Category: Web

Guest post by Sacha Cohen of Grassfed Media

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What’s that you say?  You don’t think your business needs to be on Instagram? If you’re an actuary, doctor, or mortician, you could be right. For everyone else, listen up. Instagram has more than 500 million active monthly users who have shared more than 40 billion photos in just over six years! And now that Facebook owns Instagram, for better or worse, growth continues to skyrocket.

So why should you care? An engaged and active audience on Instagram could mean more leads for your business, boosted sales, better brand recognition, new partnership opportunities, and meaningful connections worldwide. In fact, according to Instagram Advertiser statistics, 60 percent of IG users say that they learn about a product or service on the platform and 75 percent take an action, such as visiting a website, after looking at an Instagram advertising post.

Instagram, and any social media platform for that matter, is an extension of your brand. It’s a way to build long-lasting customer and client relationships, and to tell your company’s story through images. As with any communications or marketing channel, you should be consistent with content and visual identity. If your brand identity is casual, fun, and inspirational, your IG account should reflect that. A good example is Play-Doh. Few brands scream fun and creative quite like this one, and its IG feed cleverly reflects its quirky and fun-filled personality.

Insta

If your brand is more corporate and conservative, well, don’t go posting photos from that crazy company happy hour or beer pong tournament. Take the time to think about how to tell your organization’s story visually and try to adhere to a [reasonably] consistent visual narrative if possible.

Photos are Everything

I cannot stress this enough: Your photos need to be awesome. Why? Because Instagram is a visually driven channel where the quality of your images can make or break you. Nothing will turn off followers faster than out-of-focus, poorly composed photos or way off-brand images. But you have some options for how to make great photos happen. Either you can work with a pro, learn how to take amazing photos on your own, or leverage stock photography that doesn’t suck.

Want to DIY? Here are some basic Instagram photo tips from the Digital Photography School:

  • Take pictures in lighting that is soft when can see detail in the highlights and the shadows, and if you can, shoot during the “golden hour”—the first and last hour of daylight.
  • Shoot from unusual angles. Shoot down. Shoot from below. Shoot with objects in the foreground to blur out.
  • Create depth by using lines, repetition, and space with foregrounds and backgrounds.
  • Follow the rules of thirds by keeping the horizon and other strong lines on the grid lines. Instagram lets you keep grid lines on when you shoot to make this effortless.
  • Get close up (3-6 inches), especially with small objects, so you really capture their detail.

Engage, Engage, Engage

It’s called social media for a reason. Follow other like-minded people and brands that inspire you, comment and like other users’ posts, have a conversation, and repost amazing content once in a while.  Take the time to get to know your audience and fans, build meaningful relationships, and perhaps consider whether a dedicated influencer strategy might be right for your business.

Hashtag Know-How

Hashtags on Instagram can have a big impact on your levels of engagement and reach. Here are a few basic guidelines to help you get started:

  • Be specific, relevant and observant. For example, a photograph of your favorite veggie burger might not only include #vegetarian but also #forksoverknives #beyondmeat #vegansofig and #eeeats
  • What tags are others, particularly your target audience, competitors and influencers, using? By adding those tags, your photos will be easier to find in search and you’ll be able to reach and connect with more like-minded users.
  • Numbers are allowed in hashtags. But spaces and special characters, like $ or %, won’t work.
  • You can use up to 30 tags on a post. If you include more than 30 tags on a single photo/video, your comment won’t post.
  • Want to find out what hashtags are hot on Instagram? Check out Webstagram. Popular tags right now are #love, #beautiful and #food. The site also lists top Instagrammers. From #ManCrushMonday to #WednesdayWisdom, there’s even a site that includes top hashtags for each day of the week.

For a deep dive into all things hashtag-related, check out this handy guide from Later.

In Instagram, as in life, timing is everything. Generally speaking you’ll want to post during times when your audience is online and not focused on something else like work. Good times to post include before work, during lunch time and in the evenings. I have personally found that around 9 pm EST works well for my company, but when you post will depend on your audience and what time zone you’re in. Experiment to find out what times work best for you and then stick to a consistent publishing schedule.

About Sacha
Sacha Cohen is the founder of Grassfed Media, a boutique PR and marketing firm that works with companies and nonprofits that do well by doing good.

A commonly asked question is, should I be using social media to promote my business?  In today’s digital age, the answer is a resounding yes.

What are the benefits of social media?  Well, first and foremost, almost every social media outlet is about building relationships – and building relationships is at the core of every key business transition.  By building a relationship with your customers, you enhance loyalty and turn them into brand ambassadors and repeat customers.

Social media is also a great way to increase your visibility.  The more you show a consistent outward facing brand, the more likely you are to be top of mind when customers are in a position to buy.

Another benefit is quick, real time feedback from customers.  This will allow you to roll out a product or service and quickly pivot if the reaction is not as expected.  This could potentially mean saved money on ineffective advertising, and new ideas for product development that will enhance the customer experience.

With more and more customers moving online, I think that asking if you should be on social media is entirely the wrong question.  The right question is not whether you should be using it, but rather which outlet is the best in reaching out to customers, and how should you use that outlet…

In the last year, as many of you out there may have noticed, we’ve expanded our offerings to include web design and development. But what many of you may not know, is the in order to do so, I’ve enlisted the help of someone who supports me in a myriad of ways – my husband, Ryan Jensen, who happens to be a web developer.

When people find out a designer married a web developer, they always comment on how convenient it must be. In many ways, it is great – he partners with me to make sure your websites not only look the way they are designed, but also to make sure they work the way they were intended. I do the initial design, he does the coding and then I often jump back in to work with the content.

We’ve met some interesting clients along the way, and I’d love to share those collaborations with you here.

Capitol Romance

Bree Ryback of Capitol Romance came to us for a revamp of her off-beat wedding blog.  For her site, we started with a template, and made a variety of modifications, including the addition of a slider and a vendor guide.  Bree’s site is fully responsive.  Visit Capitol Romance here.

Lisa Colozza Cocca

Lisa Colozza Cocca came to us for a website prior to the launch of her first Young Adult Novel, Providence.  Lisa’s site was designed and built from scratch. As with many of my clients, due to distance, all discussion was done virtually.  At the end of the project, Lisa afforded me a wonderful testimonial – “The most common [comment] from people I know well is “It’s so you.” That is quite a compliment to you, since we have never even met.” Visit Lisa Colozza Cocca here.

Gordon & Alpert

Gordon & Alpert is a start-up risk management strategic research firm. After a rocky start with their first web designer/developer, they came to Stacy Kleber Design, LLC to start over. We’ve created not only their website, but their brochure and business cards as well.  Aside from the logo, which they created, we were able to define the look and feel of their brand. Visit Gordon & Alpert here.

To see more of Ryan’s work, visit his website at www.ryanjjensen.com.  To get in touch with us and have your website designed or refreshed, visit www.skleber.com.

 

Many of you out there might wonder, “Why should I spend the time to redesign my site?  This website my niece/nephew designed and coded for me in 1999 still works, and websites are expensive!”

Think of it this way.  Would you go in to that job interview in a wrinkled suit, with no resumé?

Your website is, for many customers, the first impression they have of your business.  Your website doesn’t necessarily need all the latest bells and whistles, but it does need to look current and professional.  After all, this is what the customer is basing their decision to contact you on.

If your website is hard to navigate, the customer may give up before they find your contact information.  If it is dated and sloppy, the customer may perceive the business as out of touch, and move on to a more polished competitor.  Every customer that leaves the site without a purchase has a cost for you and your business – a cost in the long run that goes way beyond the cost of a refresh.

I’ll leave you with a few keys to a good website design:

Easily navigable.

Easy to use across platforms (from mobile to tablet to desktop).

Fast load time.

Memorable url that makes sense for your business.

 

Pinterest is one of the newer social media platforms, which took the world by force.  On Pinterest, you upload or “pin” products from a website to a board that belongs to your profile.  Pinterest is especially popular with weddings and foodies, but has become successful in promotion for a range of businesses.

Getting Started

To get started, you need to set up a profile with a picture.  The image is 165px by 165px, but any square image larger will work and resize to fit the box.

Boards

After you have a profile, you can set up names of boards.  You  may have one for your products – for example as a designer, I might have one for my design work – but don’t stop there.  One of the keys to Pinterest is that you can have related boards.  Maybe my design profile would have a “typography” board or a “book cover” board with inspirational pins.  By pinning related topics, you will attract others who have similar interests, and can position yourself as an expert.  Ideally, you want to have a mix of original content, as well as content shared by others.

Content

When posting original content, you should make sure that it links back to your business site, or to the product page.  This is a good way to increase traffic, as every image increases click through traffic.

When pinning content from others, be aware of the site that it came from.  Some pins click through to a dead end.  This can be frustrating to the user.  It is said up to 80% of pins are repins, so take advantage of the already related content to increase your followers.

Pinterest has recently started sending emails to users when prices drop on products they have pinned.  If you have a web shop, posting products can be a great promotional tool, as in times of sale, users will get a reminder.

Using Pinterest on your Website

In addition to pinning yourself, you can add a “Pin It!” button on your site so people can easily pin your content.  This means they will be pinning to their own boards, not to yours.  It is a good way to get exposure.  You can keep track of who is pinning by using Pinterest Analytics for Business.

I hope that this will help you get started with the basics of Pinterest for your business.  Have any other tips?  Comment below!

After a short hiatus this winter, I’d like to do a series of posts on using social media in your business.  Not every social media is right for every business, so I encourage you to try them out and see what works for you.  See where your followers come from, and where your conversions are happening and focus your time and energy on that.

One of my favorite social media tools, and the focus of this post, is Twitter.

The setup

When you first set up your Twitter account, you will want to set up a profile picture and a header image.

The profile picture is what will show up next to all your tweets. This image should be 81px by 81px and depending on your business, this might be a photo of you or a part of your logo.  Remember it should be something iconic, as it will be the main thing people interact with.

The header image shows up at the top of your feed.  This image should be 520px x 260 px.  This needs to be somewhat simple, as there will be text over it.

You also have the option of setting up a background image for your Twitter.  Many companies use their logos in this to reinforce the brand.

The lingo

When you start tweeting, you will need to know a bit about the lingo.  Some key terms for Twitter are below:

RT or the retweet:  RT is used when want to share someone else’s tweet word for word.  An example of this would be, “RT @skleberdesign Today is a very cold day in DC”  You can also RT using a button below each tweet.

# or hashtags: Hashtags help users search your tweets and also make it easy to follow a particular conversation. Though hashtags have become increasingly fantastical, they should be used with good sense and care.  An example of a hashtag would be “Today is a cold day in DC #DC #weather”

Via: If you change some of the wording in a retweet, you might want to use the words “via” to give the original person credit.  An example of this would be “Today is a cold day in DC, via @skleberdesign”

H/T, hat tip or heard through: HT can be used to recognize a user who initially told you about a specific link or piece of information. This is much like via.

MT or modified tweet: A modified tweet indicated that the tweet is not original, but is also different from when it was originally posted by the credited user.

@ or at: You should use @ before a username when referencing a user.  This will make the user aware that you have tweeted “at” them or referred to them.

The results

When I recommend Twitter, I always tell people that in order to be successful, you need to interact with users.  You can’t set up auto posts and ignore all the responses.  And you can’t link it to your Facebook and never log in.  Start conversations.  Ask questions and respond to the answers.  These are all good ways to build a presence.

Following people is also a good way to garner your own followers.  Often, when you follow people, they follow you back.  There are sites out there that can help you see who you follow, and the last time they tweeted.  This will help you weed out those that you follow that are inactive, freeing you up to follow other people.

Another thing that I highly recommend with Twitter is to post more than once a day.  Many people follow over a thousand users.  If you tweet once a day, that tweet is likely to get lost in a sea of other tweets.  Tweet often and respond often – but do so conscientiously and with relevant content.

Hopefully, this post will help you to get a good start on Twitter.  Have something to add?  Feel free to post in the comments.

Responsive design is a hot topic in the web world these days.  As more and more users are accessing the internet on a variety of platforms, it is becoming essential that companies keep up with them. I was recently asked to do a presentation on responsive design, and I thought I would share that knowledge with you here.

So what is responsive design?

Responsive design is designing a website that adapts to the user’s environment using media queries. This includes everything from mobile phones to tablets to different sizes of desktop screens.  Unlike regular websites, which show up the same on every platform, layouts and design elements change depending on the platform you are using to better serve the user’s experience. This may mean condensing the navigation and changing the size of the images, among other things.

Most of the time, when we design for a responsive site, we design with 3-4 sizes in mind.  Full computer screen, tablet vertical, tablet horizontal, iPhone and Android are some of the common considerations. Many testing labs have been established for those who don’t have access to all of these devices when checking their site. There is also software that lets you simulate the experience.

Is responsive design just a new, cool look?

Not at all – responsive design is about functionality and ease of use. Good designers take into account the user experience depending on the platform.  This would mean larger buttons for ease of use on a mobile device, as well as thinking about how to streamline the purchasing process on a phone or tablet. The less clicks, the better.

Why should you care?

Mobile and tablet use is exploding – growing exponentially all the time. We can’t design solely for desktop any longer and expect users to accept that.  From a marketing perspective, I was told at An Event Apart DC that conversion rates on mobile are actually higher when sites are responsive.  Google also takes into account whether or not your site is responsive for search ranking.

Is it just for designers?

No!  Repsonsive design is slowly becoming mainstream.  it has been adopting by the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, the Boston Globe newspaper and even Starbucks. These companies care about the customer experience – and responsive design improves that experience.

Though it takes longer and is more expensive to build a responsive site, the investment is worth it. It is becoming a consumer expectation that will not be ignored.