How do you increase your social media engagement if you're a small or medium-sized company so that your social visibility grows?
The quick and easy answers to that question so that you don't have to read the entire article are the following. This way, you can get back to what you need to do rather than spending 5 or 10 minutes reading the article.
Test and analyze content types
Testing new forms of content can feel a little intimidating, mainly if your company is accustomed to doing things a specific way. However, one thing that can help you mitigate the risk and the fear of not knowing whether your new strategy is working or not is to have a content calendar outlining content topics/categories and how they will be communicated. Each piece of content must also be in line with the metrics you want to measure so that you can determine why a piece of content performed the way it did.
If you're not sure how to get started, here are few things you can think about when deciding the best format for social media and how to communicate a message.
What if I don't have a budget large budget?
Let's assume that you have decided that you want to try video for your social media platforms. Hiring a videographer to shoot and create a video can be costly if it is a one-off asset. However, instead of creating one video and hoping to perform well, you can still shoot one video and divide it into smaller pieces that put a story together. This way, you have a campaign that you can test, measure, and improve on your next campaign or your successive iterations of content.
Share information that your audience will love
How do you know what kind of information or content your audience will like?
Again, this goes back to testing different types of content and formats that cohesively come together so that you can measure and identify trends in your analytics. Your audience will tell you that they like your content based on likes, comments, shares, saves, or direct messages that you receive.
However, this is not to say that these are the only metrics to look at if you are creating a campaign. It's important to think about how other metrics may signal that your audience on social media likes your content. For example, maybe a piece of content you designed or created for a campaign is meant to drive traffic to your website, and you expect to drive 2000 users from IG to your website because you want people to know about your product or service. If you get less than 2000, does it mean that it fails? If you get double the amount of traffic to your website, does it mean it succeeded? Different purposes have different metrics, and how your audience shows you that they like your content depends on how your expectations are set from the beginning.
Develop a consistent brand per platform
Depending on the industry and the market you cater to, it's important to create content with how you want to present your brand on social media. Social media is a very loose, conversational channel that can show your brand's different facets of your company. It doesn't mean that your web brand should directly translate to Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, or TikTok.
For instance, Apple does not create content focused on Apple products on Instagram. Boeing does not just focus on commercial aviation. The creative direction and the communication that your brand can establish on social channels are dependent on the goals your company wants to develop.
Identify the best times and days to post
Did you know that if you disregard the times and days in which your audience is most active with your content and on your profile, you can be the one inhibiting your social media growth?
Despite differing opinions on when and how frequently to post, the times and days are available to you on your business Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, or YouTube profiles shining light for your business to post and create content on your terms and in the needs of your business. This is your personalized agenda on determining the frequency and days you should consider posting.
Reply back to people who comment on your posts.
Are you replying to comments people leave? Do you only answer to the negative comments and leave the positive comments out?
One of the simplest things that can help you increase your social media visibility is replying to comments people leave on your social media account. Believe it or not, people remember the comments they leave and whether you respond to them or not. If they are your biggest fan, they love your brand; they want to connect that someone inside your company takes the time to reply to them. Replying to someone signals to someone that they are important to your business, reinforcing the relationship a customer or a fan has with your brand.
Why is social media engagement important?
Social media engagement is the one key that enables your business to establish authority. People make a common mistake to assume that likes, comments, and shares are one way to measure engagement.
Engagement is a two-way street. The second way your business should consider measuring engagement should be spending time replying to people or connecting with other people on social media and reaching out to those who liked your post, spending time on competitor accounts, and commenting on their posts. An additional metric people don't look at is how many messages were sent out via direct messages and comments.
The more you spend time connecting with other accounts, Instagram, Facebook, Linked In, TikTok, improves the overall social media visibility, the audience groups you are connecting with to discover your profile and look at your content. Additionally, you also receive look-alike content in your suggestions page or explorer pages that you can use to reach out to similar accounts for your business and also build upon who your ideal client is.
Is social media engagement the only metric that I should worry about to improve my business?
Social media engagement is one thing to look at when people are considering options for a solution. People who like, comment, share, or save your posts are because they express intent and are in the consideration stage of their buyer's journey.
This is one reason why replying back to your comments, reaching out to people who liked or shared your post is crucial because you are actively engaging in their journey. It's a personalized approach that can signal to your biggest followers, fans and customers, how much you care about them and how much they're willing to vouch for you.
All elements from developing a brand, creating different content topics, replying, and understanding your audience's time frames are most active create a winning social media strategy that will get your social media up and running in no time.
So how do you get started?
There are a few things to consider for your approach. First, why is social media essential for your business, and how is a social media strategy going to improve your business performance? This is an important question because what we see happen is that there is a lot of business who see other companies doing social media and experience social media envy. Many companies take a one-to-one approach where they believe that the website brand should translate to social media and end up with content focused entirely on the business. In other situations, companies don't' know how social media is contributing to their business objectives or how social integrates into the fabric of the business.
Remember, social media is not about you; it's about them.
It's also important to note that your social audience is not a 1 to 1 comparison to your general company audience. Assuming that your social audience will resonate with the same message as your general company audience is a sure-fire not to reach your business objectives on social. Social media moves a lot faster than everything else, and to help your business, Astrobrand Media conducts a SWOT analysis to solve challenges and create your goals. Having an actionable social strategy allows us to dig deep into the numbers and the audience's sentiment on social so that you can find new customers and grow your business. If you're considering having a social media program that works for your business, your marketing team must work alongside creative minds to brainstorm ideas, conduct research, and layout the communication that aligns with your business goals and your audience. That way, you have measurable insights on how you're approaching your objectives if you're hitting your targets that you have outlines for your business on social.
Recently we had an opportunity to design a cover for an annual report. In case you didn't know, annual reports gives a run down about the financial success (or failure) of an organization and other business information. Needless to say it's an important document. Using a new tagline, Ionis Pharmaceuticals wanted a new look for their 2020 report. We documented some of our design process.
Design Basics | Layout thumbnail sketches
The best ideas start with a sketch. Thumbnails are mini sketches that express initial layouts. It is a great way to get ideas on paper and see what composition & layouts look like before putting a lot of work into them. You can disregard ideas that do not work. This technique is great for prototyping. Some designers feel more comfortable using software like Adobe Fresco on the IPad but nothing beats the feel of ink on the texture of paper.
Software | Adobe In-Design
The King of Layout
This is the shop standard for us. Adobe In-Design provides us with the ability to design and prototype quickly. It combines assets from Adobe Photoshop & Adobe Illustrator in a way that allows for ultimate creativity. Adobe In-Design gives you ultimate control of typography. We breakdown software into image manipulation, primarily done in Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustration for vector artwork and In-Design combines everything in a delicious recipe.
Assets | Gathering Resources
Copy, Logos, Typography, Photography
Where does it start, where do you start? The client should provide you assets and design specification details. The client should give you the text they want appeared on the cover, their logo and the size of the piece you are designing, in our instance it was letter size, 8.5" x 11". If they want specific photography the client will provide it as well. If they don't have a library, sourcing photography from an agency is extremely important. You need to have the rights to use the photo or illustration you want to use for the design. You can not pull images from Instagram or Google and use it. Resources we use are Shutterstock.com, Envato.com & GettyImages.com. These websites allow you to use the images with rights but there is a cost associated with it. You don't own the photos, it's almost renting them for a specific project.
Like photos, you need to have the rights to use fonts/ typefaces. We use Adobe Fonts, it gives you unlimited use and it integrates into The Adobe Creative Suite extremely well. Another resource we like are Google Fonts. You can source fonts in other ways but you have to be cautious when there are free fonts. They seem really cool and great but they may not work and may be trojan horses for viruses.
Now that you have all the moving pieces, it's time to design. Below is the design progress.
Round 1 | Initial design comps using the same design elements with different photography.
Design Round 1
This was our initial design concepts. Pioneering new markets makes you think of the future, the future of hope and care. The future of innovations and new medicines. The first design shows a patient with ALS, look up into the sky. The second photo shows a mother with her child. The third is a child exploring the unknown with wondrous curiosity. The feedback was they wanted to use more patients that use their medicines and more variations on design. Initially they wanted to keep the same design language they used in the prior year.
Round 2 | Design variations, using different elements and layouts.
Design Round 2
Based on the last feed back, we accessed their photo library and designed new concepts. The first design show movement adding a modern flow design element. Lighting up the photography, layout two breaks up the background with the foreground using the a strong branded color swatch. We use a modern background texture to encoke energy and the future. Concept three grounds us with a tender moment with a dad and his son playing in the waves. A pop of color is used to divide the family, separating them from the background and giving them more life. The final design is a family portrait with a hexagonal pattern showing technology connecting science and humanity.
Round 3 | These were the final 2 versions.
Design Round 3
We nailed it. With some of the adjustments to the typography and graphic elements. Below is their final choice.
The Final Design
Recap | Planning
Planning is key for any design process. Planning out your layouts, preparing your assets before you design will make the the process go more smoothly. Knowing where to source your design assets is extremely important. I have seen a designer go completely go through the design process, get the project approved but they didn't get the get the correct copyrights for the main photo they used resulting in delaying the process and requiring another approval cycle. There are definitely more steps involved in designing but this was a light overview of the process.
Our team specializes in design, mixing typography and photography. If you need help sourcing assets or need help with a project, drop us a line and we can collaborate or work on a project together.
It's 11:30 PM, you're on the 15th edit of the branding deck, and the marketing team has a presentation in the morning. You get a text message saying, "Can you rework the photo in part A, section 3?
The photo was in the design presentation deck throughout 15 revisions, and they want the photo edited at zero hours! Arrrgggghhhh, you yell... in your head... quietly... because everyone in the house is asleep, and you quietly put on your thinking cap and get back to work.
Sound all too familiar?
We have been in the creative & marketing world for over 20 years, and our Creative Director Mike Matamala, has seen it all. He shares one of the most frustrating but necessary parts of the creative process, the REWORK!
Rework creates division from the vision. As designers, we are problem solvers, not artists but using our creative tools and techniques to guide the narrative. At times in my career, I've had to compromise the vision to get approval. It gets tricky, especially when there is an approval committee. Usually, it's with a board of directors, and everyone has an opinion; the finance guy/gal doesn't get it but has a lot to say.
Here are some techniques I use to help overcome some of the challenges when working with clients or if you're an in-house designer:
Make yourself feel better
I designed a shirt out of encouragement and as a reminder that as you rework the problem, it may get a little fuzzy due to seesawing, up and down, back and around due to revisions. I was working with an amazing copywriter, and she was developing the language and the concept for a new branding theme. It was going to run for the year, and she was in the thick of it in a not-so-good day. She sounded defeated. I texted her, Rework is the Death of Creativity, and so, the shirt was born! It is a reminder that Rework is the Death of Creativity, and if you remember the first bullet point from the list above, "They HIRED you for a particular set of skills, your vision, and ideas," you can take back control of your sanity and creative direction.
Working in the creative world, the number of revisions that come in can drive you insane. Even when you follow the creative brief with precision as a German engineer. Designed out of blood, sweat, and tears poured on a project, this is a war cry for any content creator!
And if you ever feel defeated, discouraged, and burned out, take time to create and design something for yourself. This shirt is the first time I designed something for myself in an extremely long time. I have to admit, it did help me feel better!
You're a small business owner, a medium-sized business owner, or you work for a business that is considering using social media for business.
You see large companies on all social media platforms, and you're thinking, "How can I leverage social media?' and "What is the value that it's going to bring to your business?"
Should you hire someone to launch, manage, create, analyze and strategize? Or should you hire an inside team, a freelancer, or a marketing agency, maybe?
How about the social media platforms? Are you going to be using Clubhouse, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, BIGO, Cameo, and Snapchat? Or are you going to focus on a few?
Or when is it really the right time to start using social media for business?
Can social media really help your business?
The answer to those questions really is, "It depends on you and where your business is at." We're going to help you acquire clarity on whether you should be on social media, the platforms to use, how you should start, and when is the time that you should hire someone for social media. The cost of running your social media efforts can differ depending on how many social media platforms you use, the people you hire, the types of campaigns you run, and if you're leveraging social media advertising and what you want to accomplish.
Alright, let's tackle question one.
Should my business be on social media?
This is a straightforward question to answer, and the reason for that is because we must first determine what you're in the business of and if your customers are online.
So how are we able to determine that?
Here is an overview of the most used social media platforms as compiled by Hootsuite and We Are Social. Facebook is by in large, has the most users worldwide. From this graph, you can see that the adoption of social media worldwide is mainstream, and your customer can be found across different platforms depending on a few key demographics.
To determine which platform your audience is most likely using, the Pew Research center has identified that different platforms appeal to different age groups. For example, from the graph, you can see that YouTube and Facebook are used by almost any age group, compared to Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter, where the audience is younger. LinkedIn skews a little bit older to a professional audience.
When considering your target audience's gender LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter have a similar reach among men and women. On the other hand, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram skew towards females, and Pinterest is predominantly female.
Why is this information important? (What social media platforms should I use?)
For simplicity, let's assume your business is a sporting goods company, and one of your core verticals is selling women's attire and other sporting goods for women.
An ideal approach would be to use Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest and create content for a specific age group you want to connect with on each platform. We outline and map out who your ideal customer is for each social media platform. That way, everything social media marketing activity can be measured, improved, and see the overall impact it has on your account and business growth.
Is it necessary to go after all social platforms?
Not really. Just because many companies are using all social media platforms, it doesn't mean that your company should. Having alignment with your business goals and adopting the platforms that will support your goals is more important.
Let's say, for example, that one of your goals is to get sales from social media. Your company wants to promote a sale towards women who enjoy sports, are working professionals. As outlined above, the topmost ideal platforms would be Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. But let's say that you want to implement a video strategy, then YouTube would also be a great fit because your ideal customer also spends time on YouTube.
What social media can and cannot do?
Another factor to consider on whether you should use social media for your brand is your business growth state and its priorities to grow your business.
Your business is like a car, and social media is the front left tire of your business. By itself, social media isn't going to pull the entire weight of your business.
It's kind of like if a business relied solely on ranking number one on the first page of Google for leads, only relying on sales teams, or solely relying on Google Ads. Your company has multiple sources in which it connects with prospects, and each method needs to be organized to meet your business goals. Social media should be integrated within your company's fabric to provide an outstanding customer experience, excellent brand recognition, and responsiveness to an audience who finds your brand.
As an integral part of your business, it improves your brand's visibility, increases brand awareness, generates web traffic, and gets sales and conversion. If your social media initiatives are siloed from other functions and focus exclusively on sales, you will most likely not get the benefits you would like from social media. The purpose of social media is to build relationships so that when your audience is ready to purchase from you, your brand is already there.
Or, you may be a business with established social media channels, and your purpose of hiring may be dependent on a campaign that you want to launch.
So what are your next steps?
If you're set to explore the possibilities of social media and discover the path in which you can take, connect with us. We promise that we won't do any selling because we don't know if we are a good fit for you.
The QR code has had a resurgence since the pandemic hit in early 2020. Many restaurants shifted from having printed menus to having QR codes on their tables and their signage. But what happened to QR codes, and where did they go.
Invented 25 years ago, Hara Masahiro created the Quick Response (QR) Code. It was developed to replace a barcode system because it was inefficient; employees at the company he worked at had to scan boxes multiple times. (Full Story)
As a designer, I hated them. It was a square white box with smaller black ones that had no personality. Not only that, people would have to download a separate application on their mobile device to make it work. I used them on packaging, postcards & posters. We would code in custom URLs to track interactions, and we never got a hit. In my design life, it was rarely used and would persuade customers not to use them. They slowly faded away in my work until March 2020.
I was designing a 200+ page companion book for The Hairdresser Power Challenge Show when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Salons across the nation were closed or operated at a limited capacity due to pandemic restriction. The initial plan was to have the book displayed in every salon that promoted the show and Enjoy hair products. One of the closure's limitations was not to have items customers can touch and possibly spread infections. The company was lucky; just before business closures, the company received quotes for printing, but the company never pulled the print trigger. The company still wanted to showcase the book to its partners and partner's customers nation-wide, so it pivoted.
The Company Pivots
It changed its tactics. Instead of shipping a 200-page book, the company sent window clings with a QR code that led readers to the book's content. It would have been a shame if the company didn't share the fantastic work of the stylist. You can scan the QR code with your smart device, and it would take you to a landing page hosting the book. There is their work: Hairdresser Power Challenge Beauty Book
Reintroducing the QR Code
Little did people know that a tool that so many marketers and designers hated on would come back. Almost considered extinct with little or no use in the consumer industry, the QR code became one of the most valued tools for many companies worldwide. Especially in restaurants that allowed limited seating capacity, it enabled businesses to provide a touch-free experience while keeping their customers safe. It offered their customers a digital menu to load on their phones by simply opening up their camera app, pointing it toward the QR Code, and voila information at your fingertips. A touchless experience that disabled the spread of infection, but most importantly, kept businesses running and connected with their customers.
In the beauty and cosmetics industry, the company took care of its partners by implementing the QR code. It enabled my company's partners to keep connected with their customers while visiting the salon at a limited capacity.
Since this project, it definitely opened our eyes. There is an application for every design element as long as it is functional and solves a particular problem.