What’s new in digital content sharing?

Tech Infographics Social Media Infographic 2014With the latest trend in social media forums, a strong social media strategy is a must in 2014.  But in order to develop that strategy, you first have to start with the most widely used social network tools available to you.  Techinforgraphics.com designed this awesome infographic highlighting the new and fresh approaches to how we consume content and engage in the digital space.

Those of us who live and breathe social networking like air are well aware of these new digital sharing tools. But just in case you aren’t, here’s the CliffsNotes on Snapchat, Pheed, Line and Vine.

Snapchat is a mobile photo and video sharing service available for both iOS and Android devices.  Videos range from 1-10 seconds, and photos remain viewable for that same length of time. The cool thing is that before sharing, users have the option of annotating clips with text and marker tools to add fun and artistic design elements.  One of the most disputed and widely known aspects that many teenagers like (and those looking to erase the breadcrumb trail to their deeds) is the self-destruct mechanism that can be set by the sender to erase the message contents within seconds of you viewing it.  And as a result, there are big discussions happening about how Snapchat is used for and may contribute to unrestrained sexting and bullying.

Pheed is like your personal life channel that holds video, audio, live events and text “pheeds” to your undying following.  It appears to be a robust version of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook all rolled into one.  Since it’s roll-out, it’s become increasingly popular with musicians and celebrities.  So if you love the fishbowl life, this is the social network for you.

Line is a new communication app for your cell phone that allows you to make free calls and send free text messages without restrictions.  So you can talk to local and far away friends and family, and even  hold business meetings.  So it seems to be another version of Skype but perhaps a bit more refined.

Vine, created by the folks at Twitter, lets you record and share six-second of looping video clips. It works as a mobile app that captures and uploads your images to share with friends and family.  Vine captures and shares brief content much like Twitter, but a little longer than Snapchat. It also has a scrollable feed of all your friends’ vines on the homescreen to keep up with what they’re posting.  Although fun for kids, I’m not really sure of the benefits for adults using it.

Call to Action: What do you think about these social network tools?


5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Bother With Social Media

This may come as a shock but, what I’m about to lay out is very much true. Not everyone should be getting involved in social media. I’m not saying this to be mean, however I am going to shed some light for those who may be thinking of using social media in their business, but don’t really want to invest in doing it right.

Here at Design Theory, we use a LOT of social networks, apps, tools, and more to reach our audience. Through time we’ve learned what works for us, what to spend most time on for better feedback, and what networks may not be worth much effort for the target audience we want. How can you learn some of these things? A lot of trial and effort. If you’re not in it for the long haul, here are some reasons why you may not want to start.

You May Not Really Have Time

This is a classic and very human reason why not to get involved. You’re a business owner or freelancer. You’re already focusing on so much to get your business off the ground, legal paperwork, contracts, advertising. Though all of these can be helped or you can find help through social media, but we won’t go there right now. Thing is, it will eat up your day. When’s the last time you went on Facebook and spent less than 5 minutes on the site? Checking friends status updates, funny videos, wishing friends happy birthday. Well imagine spending about 10-15 minutes on at least 5 networks once or twice a day. Oh it adds up very quickly. Why do you need to spend that much time? Well because each network has users that are on it for a certain time. Finding the right time of day to post is crucial for your engagement. And you’ll also want to be available to respond whenever you get a tweet or post or message. Strike while the iron is hot to lead your visitors and followers back to your site to sell them on something.

You Think You Can Automate Everything

If there was one single app or service that could take what you’re thinking and edit it down to 140 characters, or create a cool viral video that gets shared among millions instantly, I’d be rich because I would develop it. So no one stop shop maybe, but there are social media agencies all around that if you spend time with them and allow them to get to know you and your business they’d be able to be effective at this for you and your brand. But that would cost some serious money to be done right. I don’t want you to fall for the social apps that let you post everywhere at once with the same message. Think about it; the people who follow you on Pinterest want to see pictures and video and not much text. Twitter followers are going to be looking at what you type, maybe a link to find more info or download something for free (and that’s if they see your tweet among the hundreds in their timeline). We all know Facebook posts that have pictures and video get much more attention than just text-only posts. And the biggest issue, what time you post to what network.

You Think It’s All About You

Unless you’re an already established brand, people aren’t going to be super interested in just you or your business. This interest is something you’ll have to sow, water, and grow (if you get what I mean). Chances are there are already known name brands that dominate your industry that your audience is quite familiar with. Its going to be an up hill battle for you to break in and make a name for yourself. Having a good client/customer base will be crucial at the beginning, and making them your “superfans” will be just as crucial to your social engagement. Your potential audience is going to be interested more in what you can do for them (free first then paid) than about who you actually are at first. Spend more time offering great tips and help on your industry and services and less time trying to sell directly.

You Just Want To Sell, Sell, Sell

Speaking of selling, don’t even bother. Well unless you have a hot product that people absolutely love and you’re having a tough time keeping them in stock, try not to start into social media with an “I must sell” agenda. Most people using social media networks have figured out how to ignore or parse ads from their normal view. Facebook realized this, and they’ve moved to incorporating sponsored and suggested posts in the mix of your news feed. Why? Because they noticed how people were totally ignoring the right side of their Facebook screen because that’s where the ads always were everywhere they go on Facebook. Try to talk more about differences in available products, why your products are actually better than the leading competition, ways your products may save money or time, and how your products or services actually are awesome.

You Anticipate Huge Results Immediately

If you’re thinking that for every tweet you’re going to get 20 new followers, or for every new Facebook post you’re going to have 10 reply comments, or for each board you create on Pinterest you’re going to get 50 new re-pins and followers, or each video you post on YouTube will go viral in a few hours, please walk away now. It doesn’t work that way. There’s no secret formula to what actually becomes viral. And results like that are quite seldom. Even for those that are able to go viral, its more rare for them to do it again. It is going to take some time to develop your audience and following. Regardless of what network it is. I have 500+ connections on Linked In, but I don’t get 500+ likes to ever single discussion I post. It takes genuine content, posted at the opportune times when engagement is most likely for each individual network. And yes social media can be tracked, but no you’re probably not going to get two dollars for every dollar you invest in it.

Agree with me or disagree, I’d still like to hear your thoughts. Lets discuss in the comments below.

Image Credit: GraphicsFuel (download them for free!)

Make Life Easy WP Plugins

If you’re a web designer or blogger, you know that WordPress (WP) has quickly become one of the fastest growing, most popular content management systems (CMS) around.  It’s extremely quick to install as well as easy to navigate and master.  And they are consistently evolving across all platforms with simple-to-use themes as well as free updates and plugins that are only a few clicks away via the dashboard  Most of us WP users and web designers purchase a theme with majority of the bells & whistles we think we’ll need.  But sometimes the theme falls short, you need your website to have certain functionality that you could not have foreseen needing or you need to add functionality at the behest of your client.  So this is where plugins plug in-filling in the gap between wishing and less limitations.

In the last year, I’ve begun having more fun in the dashboard and realize that I’ve been missing out on all the cool plugins that make building/editing a site more efficient as well as functional.  Some are tried and true while others are indeed new.  So here’s my list of my favorite WordPress plugins to date.

All-in-One SEO Pack –  All in One SEO Pack Pro v2.1 improves on the most popular WordPress SEO plugin.  Not only can you set site-wide defaults in WordPress as well as customize the search engine settings for each individual WordPress post, page and custom post type but now you can manage exactly how search engines crawl each page or post.  All in One SEO Pack Pro even gives you complete control over your social meta or OpenGraph meta so you can control what appears on your favorite social media sites.

Custom Link Widget –  A Simple, straight-forward plugin that lets you insert links as the widget. Just insert your link, name it and it will convert it to a hyperlink automatically.

Image Widget – A simple image widget that uses the native WordPress media manager to add image widgets to your site.  It automatically resizes and aligns your image, allows you to link the image and even allows you to override your theme template!

Post Types Order – You can custom order the posts without making any php file changes or publish date resetting.  Simply install plugin, drag & drop.

Widget Logic – This widget gives you extra control field called “Widget logic” that lets you control the pages that the widget will appear on.

Ultimate TinyMCE – A chock full kitchen sink of editorial/functional options.

WP Touch – This plugin reformats your website to a mobile site for easy navigation & shortcuts on Apple iPhone / iPod touch, Google Android, Blackberry Storm and Torch, Palm Pre and other touchscreen smartphones.

Acurax Social Media Widget – This so ridiculously simple plugin lets you define the icon style & add multiple social media linked icons to your Twitter,Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube,RSS Feed,Linkedin, and Google+.

TweetMeme Retweet Buttonadds a button which easily lets you retweet your blog posts.

So there you have it – just a few ways to make WordPress work better for you.

I’d love to hear your faves – which are some of your favorite plugins?

Super Bowl XLVII Infographic All Stars

This years Super Bowl was an amazing televised phenomenon showcasing not just the talented, body crushing sport of football but the most popular musical talent as well as engaging and fun commercials by lead company marketing mavens.  In the era of everything is Tweetable, Social Media usage was at an all time high and some data companies had great fun showcasing their talents in this realm.  I found so many of the infograpics informative, engaging and quite stylized that I just had to share and comment on the best of them.  So enjoy these top 3 Super Bowl XLVII infographic all stars!

Since I’m not a true football fan, I truly thank Sysomos for the Your Social Media Guide to the Super Bowl [Infographic] by Sheldon Levine.  It highlights not only the Ravens & 49er social media fans going to head-to-head but also a plethora of information about the players including their personal Twitter handles.

Sysmos Super Bowl Infographic Snipet
*The above infographic is shortened because of size.  Click on it to launch the entire infographic.

Kyle Lacy from Marketers from Mars gave us the very educative & classic looking infographic reflecting the most important details about the Social Superbowl.  It highlights everything from the best advertising stats to some interesting and fun celeb Tweets.
social media marketing

Millenium Media scored big time with their Mobile Bowl infographic targeting specific statistics on social media engagement and traffic by fans of both teams.  And they make it easy for us by educating us from top to bottom, splitting the relevant information right down the middle to make clear the true winners and losers.

8 Ways to FREELY Promote your Business & Website in 2013

Man working out 2We’ve all heard the old adage, you only get out of  it (a particular action) what you put into it.  And that is so true when it comes to the online marketing of your business and the sweat equity you put into it.  It takes time, effort and can also cost a considerable amount of cash if you have it.  But if you are a frugal business owner or have fallen on hard financial times due to the economic climate, you need to review these 8  ways to promote your business online completely gratis!.

                                                                                         Free Social Media Resources
#1 Facebook posts need to occur on a regular basis to be effective.  Most people are logged on during the prime time hours of 5-9pm.  You can create quick posts about a new product or service, a free service tip or even ones that are relevant to seasonal time frames.  For example, “Stay warmer longer and out of the cold less with a new SmartStart remote starter!”

#2 Blogging via your website is easy enough by adding a few paragraphs with information specific to your business or service.  Adding  fresh content on a regular basis will give you consistent indexing on major search engines.  You can do this yourself or consider asking a friend or family member that’s a pretty good writer to put a brief article together that gives you an authoritative voice about your particular niche and hopefully a faithful following!

#3 Twitter posts are the easiest but seem to be the hardest to keep up with.  Why I don’t know.  But I do know is that prioritizing a few Tweets per week can help keep your business relevant in this social medium.  If you just don’t have the time, there are social media management programs to help schedule postings on a daily or weekly basis.

#4 Hootsuite is a free social media management tool can help you to schedule and manage multiple Social Media networks  and your daily/weekly postings.  It’s free up to 5 networks and then becomes a paid service.  This is a great no cost/low cost option and it’s super easy to use.  Another option would be to consider asking a college student to do it for a few bucks so they can leverage it as professional Social Media management experience.

Sweat Equity Math Image for Blog

Free Website Resources
#4 merchantcircle.com
holds major clout when it comes to online business networking as the largest social network for local business owners.  They offer free online business listings, free marketing tools, internet advertising and so much more.  It’s 100% free to set up a profile account so you can connect with other local businesses and promote your services/products.

Business Man Jumping In the Air#5 Yelp touts they are “the best way to find great local business” and true enough they are one of them.  The site is well-known as the word-of-mouth for the digital world when it comes to reviews and opinions about businesses.  Creating a profile is easy, smart device friendly and it is similar to Zagat, allowing consumers to rate your business. Don’t be afraid to ask your favorite and most long-term customers to add reviews to your business profile which helps increase your ratings.  Remember, you will look better to consumers with 3 great reviews rather than someone who has none.  But make sure you monitor your profile regularly in case someone puts something on there that’s less than becoming.  You want to be able respond timely to anything that’s said which could affect your business’ reputation.

#6 Google Places helps consumers, much like Yelp,  to help choose the right businesses based on their needs. These searches focus on geographically locating your personal needs in the areas of food, service industries and more.  Here you can add photos, videos, coupons and even weekly specials all on your Place Page.

#6 Google+ Profile Business Page is another great tool by Google helps you find, share, rate, and recommend your business to their friends, and people across the web. But here’s the real gold nugget value – on this site you can also hold free customer meetings via 1 to 1 or even a 10-way video meeting called Google Hangouts. You can even stream and record conversations for playback later.

#8 A Free YouTube Channel for your business will allow you to upload your videos and market via your own channel! Plus you can really leverage this medium by programming certain settings and keywords to make your channel appear in people’s online searches. Not sure what kind of video to shoot?  Consider educating your consumers via a Tips Video with several how-to’s  or why choose your business infomercials. For example, if you’re an automobile service business, give a how-to-tell if your tire has a real flat or if it’s just the outdoor temperature affecting the pressure.

Save Money on ChalkboardLast Tips

-Unless you want to pay someone to do the work for you, it sill takes a consistent effort of rolling up your sleeves and getting these resources to work for you.
-Remember,  the goal is to create engagement and grow your online business presence leveraging these free online tools.
-Be consistent in your business descriptions across all these mediums so that search engines pull the same company information about your business.
-Keep in mind that with these resources, there’s no “set it & forget it” recipe.  Even with Hootsuite, you’ll need to follow-up on your postings to check for comments and post responses to those consumer comments.
-You aren’t going to see dollar-for-dollar return on these efforts & the time investment you put into it.  But I am confident that within 6 months, you will be surely see the fruits of your labors with leads and consumer recognition.
-Pace yourself so you don’t burn out and remember, slow and steady still wins the race all the way to the successful business finish line.