, it can be overwhelming deciding where you should be active. It’s a lot like looking at for a new home. You wouldn’t run out and buy several houses start moving some furniture in each only to leave them abandoned while you make your choice of the best location. You would research each feature you desire first, look into the surrounding area to see if it meets your needs and make sure the house you want is in a community that you can be active in. The same goes for social media marketing.
These 5 steps will help you decide where your brand needs to be active:
1. Identify the type of people you want to “live with”
In marketing we call this defining your personas, but it is simply detailing who you are trying to reach with your social media activities. If you think the world is your market, you will run yourself ragged trying to be everywhere. Be as specific as possible. What is the age of the people you are targeting. What are the concerns or challenges they face? Problems they have that you might be able to solve? What social media sites are they most active on? Where might they find your content? Write this down and keep it in front of you as you decide where you will set up camp.
2. Where are your competitors active?
Have you looked on social media sites to see which of your competitors are active there? Not more abandoned accounts, but real activity. Facebook allows you to “watch” 5 competitor accounts from your own business page.
3. What type of content will you be sharing on each social media site?
Take time to plan out the kind of content you will be creating for each site BEFORE you set up shop. You need regular photos if you are using Instagram. Lots of tips and short nuggets on Twitter. Product pictures for Pinterest, and so on. It’s not the same content on every platform.
4. Who will be responsible for writing, posting, finding photos, monitoring activity and responding to questions or comments on your social media sites?
This seems obvious, but you might need to recruit some help managing the activity that goes along with posting to social sites. Social marketing is so much more than just posting content. Talk to your team to see who can help with each activity.
5. What is your goal on each social media site?
Your goal must extend beyond just being present on a social media site. Are you trying to drive more traffic to your website? Then blogging might be a big piece of this formula so your social media posts have something to share and point people to. Is your goal to let people know about products you offer and get feedback from your community? Are you trying to magnify your influence and let people know what your expertise is? These goals must be kept front and center to keep your activities focused.
With this plan in front of you, you will be able to identify where you want to be active and you will have a better understanding of the work involved to keep your social media sites from looking like an abandoned house.
If you are using social media tools for your marketing, you have most likely asked, “Can I get business with social media marketing?” I get that question from folks a couple times a week. Or the complaints that people have been using social media for a year or so and have not actually gotten business from it.
Social media is one tool in your sales and marketing tool box and saying that you expect to get business from using one tool like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, is like saying you are going to build a house with nothing else but a screwdriver. It can probably be done by a very talented person, but it will take a long time and a lot more work than using a combination of tools.
Here are 12 tools that you should load into your box to get business with social media marketing or make converting social media LIKES and FOLLOWS into DOLLARS!
This is a critical power tool that will not only provide you with regular keyword rich content coming from your site for people to find, but it also gives your social media sites something to promote. If you are still putting it off because you don’t have time or you don’t know what to blog about, it might be time to hire a content creator. It is that important. If you want a few ideas of what to blog about, check out this post—> 30 Things to Write About When You Don’t Know What to Say.
You need to have things that keep your website visitors on your site and entering your sales funnel so you can work to convert them into clients and customers. Perhaps you can create an eBook (It doesn’t have to be a novel. Write about a topic you get a lot of questions on providing detailed answers in 5-10 pages.) Create a checklist of items that would be of high value to your visitors. Record a webinar or video that only these visitors can view when they provide you with their email address.
Now take those offers and create a page of content that tells about the offer and has a form that people fill out providing their name and email, or maybe a phone number (It better be HIGH value for me to give my phone number.) Have your website manager load the landing page (very simple) and connect it to your email marketing system, whether that is a custom system or one like Mailchimp or Constant Contact.
Once you have people giving you their email address in exchange for something of value that you have provided, you know they have an interest in your products or services. You can segment your email lists based on what they downloaded or what information they provided so you can now follow up with more specific information that is targeting problems they might be experiencing and showing how you are providing that solution.
You can look up the people who are downloading your offers and see if you can find them on Twitter, along with anyone else you would like to target. Twitter allows you to connect with people you may not be able to reach otherwise and begin to establish a relationship. You can also target the content you send out on Twitter to address some of the same problems or challenges you know they have based on the information they have downloaded. Continue to send new connections to your landing pages to start that cycle again.
Video is king in the marketing world right now and most organizations still have not embraced it with a sense of urgency like they should. There a few things to realize. Video results will be in the top search results for almost every search. Google had posted that of the top 100 searches, video will appear 70% of the time. When you load your videos to YouTube, you are taking advantage of the second largest search engine in the world (just behind Google….and YouTube is owned by Google). If you plan your short videos to address specific questions that people are asking on Google, it will likely rank higher than a text answer on your website. If you have your video transcribed after you load it and then load the word document back into the YouTube closed caption area, you now provide a value add for your viewers as well as extra “Google Juice” for the search engines to find that content. If you don’t know how to film or edit video and you have a very limited budget, look into using Google Hangouts On Air. You can record yourself or up to 10 people having a conversation (like your own TV show) and it loads to YouTube automatically when you finish. No editing necessary most of the time and if you do need to edit a bit at the beginning or end, you can do that easily using YouTube’s editing tools that are built in.
LinkedIn bought SlideShare in May 2012 to add a more interactive and visual tool to your LinkedIn profile and this is turning out to be another power tool in your marketing tool box. Create a marketing presentation using PowerPoint, Keynote or my personal favorite, HaikuDeck and then load it to SlideShare and link it to your LinkedIn profile. Explain how something works in 10-15 slides with your contact information and more about the services your company provides on the last slide. Make the slides BEAUTIFUL. Don’t pack them with tiny font and more bullets than a Die Hard movie. Use beautiful images and colorful charts or graphs. The visuals will captivate, the information will draw them to you. If you struggle to make great presentations, check out Presentation Zen or HaikuDeck.
With over 1.4 BILLION users on Facebook, this is usually a spot you want to occupy, both to be found and to provide a place for people to post questions, discussions about your product or services, get tips and resources from you or to learn more about those offers you have created. Your goal on Facebook is to show your expertise and listening skills and then invite people to visit your website, blog or those landing pages.
Instagram is where all of our teenagers and young adults went when their parents got on Facebook and creeped them out. If your target market includes anyone under the age of 30, you should at least be checking out this visual phenom. Your brand can use this platform to allow people to peek behind the curtain of your business and see your team hard at work, or the events you attend. You can showcase your products or show how you provide great service. This platform is a bit more casual than your LinkedIn or maybe even your Facebook page. Have fun with great photos that you snap around your office. Share a graphic showing an event or promotion you are running, showcase your fans and all the fun you have with them.
Even though there has been speculation as to the future of Google Plus and the lack of participation on this platform, the content you place here is still showing up pretty high in search results. Of course if you spend time building and nurturing relationships there, you will reap the benefits of on Google Plus just like you do on any site that you spend time connecting with people.
This site continues to amaze many in marketing because of the rapid growth in users (70 Million users as of 7/10/13) as well as the amount of traffic that this site sends to websites with the intent to convert. Think of it this way, we don’t log into Facebook thinking, “I wonder what my favorite brands have to sell me today.” We log into Facebook to see what our crazy cousin Eddie is up to. But many people log into Pinterest to find great shoes (okay maybe that’s just me) or recipes for a dinner party, decor for their home and more. When done right, your Pinterest account can drive people directly to the point of purchase and if posting regularly there, you will see conversions, or at least an increase in traffic with an attempt to convert. (47% of US online shoppers have purchased something as a result of Pinterest)
A fabulous smartphone
Yes this is a necessary tool to manage all of these sites as well as taking photos that you will share on your social media sites. Today’s smart phones have incredible cameras (look for devices with 10+ megapixels if you are in the market for a new phone) and apps that allow you to manage everyone of the tools mentioned here. I live on my Samsung Galaxy S4 and my iPad and with the ability to tether my internet service through my phone to my iPad (mobile hotspot service via Verizon), there is nothing I can’t do on the road that I can while at my desk.
So what other tools are you using?
We’d love to hear about the other tools you are using to convert more of your social media efforts into paying customers.
Last week Twitter announced a big update coming to iOS (iPhones/iPad) Twitter apps and that it would soon roll out to Android as well. Perhaps it’s the pressure to keep those Instagram-loving teens hanging out in Twitter Town a little more, or just to stay out front of the visual social trend, but through its mobile apps we can load up to FOUR photos in a single tweet. This will be great for sharing more than a single photo from events or better yet it will be great to keep everyone from posting 4 tweets in a row, each with photos. I can see this being a wonderful feature for realtors wanting to share photos from four different homes or four different rooms in a house and asking for a vote of which is a favorite, A-B-C or D. This would also work well for a business sharing product photos. I guess the possibilities are endless…just look at Instagram!
Twitter also announced that we will have the ability to tag people in a photo without taking up all the space in the tweet typing their username. This is HUGE! How many times did you want to add a photo AND tag someone but just couldn’t fit it all into your message without removing every vowel leaving it looking like a Wheel of Fortune puzzle?
Remember these will only work when loading content from the Twitter app from your mobile device. If you are not seeing these features available you may need to go into your apps and upgrade the Twitter app. Android lovers, like myself, will have to wait a little longer for it to come our way, and perhaps they will add it to the website loader soon as well.
How will you use these new features, or will you at all? Tell us in the comments below.
Stay Ahead in The Social Business Tools Game: How to open yourself to new tools, resources and shortcuts.
In a recent client meeting we were discussing taking some of the photos from an event and adding their logo and web address to them in Picmonkey and then taking the market stats and plugging then into Canva, a cool new tool to make an infographic.
Our client’s assistant looked over at us and asked, “How do you learn about all of these cool tools? I’ve never heard of these?” Hmm, that’s a great question. We just keep our eyes and ears open through different blogs we read and then we go over to explore them to see how we could use them in our business. Whether it’s Dropbox to store our documents and photos in the cloud for easy access while on the road, or InstaSize to take those rectangle photos and load them to Instagram without cropping the entire thing, we try them all.
It’s easy to get stuck using the same tools you have always used and get so busy that you don’t make time to explore and learn about new tools and shortcuts to do your job.
Here are 3 things you can do to open yourself to new tools, resources and shortcuts:
Subscribe to 3 random industry magazines
Subscribe to your interest areas on Flipboard (a customizable magazine that pulls content into a beautiful news display every time you open it on your smartphone or tablet).
In the “old days” I would suggest subscribing to a few random magazines, but now you can get the same content in a free digital format. If you are a Realtor, select interests like aviation, wine or meetings and events industry news. If you are a government position, select industries like travel, mountaineering or auto mechanic news. Break from the traditional sources that everyone else in your industry is reading, or at least ADD TO what everyone else is reading.
Browse your app store (iTunes or Android Play) monthly.
Looking under business categories to try a new app or two each month. Read the reviews on apps before downloading and look for those with lots of downloads already (gives you an idea of how popular the app is). If it has 100-200 downloads, that’s not a whole lot. 10,000 or 200,000 downloads tells you it has been tried and tested. Subscribe to sites like Mashable/Tech to stay in the know as well.
Talk to people.
Whenever I am chatting with someone, I ask them what their favorite app or tool is for building business or helping in their marketing. You will hear all kinds of things. I also have a teenager and I learn a ton from her. She is always showing me a great photo editing app or one that allows you to square up those photos before loading to Instagram.
We’d love to learn from YOU. What are your favorite tools or apps? How do YOU keep ahead of the game and continue to STAND OUT in the social ocean? Please tell us in the comment section.
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