Tag Archives: Blog

Let’s Get Visual!

I’m going to tell you the worst-kept secret that you already know. Nobody likes to read anything anymore. Well, not anything that is just a wall of text. We’re all guilty of scanning a document instead of reading every word or sharing an article after just reading the headline. Nobody is proud of it, but with the sheer bulk of content that is produced everyday, we have to get through all of it somehow.

All of the most digestible information we encounter now has enormous visual pieces coupled with it. Think of every infographic you read, every photo with a caption, and video you can play while multitasking. You learn much more from these visually captivating pieces than from walls of text similar to this post (but I’m breaking up this content with pictures, so bear with me).

Social media provides a great platform for watching how people consume information. We started off with blogs that were hundreds––if not thousands––of words long. We then moved to Facebook, cutting people’s word count by at least half, and then to Twitter, keeping our count to 140 characters or less. Now, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and Tumblr are allowing for content sans words, replaced by images, audio, and visual communication.

But just because we are truncating what we write, does that make it more effective? It sure seems that way. Here are some stats:

  • 44% of social media users are more likely to engage with brands if they post pictures (as opposed to other types of media)
  • Facebook photos get at least 7x more likes than links do
  • Pinterest, a completely visual social media channel, has grown by 6000% in the last 8 months
  • Images are the most clicked-on content on Twitter
  • Recruiters spend more time looking at a user’s LinkedIn profile picture than anything else
  • More than 6 billion hours of YouTube videos are being watched per month
  • Flipboard, a visual news app, was the #1 application when the iPad launched
  • Images are processed 60,000x faster than text by the human brain

So are you prepared? Content is still king, and visual content requires originality and thought. Make sure everything you post has something engaging to look at.  Visuals will cut through regular marketing speak, and original visuals can even stand out from other media of the same ilk. So charge your smartphone and grab your camera––you have some work to do!

Author: Zack Smith

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Creating a Public Persona of My Personality for Personal Branding Purposes

I started my second personal blog the other day. I won’t shamelessly promote it here, but my friends have been inundated with requests for support. I received an interesting response from my good buddy Joe. After reading a few posts he wrote to me, “Impressed how easily you put yourself out there to the masses. I find it easy to present a character for audiences, but feel less comfortable broadcasting myself. Brave.”

Although brief, I was taken aback by his commentary. Was I really wearing my heart and soul on the sleeve of this blog? Was I laying it all out there for the world to see? Surely I wouldn’t be so stupid as to be one of those people who just say whatever comes to their minds, right? You know the type. The blogger who thinks the world gives a damn about the mundanity of his or her life: “Today I bought shoes and already I have blisters. Wait, hold on a second, need some water. Okay, I’m back. Anyway.” Or someone who shares inappropriate confessions, driven by insecurities and the need for drama: “My boyfriend isn’t romantic and often looks around the room when we kiss.”

Is this who I’ve become but in a less exaggerated sort of way? The answer, I’ve come to discover, is maybe. If some of the things I write about come from a place of truth, then maybe I really am broadcasting myself to the world. The thing is, it doesn’t feel like that. For years now I’ve considered these public displays of personality to be fiction.

I’m talking about personal branding. I’m talking about the line, which has become incredibly blurred, between who we are and who we pretend or act like when we participate online, particularly in social media. When I think about the message I put out there for the world to view, I wonder if it’s really me. And again, the answer is maybe.

Personal branding is not a new topic. In fact, it’s become our way of life. Today, people can obtain or lose jobs based simply on the way they brand themselves online. What I wonder is, are we even aware we’re doing it anymore?

I’m reminded of my Facebook page from 2005 (Ah, the gloriously elitist days when you needed a .edu to get in). The page allowed you to fill in fields about your personality: favorite songs, books, movies, etc. They still exist today, but they’re certainly not as exposed and important as they were back then. I remember all the clever things I’d post: Favorite artist—post-mortem Tupac; Favorite activity—avoiding death; Interests—onesies; Favorite quote—“Sometimes I question your dedication to Sparkle Motion.”

It became a persona—a way for me to make fun while having fun. It was also the loss of my creating-a-personal-brand virginity (and just as experimental). It was me choosing to show the world, “Hey, I want you to think I’m funny!” And this has carried on for years. We all do it. Every time we post a Facebook status update or send out a tweet, we’re communicating something about ourselves. We’re making a choice, cognizant or not, about who we are or who we want people to think we are.

Larry Kimmel of the Direct Marketing Association recently said to our company, “Kids today begin branding themselves at the age of 16.” In fact, he’s right. The millennials today learn very early on how to portray themselves in social media. I think it’s going to become harder and harder for future generations to recognize the difference between this online community and the community of our neighbors.

Thanks to my pal Joe’s insightful observation, it made me realize that maybe we’ve all gotten a little too comfortable with our pen names. We ought to step back and think about the content we’re putting out there for the world to see. Whether it’s for privacy concerns or some other reason, unintended vulnerabilities could come back to hurt us. And if I get hurt, you may end up reading about it in my blog.

Author: Eric Swenson

7 Steps to a Better Business Blog

Blogs are websites that can be updated quickly, easily, and often. They have replaced many static websites, for good reasons.

Blogging has become a must in today’s social media marketing. There are many reasons: blogging brings new ideas to the public, allows freedom of speech, enables different perspectives to be heard, and facilitates communication. The blog is significant because it is a low-cost medium that delivers valuable information on a regular basis. Most important, blogging is a way to get the attention of the online community and communicate with it.

HubSpot’s blog (link below) explains how to take a business blog to the next level:

  • Write Short and Clear Headlines
  • Include Several Headers Per Post
  • Get Rid of Wasteful Words
  • Include a Contextual Image
  • Set Expectations With Headlines
  • Turn Comments Into an Extension of the Post
  • Use Calls to Action to Continue Education

If you don’t have a blog yet, are you convinced you should have one?

Author: Marina Kaljaj

Think the Design of your Website isn’t important?

Gawker Media is blog network and media company run by Nick Denton out of New York. Gawker is the parent company of many successful blog producers, including Lifehacker, Gizmodo, and Kotaku.

Recently, the Gawker network issued a redesign of many of these sites. They released this video touting the features and advantages of the redesign:

Despite the claims in the video, the redesigns (thus far) have not been effective. Here is a breakdown of the users immediately following the re-launch:

It goes without saying that there was a substantial drop. Many users are skeptical about the new sites, but one thing is certain: design matters. Design, paired with usability, can dramatically affect the flow of traffic on and off a site. Content is certainly a priority, but when you have an established user base, people are only going to keep coming back if clarity and functionality are fun, friendly, and intuitive.

Author: Eric Swenson