Wow Your Audience

Web design ultimate

If your business needs more engagement on social media, a great image can go a long way. These tips can help give your visual content a much-needed boost.

Entrepreneurs bootstrapping their marketing often turn to social media for quick and inexpensive pathways to growth. And social media can be a powerful tool if used correctly—but it can also be a dangerous waste of time when best practices for each social network are ignored.

[source: OpenForum] A critical component of successful social strategies across every social network is visual content. Add a visual to anything you share on social media, on any network, and it can help to drive more engagement and click-thrus, and ultimately help build a larger following and brand and establish your reputation.

Visual content means any kind of imagery. This might be a photo you took yourself, or something you found online. It could also be an original graphic, whether that’s a complicated infographic illustrating a piece of data or an idea, or a simple quote or a few words on an interesting background. Even a meme or screenshot is a great way to add a visual to your text.

A good visual marketing strategy involves a mix of creation and curation. Relevancy is key.

Why? Let’s look at the numbers. According to Twitter, a tweet with a photo gets 35 percent more retweets than a plain, non-visual tweet. BuzzSumo, a content and social media analytics tool, found that a photo on Facebook receives 2.3 times more engagement than a non-visual Facebook post.

So how can you use visuals to help achieve your goals?

1. Find and research your audience.

Before you begin creating any visuals, take a step back and consider what you are trying to achieve. Are you building a business and an audience from scratch? Are you looking to drive new customers to your Website? Perhaps you’re more interested in driving foot traffic to a physical office, store or event?

Knowing what you want to achieve will help you determine who you need to reach. Who do you hope will see your content? Who do you want to click on your content? Who do you want to share your content and how?

Research this target audience. What social networks do they spend the most time on? What do they follow and what do they share on those networks? What style do they use? Are they using any hashtags or keywords in particular? Is a certain visual style more popular among this target audience?

Pay attention to the style as best you can so you can begin to imitate it.

2. Create and curate visual content.

A good visual marketing strategy involves a mix of creation and curation. Relevancy is key. How can you add to your written content and illustrate a point with a visual? Perhaps a screenshot is a great way to show what you’re talking about.

Can you take a relevant photo on your mobile device to share something about your business? Use some of the free and inexpensive smartphone apps to edit and improve the quality of your images.

You might also find some stock photos are perfect to grab your audience’s attention and communicate the emotions and feelings you hope to come across in your post. (Make sure though to only use photos that you have legal rights to use and credit the source properly as instructed.)

Creating a simple graphic can be a powerful way to get a point across visually. Share a quote or a phrase from your written content in a graphic. Use a design tool like Canva or Picmonkey to create graphics and photo collages that look professional but don’t require a design degree to make.

3. Follow the social platform’s preferences.

Your visuals can achieve better results if you pay attention to the sizing best practices for each social platform. For example, share tall and narrow images on Pinterest and horizontal images on Facebook.

Here are some image sizing preferences to follow:

  • Facebook: Keep your photos in the 1200 x 630 pixel range.
  • Pinterest: Resize your photos to fit the vertical pin standard. The recommended size is 600 x 1200 pixels.
  • Twitter: Horizontal images perform best on Twitter. Keep your images around 440 x 220 pixels.
  • LinkedIn: Horizontal images typically work best. In terms of size, keep your images around 646 x 220 pixels.
  • Tumblr: Keep your images to about 500 x 750 pixels.
  • Instagram: Although Instagram recently moved beyond the square format and started allowing vertical and horizontal images, for best results, keep your Instagram images to 1080 x 1080 pixels. You might like to experiment with different ratios, but consistency is still favored.

Then complement your images with the preferred caption style and tagging for that social network. For example, on Instagram, tell a story to pull the user in and point them to a link in your bio to read more. On Pinterest, adding more information in the caption can help you receive more repins. Use Facebook to start a conversation. Questions to your audience and opinionated text updates paired with an image perform well there. On Twitter, stay short (100 characters or less) to give your audience enough space to retweet and make it their own.

4. Share consistently.

Finally, getting the visuals out there at the best times and consistently will help you build up an audience. The timing will be different for each network, but afternoons and evenings are often popular times for most networks.

To help make sure your content is going out at the right time, when it’s most likely to get the most engagement, use a scheduling tool to plan your content to be posted at the best times. Hootsuite and Buffer are great options for scheduling to Twitter. My company, Viraltag, allows you to schedule your visuals in advance to Pinterest and Instagram, along with the other social networks.

Finally, continue to watch your analytics. Are you getting more click-thrus from a certain type of visual or more engagement when you add certain tags? Iterate your schedule and you may see better results over time.


Is Your Business Prepared For Today’s Landscape?

The companies that master mobile are creating novel digital experiences that shape customers’ expectations of what brands can and should do for years to come.

Welcome to the Mobile Era, the Era of Big Data, the App Era, the Cloud Era—whichever name you prefer, we can all agree on its chief message…

that the days of “business as usual” are over. Innovation—specifically, continuous innovation—is essential for companies looking to shape their future and forge new paths.

[source: FastCompany] The shift from a physical to a digital economy has rewritten the rules of competition. Today, the rewriting occurs even faster, accelerated by mobility, the cloud, and ever-present security risks. Ask the world’s top executives and IT managers what keeps them up at night, and odds are they’ll describe the paradoxical nature of disruption. Call it the Uber Syndrome.

A new competitor with a new model, they fear, can catch them off guard and upend their entire industry. Uber isn’t the only billion-dollar case study. Look at the impact of Airbnb on hospitality; Netflix and Spotify on entertainment; BuzzFeed on media; Amazon on retail; and Apple on consumer electronics and telecommunications.

At the same time, these very executives and IT managers have the opportunity to carry out the disruption themselves. The same technology that enables a startup empowers existing players to innovate and reinvent their industry. A never-ending wave of new apps allows companies to better understand their customers and partners, and develop groundbreaking products or services faster than ever before.

But nonstop innovation requires its own ethos of motivation and its own set of organizational skills. And, of course, its own tools. In particular, the demands on corporate IT systems have never been greater—or more complex. Businesses need not only more computational, storage, and network capacity, but also more speed and flexibility. Or as Gary Barnett, the chief software analyst for London-based research firm Ovum, says, “Infrastructure capable of allowing companies to evolve different parts of their portfolio at different speeds.”

The Mobile Reimagining

Fueling the upheaval, of course, is the proliferation of mobile devices and apps. Next year, mobile connectivity to the Internet worldwide is projected to surpass fixed-line connectivity for the first time. The economic implications are significant: By 2018, global consumer spending via mobile is estimated to reach $626 billion, according to Goldman Sachs.

From an IT standpoint, mobile growth represents a formidable undertaking: After all, a single transaction, such as changing your airline seat or making a bank-to-bank transfer, instantly generates dozens of interactions with a corporate IT system (from account authentication to fraud analysis). Extrapolate that flurry of activity across a few billion smartphone users the world over and you get a sense of the urgency facing IT executives.

The companies that master mobile are creating novel digital experiences that shape customers’ expectations of what brands can and should do for years to come. “If you use an app on your phone to, say, open your hotel room door, that resets your expectation,” says Nigel Fenwick, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. “When you go into another hotel, your perception of value has changed.” The entire concept of a key suddenly becomes antiquated.

To coordinate the interplay between apps and back-end systems, companies are relying more on APIs, the software-based rules that allow applications to share data with each other and with IT systems. Increasingly, this communication is driven by machine processes rather than by a consumer or by a mobile device. “A huge amount of cognitive activity is taking place between businesses without any direct human intervention,” says Jason Gartner, CTO of API Economy at IBM. “The key to that automation is having the processes, tools, and DevOps culture to be agile and responsive.”

The behind-the-curtain technical jujitsu between databases, analytics code, and the cloud services that power such sophisticated automation is one of those feats that wasn’t possible until recently. But in short order, it’s remaking business operations and much of our digital lives.

Just a few years ago, simply having a mobile app set you apart. Soon after, the focus shifted to the best user interface. Now, a company distinguishes itself by the intelligence derived from its mobile data. In the right hands (read: right IT infrastructure), it can enable real-time personalization, the holy grail of digital experiences. The apps on your devices know you, anticipate your needs, and deliver in the moment.

We’re Guardians of Data Now

The snake in this garden of opportunity is the increase of cyberattacks, both in volume and sophistication. The number of new malware threats now exceeds a million a day, according to Symantec. Nearly half target big companies.

Today, a brand’s equity is inextricably tied to the trust a company establishes with data. “The biggest threats to this whole world of datafication are security and privacy,” says Irving Wladawsky-Berger, who worked for 37 years at IBM, much of it identifying emerging technologies. “If people don’t trust that their data will be both protected and properly used, they won’t share it or participate.”

That duality—the thrilling potential and the bracing risk of technology—epitomizes business for today’s IT executives. How do you recognize and seize opportunities in such a dynamic environment? How do you equip your organization to keep evolving? How do you innovate week in and week out?

Find the answers that work for you, and you’ll find yourself and your company on the right side of disruption.