Social Media: Getting Your Employees Involved

Social media is an essential part of running a successful business. However, a business can only be as strong as its weakest link. What this means is that it is not enough to use social media yourself; your employees must be involved as well. These people are the glue that holds your business together and like the secret sauce of successful business social media use.

Mixing Business and Pleasure

Chances are good that the majority of your employees already use some form of social media for personal purposes. This makes it all the easier to get them involved in your company’s social media sites. Ask your employees to advertise for your business on their personal pages. If possible, offer incentives for them to do so. In fact, many businesses have found success in turning employee social media use into a contest. Here is an example:

Whoever gets the most friends to connect to the company page wins <insert prize>

Not only does this boost employee morale, it get everyone to work harder for a common goal.

Building Customer Friendships

Encourage your employees to be active on the company social media page. You can do this by making some or all of them administrators of the page. This way they can interact with customers one on one. Depending on the type of business you run, you can also require your employees to open their own social media page just for company use. For example, if you run a salon, have your hair and nail technicians open their own business page to advertise their services. For personal care service businesses, people usually choose their favorite artist and stick with them. If they have their own personal business page their customers can go there to get deals, make appointments, ask questions, etc.

Team Building

Maintaining a social media page for a business takes time and effort. For these reasons, it is not feasible to make your social media platforms successful on your own. This is where your employees come in. Build teams to work on different aspects of the page. For instance, customers enjoy looking at photographs, so put together a team of employees to work solely on graphics. You can also build a team to update the page with new sales, discounts, contests, etc. By team building you can make sure that every employee gets involved in the success of your social media platform(s).

This article originally appeared on http://www.learnmarketing.com.au/social-media/social-media-getting-your-employees-involved/

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3 UX Tools You Should Be Using Right Now

By Sandra D’Souza

1. POP Prototyping on paper

POP is a mobile app for Android and iOS that lets you import your sketches by taking a picture. POP automatically adjusts brightness and contrast to make sure your sketches are legible and clear. Create wireframes on your favourite notebook.

2. QuirckTools

QuirckTools helps you to collaborate with clients and coworkers. From helping you share your creative compositions, to building prototypes right in your web browser, we’ve got you covered.

3. Solidify

Solidify lets you create clickable prototypes from sketches, wireframe, or mockup. Validate user flows on any device by performing user tests in person, remotely or on your testers own time to get the feedback you need.

This article originally appeared in http://www.learnmarketing.com.au/user-experience/3-ux-tools-you-should-be-using-right-now/

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How Do You Know Which Social Network is Right for Your Company?

By Pat Gudhka

If you are a business owner it is very likely that people have told you a million times that you should be using social media to help boost your business and drag it into the 21st century. If you have not done so yet you should be taking this advice very seriously. Social media not only increases sales, but it also increases customer retention. These things are true even if you run a small business. This is something that many companies make incorrect assumptions about. In this case, size really does not matter. Social media platforms are not just for large businesses; they work just as well, if not better, for smaller businesses. They even work well for mom and pop companies. Now that you know this and are (hopefully) ready to dive into the world of social media, how do you know which network is right for you? Read on to find out!

Calling in the Professionals

I want to start with this option because not everyone is familiar with the aspects of using social media for business or personal reasons. If this is you and you don’t have anyone to turn to, calling in a professional can do you a great service. There are people who specialize in social media networking for businesses and they will be able to tell you just what platform(s) are the best for your type of business.

Facebook

We begin by discussing Facebook since it is hands down the most popular form of social media with Twitter following in a close second. Facebook is by far the most popular social media network for all sorts of businesses and thus can give your brand the most exposure online. Even if another platform may be best for your particular company, using Facebook too certainly cannot hurt you. Now keep in mind what products or services you offer though. The top Facebook users fall into two separate categories; people between the ages of 25 and 34 and people between the ages of 45 to 54. The amount of men and women who use Facebook is a pretty even split, plus the majority of users have some form of higher education.

Twitter

If your products and services are targeted towards the younger urban type of crowd then Twitter is perfect for your business. Demographic information shows that the largest number of Twitter users is African American and this can be helpful to your company depending on what you are offering. Again, it all depends on your target audience. Also keep in mind that the majority of Tweeters live in larger cities, so if your company is located in a large city Twitter may be your best plan of action.

Other popular platforms are LinkedIn and Pinterest. Each has its own upsides and downsides. The bottom line though is why chose? When it comes to marketing and social media, it is best to use all of the above. From there you can chart the results. Once you see what works best for your business you can focus more energy on it. It is all about testing and tracking. Open up accounts on all the top social media platforms and reassess the results in thirty days to see where you stand.

This article originally appeared on http://www.learnmarketing.com.au/social-media/how-do-you-know-which-social-network-is-right-for-your-company/

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The ‘Flat’ Look – Passing Trend or Strategic Move?

By Pat Gudhka

Flat design is getting more and more popular with each passing day, and while people often dismiss this style of design as simply altering the aesthetic component of a digital product, take a look deeper and you’ll notice a lot more strategy behind the ‘flat’ look.

Despite the restraints of minimalism, flat design offers sophistication and complexity. It aims to embrace the limits of the screen, streamline designs, make exploring the web easier and faster, and often more functional. It trades in the gradients for plain colours, a reaction to the smothering skeuomorphic designs that we see everywhere.

‘Skeuomorphism’, in context of the digital world, is to emulate any objects in the physical world in the Graphical User Interface or GUI.  Apple products are popular for skeuomorphism – take the Apple Clock for example; the design incorporates subtle details such as the shuddering movement of the second hand that otherwise only happens on the physical counterpart.

Problems with Skeuomorphism:

  • It limits creativity and functionality when emulating components that are irrelevant in the digital format.
  • It looks inconsistent when combined with less dimensional components.
  • It can take up valuable screen space and increase load times.

Is flat design the solution?

  • Flat design embraces the limitations of the digital experience. By accepting that anything on a screen will never truly look three dimensional, it strips away the decorative illusion and uses beautiful yet simple design to create a better user experience.
  • It looks friendly and inviting, but it does this by displaying a clear, engaging GUI rather than mimicking a physical product that you are familiar with. It strips out the unnecessary visual elements but is not as restrictive as minimalism.
  • It works great for small screens, particularly app or mobile design. The Android platform and the Windows Phone both use flat design for their operating systems.
  • Through simplicity, it allows users to grasp messages more quickly. Images such as icons can indicate universal actions or purposes so that any user can easily understand them. The Noun Project is a great resource for such icons, supporting the flat design approach.
  • It ‘pops’ through the use of vivid colour – lots of it! In the example below you can see the UI aspect of searching for a flight on an app designed by Indonesian UI designer Bady and how the design relies on colours and icons to give users meaning.
  • It puts the focus back on words. The message on your site is essential, and flat design gives you the responsibility to play with the typography and layout to truly explore what works.

Because it strips away all the unnecessary components of design, flat design is often hard to achieve and requires a lot of work and attention to every detail. There are no places to hide with this approach.

That being said, flat design has all the ingredients to make a site beautiful and enhance functionality. It understands that a sense of familiarity is important to the user experience but does this via the digital medium and not through replication of the physical world. It’s adaptable and open to new ideas, and is far more than a passing fad.

This article originally appeared on http://www.learnmarketing.com.au/user-experience/the-flat-look-passing-trend-or-strategic-move/

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User Experience: The Terms You Need To Know

By Pat Gudhka

General terms used in UX and their definitions:

Accessibility

The attributes and characteristics of a system allowing people with limited vision, hearing, dexterity, cognition or physical mobility to interact effectively with a website. Guidelines are available and certain standards can often be enforced in some markets.

Brainstorming

A method for generating ideas, with the intention to inspire a free-flowing discussion and exploration of thoughts of an individual or a team, typically while avoiding criticism in order to promote uninhibited thinking.

Braindrawing

Braindrawing is a type of visual brainstorming in which a group of participants sketch ideas for designs, icons, screen layouts, or other visual concepts.

Card Sorting

A technique for exploring how people group items represented by cards, so that you can develop structures that maximise the probability of users being able to find items easily and effectively.

Cognitive Walkthrough

The cognitive walkthrough is a usability evaluation method in which one or more evaluators work through a series of tasks and ask a set of questions from the perspective of the user.

Persona

Fictional person created to model and describe the goals, needs, and characteristics of a specific type or group of users. Does not describe a real, individual user nor an average user. Often includes made-up personal details to make the fictional person more “real”.

Scenario

A story which has the key elements of a realistic situation when the user would interact with the system being designed or evaluated. The scenario includes consideration of the user’s goals, tasks and interaction. Scenarios can be created for user groups, workflows or tasks to explore, understand and test the different types of needs and goals.

Storyboard

A technique for illustrating an interaction between a person and a product (or multiple people and multiple products) in narrative format, which includes a series of drawings, sketches, or pictures and sometimes words that tell a story.

Usability

Usability is the degree to which something – software, hardware or anything else – is easy to use and a good fit for the people who use it.

Wireframe

Rough outline of navigation and content elements that make up a user interface. Typically visual design and precise layout are not addressed.

This article originally appeared on http://www.learnmarketing.com.au/user-experience/user-experience-the-terms-you-need-to-know/

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How Facebook Can Help to Increase Your Businesses Exposure

By Sandra D’Souza

Social media is not just for friendly conversations and sharing photos with family and friends anymore. Businesses are finding it to be an invaluable tool as well. While there are many forms of social media, Facebook is the one that started it all and continues to be one of the top social media platforms to help boost business in extreme ways. Keep reading to find out how Facebook can help your business flourish like you always dreamed it could.

Friends of Friends of Friends

Facebook is a great way to connect with people. If you already have a personal page with many friends on your list, these are the first people you can target. Creating a business page and inviting your Facebook friends can help your information spread like wild fire. Think of it just like another form of word of mouth. Here is a good example to help you get a clearer picture of what this could mean to your business:

Personal Facebook Friends- 516

Personal Friends that “Like” Your Business Page- 352

Friends of Your Personal Friends Who Like Your Business Page- 764

See where this is going? By just getting “likes” from your personal friends you can build mountain of Facebook followers! Of course not every person who follows or likes your business page will become an active customer, but the exposure is worth every bit of effort you put into your page.

It Pays to Advertise

When Facebook first launched it was pure social media. However, it quickly became very popular and with popularity comes change. One big change that has occurred on Facebook over the past few years is ads. Once the site owners saw that businesses were taking a solid interest in Facebook they launched a brand new feature – advertising slots. Businesses that purchase ad slots on Facebook have their ads seen on the sides of the news feed pages, as well as on various areas of personal pages. The ads invite people to like your page and check out what you have to offer. Not only can this draw more people to your door but it is a great way to put your company name in people’s minds. Even if they do not need what  you offer at the moment they see your ad, when they do need you they will recall your advertisement on their favorite social media site! Plus, Facebook advertising is cost effective compared to other ad mediums.

Contests, Drawings, Sweepstakes

Nobody can resist the chance to get something for nothing or something at a discount. Once you have your page up and running you can offer your followers the chance to enter contests, drawings and sweepstakes. You can give away prizes or offer discounts to the winners. Another good way to go with this angle is to offer special discounts and offers to only those who like your Facebook page. This has worked well for many companies. For instance, if you run a restaurant you can advertise on site that there are lunch specials that are only open to those who follow your page. Don’t be afraid to get creative. The worst thing that can happen is nothing! The best thing is everything!

 

This article originally appeared in http://www.learnmarketing.com.au/social-media/how-facebook-can-help-to-increase-your-businesses-exposure/

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How to Get the Most Out of Social Media

By Pat Gudhka

Living in a world full of technology it has become impossible not to take advantage of social media when it comes to growing and maintaining a successful business. Like anything else that is worthwhile, using social media for your business can be hard work. However, if you use it properly it can deliver excellent results that are long lasting. Of course this is exactly what you want so keep reading and you will find social media success!

There are several social media platforms to choose from and all of them have a positive way to help boost your success rates. The key is to figure out which platforms offer what. Consider who your target audience is and this will help you decide which platforms to focus the right amount of energy on. For the purpose of this article we will focus on the top four social media platforms: Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Twitter

Twitter has become a massive social media platform. While many people are intimidated by Twitter, once you get the hang of tweeting you will find out just how valuable it can be to your business. Twitter has over 250 million users. While people of all ages and walks of life use Twitter, the average user is young (between the ages of 18 and 30) and affluent in a large variety of internet applications. Twitter is a great platform for B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to customer) relations. Using Twitter puts you in the light of an expert in your field and is a perfect way to mine for both customers and prospective employees.

Pinterest

Pinterest is the newest social media platform. Although it only has about 12 million users it is growing at a fast pace. If your target consumer is women then this is an excellent platform choice as the majority of Pinterest users are female. The type of businesses that find the most success with Pinterest are restaurants, retail stores and beauty stores such as hair and nail salons and spas.

Facebook

Most everyone on the planet knows about Facebook. Currently it has over 800 million users making it the largest social media platform in the world. Facebook is good for any type of business because there is no specific profile for its users. Both men and women use is. People of all ages use it. People from all walks of life and all areas of the world use it. So, no matter whom your target audience is you cannot go wrong with Facebook. Not only does Facebook get your name and product/service out there, it also allows you to develop personal relationships with your clientele.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the newest platform for businesses. In the beginning LinkedIn was developed for the use of individuals. The newest development with this platform is company pages. The reason that this change has occurred is that the site owners realized that it was an excellent was for business to business marketing. It is also a great way to find new customers and employees, and with over 150 million current users, LinkedIn is possibly the next best thing for business owners.

If you are still unsure what form of social media to use for your company, ask your customers. They are the best ones to garner this type of information from since they are the ones who keep you afloat. Whatever you decide, remember to give it all you have since it is one of the best ways technology has to offer when it comes to building credibility and brand awareness.

This article originally appeared on http://www.learnmarketing.com.au/social-media/how-to-get-the-most-out-of-social-media/

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5 Tips To Get You Blogging The Right Way

By Sandra D’Souza

Simple layout is best. Too much clutter will distract your readers from the content which is the real reason they are on your blog. Avoid placing any irrelevant content and ads within the blog posts and make it easy for users to navigate from one post to the next.

  • Clear and hierarchical typography (headings and body text) will help present your blog in an easy to read format. Choose fonts wisely and relate them back to your blog personality. For example it’s easier for a baking blog to use a fun font than it is for a financial advice blog as it may dilute trust in the latter.
  • White space is great space as it allows you to accentuate images and content. Avoid flashy backgrounds and if you do happen to have lots of colour, use white borders to highlight key parts of your blog.
  • Make it easy to search. A blog means a number of posts and as you grow it becomes increasingly important for your users to have a quick and seamless way to get to the content they want. Whether it’s by tagging your content, providing advanced search or categorising your posts, design your blog with content archiving in mind.
  • Have a responsive layout. With the increasing use of smartphones and tablets, your users will want to be able to read your blog without having to constantly pinch and zoom. Lots of blogging platforms such as WordPress and Tumblr offer responsive options so be sure to check them out.

 

This article originally appeared in http://www.learnmarketing.com.au/content-marketing/5-tips-to-get-you-blogging-the-right-way/

– Something extra: We’ve also been introduced to firstsiteguide.com, helping those who need a hand in starting their own blogs. If you’re looking to be a personal blogger, you could consider checking them out.

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