Mar 30 2018

Social Media Tools for Success

Running a full-scale social media marketing campaign for one business is a lot of work. You’re responsible for creating and scheduling content, keeping up on analytics, honing strategies, and developing a brand voice that engages directly with potential customers. All across multiple accounts, ideally with some coordination between them (but without too much crossover).

Luckily the tools that assist in this kind of work have become more sophisticated. As a social media marketing professional, I’m here to tell you about the most essential apps and services that you can use to succeed.

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash.

Post Scheduler

This is the number one essential tool. It makes managing posts across platforms much easier. You can plan and schedule your content in advance, across multiple platforms, and a whole lot more depending on the service you choose.

Hootsuite is the most well-known and popular scheduler, but there are many options out there. Services like Buffer, Sprout Social, and Social Pilot all have the same basic set of features. However, their user-interfaces and other functionalities can be wildly different. To find the one that works for you, consider the scale of your project(s), budget, and the ancillary tools that come with some platforms (phone app in addition to web browser, social media analytic tools, etc…). Don’t be afraid to try a new platform and find out how it really works. Many of these platforms have free trials or even full plans for free. Trying something is the best way to determine if it will suit your needs.

Listen Socially

“Social listening” is the process of monitoring an account or set of accounts 24/7 in order to get the most data points as possible- a feat not many humans can pull off! Advanced social media analytics is impossible without some kind of social listening tool like Hootsuite, BuzzSumo, and TweetDeck.

It can be tricky to find the right one, or collection, especially on a budget. I recommend taking a look at what each platform you’re active on has to offer for free. From there, you can determine what additional information you’d like to have, and seek out the tools that can fill the gaps.

Holy Utility, Batman!

A lot of social media management happens from your smartphone. Creating good, engaging, and professional content on the go seems daunting, but phones these days are incredibly capable. These apps will help you work on the go:

Adobe Premiere Cut (iOS and Android) is the go to app for video production for social media. This free app allows you to edit video files on your phone, and the amount of options is very impressive. Soundtrack support, color and lighting touch-ups, and combining clips from multiple sources is all supported. If you plan on doing regular video content in your social media marketing (it is very engaging), this app comes highly recommended.

Datally (Android only) is an app that Google put out that empowers heavy data-plan users to take control of their data usage. A social media manager spends a lot of time on their phone. Unlimited data plans are expensive, and not always an option. Datally makes sure you only use data when you want to, which can help curb overall usage by 30%.

Clips (iOS only) is another video editing app, but this one is of a different breed. It excels at creating cute, short videos that feature graphics, live captions, and animated photos. It’s the perfect app for creating fun videos to share on Instagram. Cute catches the eye on social media, and this tool can definitely help do that.

 

Being a social media manager is a job where you get to wear a lot of hats. Copy editor, statistician, and graphic designer all come into play. It really is a lot of work, and many people who are starting their own business underestimate the time commitment and level of expertise required. That’s totally understandable. Lucky for you, Upswept Creative can help! Our very own Social Media Maven is not only a social media expert, but also an expert at meeting each client where they’re at in terms of budget, time commitment, and experience.

Find out how she can help you and your business today! Reach out and schedule a consultation, on us.


Feb 20 2018

Social Media Trends 2018

One of the biggest challenges of social media is that it’s always changing. Old platforms switch up their interface, lose users, or disappear entirely. New, confusing platforms pop up to fill the gap. Even the old stalwarts go through massive changes over the course of a year (installed the new Snapchat update yet?). Social media is an ever-evolving landscape, and 2018 will be no exception. As a social media marketer, it’s my job to research, anticipate, and prepare for possible trends on the horizon.  Here are the trends I see having an impact on social media marketing in the coming year.

New Tech = New Trends

Technology evolves rapidly, and the tech companies that run social media platforms need to implement and cater to them in order to stay relevant. Digital hangout platforms like Houseparty became hugely popular with young people in 2017. This is a good indicator that larger social media platforms will eventually incorporate some of the key functions of hangout apps into their own platform. Facebook tends to do this by purchasing an up-and-coming app, and folding that app’s functionality into their own system updates.

While new functionality can be intimidating, I think of instances like this as an opportunity. Many brands will be experimenting with new ideas. Nothing is set in stone. Explore the new technologies as they appear, and take the chance to do some experimenting yourself. You may end up setting the standard for how brands use that function to market!

Rearranging Chairs in the Twitterverse

Believe it or not, Twitter is starting to show signs of decline. For the first time, Twitter failed to increase it’s active users for the entire second half of 2017. The first sign of a dying platform is seeing a halt in active user growth. While it won’t happen as fast or be as dramatic as the sinking of the Titanic, this slowdown is worth keeping an eye on in 2018.

We can expect Twitter to throw some curveballs this year, similar to their decision to increase the character count of tweets near the end of last year. They might even try some outlandish things to stay afloat, which will affect existing marketing strategies. Keep an eye out for changes so you, too, can adapt and keep your market efforts effective.

The (Facebook) Sky is Falling!

Facebook Live is an example of a feature from another app folded into the system. Photo by Sticker Mule on Unsplash

One of the most dramatic changes in the social media marketing landscape happened at the end of 2017: Facebook changed the algorithm that determines how a user’s feed is populated. The changes are intended to prioritize posts from family and friends, and reduce “spam” from business pages. While this change has been live since November 2017, social media marketers are still adjusting.

So far, we’ve learned that the new algorithm punishes pages that use “baiting” strategies to boost engagement. This blog post goes into detail on what the algorithm will flag as bait, and how using those strategies will actually hurt the reach and engagement for future posts. As we approach the end of Q1 with these changes, updated strategies that take the new algorithm into account will solidify. Experiment yourself, and pay attention to what other brands in your field are doing differently.

Change is Scary, but We Got This!

The ever-changing landscape of social media makes marketing in these spaces a unique challenge. But if you stay engaged and up-to-date, you will be better prepared to make the necessary adjustments, and keep your online marketing relevant, engaging, and successful.

Of course, your real challenge may simply be that you don’t have enough time to stay on the cutting edge of social media marketing. That’s where we come in. Upswept Creative offers social media management packages designed specifically for each client. We will meet you where you’re at in terms of expertise, budget, and brand voice. Reach out to our Social Media Maven today to schedule your free consultation.


Dec 22 2017

The Balancing Act of Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is unlike any other type of marketing. Facebook, LinkedIn, and all the various platforms provide unique opportunities to build an audience organically, made up of people that are just as psyched about your product/brand/business as you are. These platforms are highly personal. It’s prudent to keep in mind that your posts will be appearing alongside baby pictures, personal anecdotes, and selfies. Finding a tone that fits both your brand message and that context is what good social media marketing is all about.

IDENTIFYING YOUR BRAND MESSAGE

At Upswept Creative, we call this “Finding Your Brand Center.” It is the core aspects of your brand that will help an audience quickly determine what your business is all about. Sarah actually wrote a short workbook that guides you through finding your brand center, which you can download for free.

A core philosophy behind “Finding Your Brand Center” is to imagine your ideal customer or client. Put yourself in their shoes. Which aspects of your business to you need to highlight in order to get noticed?

VARIETY IS THE (SOCIAL) SPICE OF LIFE

Facebook heavily controls how a page’s posts appear in the feeds of its followers. The link you include, the actual text content, the image – literally everything has an affect. Engagement has a huge positive affect. Generally, the more engagement a post generates, the further its reach. Engagement bait, however, is monitored and punished.

Finding a balance between experimenting with tone, and maintaining strong messaging, is tough but can look stunning in the end. Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash

Having variety in the tone and content of your posts is a huge help in finding success. Not only do you get to experiment often, and find what works, but you avoid falling into the pitfall of sameness that plagues a lot of Facebook business pages. Providing a variety of content is more interesting to look at and stay engaged with. The challenge is to experiment with different types of posts while maintaining a consistent brand message.

BE POSITIVE

The world is pretty grim. Social media feeds can often be a minefield of bad news, outrage, and aimless political arguments. Your business presence has an opportunity to cut through the darkness, and all it takes is some positivity. Don’t be afraid of getting a little silly with your posts. This is the internet after all, have fun with it!

Pictures of cute animals, using a popular meme format, or simply a “day-in-the-life” style post of your work day are all good options. Be creative!

FIND THE CENTER

I often think of social media marketing as a balancing act. Striking a tone that is both personal and speaks to the core of your business, experimenting with variety while maintaining strong brand messaging, and staying positive in a sea of negativity are all part of the balancing act. Stay focused by setting goals and measuring your success. Ultimately, though, it’s a lot of work.

Upswept Creative has a resident Social Media Maven, Josselyn, who is an expert in finding the path to success in social media. She’ll create for your business a plan that meets you where you’re at – from comprehensive management, to empowering you to take the reins of your own online marketing. Reach out to us today to schedule your consultation!


Oct 13 2017

SEO Made Easy: Keywords and Permalinks

website design seo portland
SEO work can help you make your website more findable.

Making your website findable is one of the most difficult tasks in creative branding online. To be findable, your website needs to be search engine friendly. This is accomplished with a number of techniques under the banner of SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. If you’re not familiar yet, take a look at my previous post on SEO Basics.

One simple technique is to create user-friendly URLs that permanently link to the different pages of your website. These URLs are ideally custom, short, easy to read, and use keywords that people are likely to search for when searching for your business. They should also be accurate to the information that’s on the page.

Sound like a lot of work?

It’s really not with WordPress. We do love building websites on WordPress, and one of the reasons is how easy it is for users to work with. Changing the URL naming conventions of your website is very straightforward, and making a custom URL for any given page is a breeze. This lets you name important pages of your website based on keywords people might naturally associate with your business. A page’s current permalink is located below the page title on the “Edit Post” page. Changing the naming conventions of every page automatically is found in Settings > Permalink Settings.

The WordPress permalinks setting page. I recommend making your permalinks naming convention after the page title.

 Upswept Creative is a Portland based web design and creative branding company. Someone in need of web design services may use the search terms “website,” “professional,” and “Portland.” So, I commonly include these terms in custom URLs for different pages on our website – blog posts, service descriptions, even the main landing page. The more pages that have these keywords, the higher the search engine ranking will be for those specific terms.

If you need more guidance on where to start, Yoast is a tool that helps make sense of all this keywords business. It’s a WordPress plugin that outlines common  SEO techniques for each of your WordPress pages, and empowers you to take control and make adjustments to your site for better SEO. It allows you to define many different aspects of a page that directly affect how a search engine interacts with your website, like keywords, URL, and meta-description.

Identifying and defining aspects like keywords and meta-descriptions is closely tied to the core of your brand. Finding your brand center is what Upswept Creative specializes in, as well at the practical, nitty-gritty aspects of web design.

If you need some help with your website and SEO, we can help! Schedule your free consultation with us today.


Jul 20 2017

Analytics in Social Media Marketing

We’ve talked about how setting goals and tracking them is super important in planning  an effective social media marketing strategy. But how do you go about that? With analytics, of course! Analytics is simply gathering data and thinking critically about what that data means in context. By using analytics wisely, you can determine whether or not your overall strategy is working, and where tweaks need to be made.

It’s a Numbers Game

Social media offers a ton of data. Seriously, a lot. So much so that it can be overwhelming. This is where your social media goals come in handy. If you know exactly what you want from your social media presence – i.e. increased followership, more website views, lots of people viewing your posts, etc… – you can focus on collecting only the data you need to track those goals.

Establish a baseline by recording the time and date you post. Then, after a consistent amount of time has passed, (the consistency is what’s key here, so you can reasonably compare performance between posts. My rule of thumb is one week) record the data points relative to your goals. Did the post have an affect on your overall followership? What was the overall reach of the post? Over time, you will be able to see your progress, and make tweaks if necessary.

Facebook provides business pages with pretty robust analytics tools. Use them!

Experiment

If you are posting consistently and tracking your goals, but not making any progress, don’t be afraid to change your tack. A tweak in strategy might not lead to direct progress towards your goal right away, but it will give you more information, so your next adjustment has a better chance of succeeding.

Through the course of a social media campaign, I’ll do this kind of experimenting most often with determining the best time to make a post. Making a small change, like scheduling a post for lunchtime instead of the evening, can have a huge impact.

Eyes on the Horizon

In the world of social media marketing, your goals are always changing. You’ve either met your goal and are setting a new one, or you’ve reshuffled your priorities and determined a new course. Paying close attention to how your posts perform, and whether or not they are accomplishing what you want them to, can help strengthen your overall online presence.

 

An analytical approach to social media marketing can be intimidating. We can help you with that! We have several tiers of social media support, from providing a step-by-step outline for you to follow, to full and robust social media management piloted by yours truly. Interested in expert help? Learn more about our social media management services.


Jun 08 2017

Social Media Management 102

A few weeks ago, we talked about some basics of social media marketing. In that post, I went over how to set goals, decide which platforms to use, and urged you to stick to the plan. Now I’d like to get into another aspect of social media marketing that’s just as important… what the heck do you put out there on social media!?

SET YOUR TONE

It’s part of our brand to be a little cute and cheeky, so I’ll often make fun posts like this one.

Deciding on the tone you’d like your social media presence to embody is a fundamental aspect of any online strategy. It’s also one of the most difficult things to nail down. Tone comes across through word choice in your posts and profiles, the actual content of your posts, and how you engage with followers, comments, and private messages.

While the voice you use on social media should be similar to the tone of your website, it shouldn’t be a carbon copy. Social media is social after all. Find a voice that encourages engagement, whether that’s a “like”, comment, or click-through to your website.

A PICTURE IS WORTH 1000… LIKES

Across all social media platforms, posts with pictures get the most attention by far. This blog did an informal study that showed tweets with images garnered 89% more favorites than tweets without images. But you shouldn’t just attach random images. If you can, create or commision your own visual content by taking product pictures, crafting digital graphics, or snapping some thoughtful photos while at a work-relevant event. When using images created by a third party, make sure you have permission!

Giving a peek into the behind the scenes of your business can be very engaging. This is a shot Sarah snapped during a recent photo shoot.

 

The benefit of having in-house visual content is that you can make sure it’s all on brand. It will naturally feel a part of your overall brand identity.

GET THAT GOAL

Social media platforms are fantastic for bringing your brand’s tone and personality to the fore, and getting your name out to a lot of people. They aren’t so great as a place for information dumps, or straight-up advertisements — those fit better on a company website, and something people will be more prone to absorb if they’re already interested. Cast a wide net with your social media presence. Strike a tone that’s personal, use visual content that’s on brand and engaging, and craft content that makes people want to click that link to your website, ticket sale, or product page.

I like to think of a social media presence like a digital storefront, and the overall strategy as the decorations and window displays. The goal is to get as many people in the store (onto your website, online store, etc…) as possible. Once they’re inside, it’s much more likely that you’ll make that sale!

 

At Upswept Creative, we’re a one-stop-shop for branding, web design, and social media marketing. You can get all the elements you need for a successful online presence from our small-but-fierce firm. Check out our variety of service offerings, designed to meet the needs of business owners at different price points. We’re looking forward to chatting with you!


May 11 2017

DWP: Good Design Solves Problems

On April 28th, Upswept Creative hosted a panel discussion at HQ as part of Design Week Portland. What started as a fun idea tossed to the group in one of our team meetings very quickly evolved into a fully realized, (and totally booked!) event. Creative Director and Benevolent Overlord Sarah had been thinking a lot about design, and what makes good design really work. So we assembled a diverse set of design professionals for our panel and happy hour, to help us explore the topic, “Good Design Solves Problems.

Our hope was to represent perspectives on design from multiple design disciplines, so  panel consisted of Design Scientist and Innovative Strategist Stef Koehler, Architectural Designer Callie Coles, Apparel Designer and Founder of Hubris Apparel Rita Hudson-Evalt, and Upswept Creative’s very own Sarah Giffrow, who specializes in website design and branding.

THE DISCUSSION

 

Design Week Portland panel
Our wonderful panel, from right to left: Stef Koehler, Rita Hudson-Evalt, Callies Coles, Sarah Griffrow, and the moderator, Josselyn Haldeman.

The panel dove right in, addressing the question at hand. How does good design solve problems? Kohler spoke on her practice of making the problem bigger, “see all the parts,” she said. “Look at it as a system. Don’t make it simple, complexify it.”

A major piece of creating beautiful, problem-solving design is finding out exactly what a client’s problems are–and that can often be tricky. The panel agreed that most clients don’t have the language to communicate exactly what they want, and that means it’s a designer’s job to pull it out of them. “The client may not know what the problem is. Get ahead of the problem…Make the dress that lets them feel like themselves,” said Hudson-Evalt.

Sarah chimed in with an approach all of the panelists could agree with: communicate with your client. “Have a conversation. Engage with the client to pull answers out.”

As an architectural designer, Coles described how she will go into a space to observe how people use it. When do people start looking confused? Where do they look for direction? “[There is] no substitute for observing what people do real space,” said Coles.

“[Create a] balance between ‘brand’ and what the user actually wants to get to. First impressions- big photos, catchy phrases- can get in the way of finding the pie or buying the shoes. What is the interaction the end-user wants?” said Giffrow.

Design Week Portland nametags
Professional name tags. So fancy!

This touched on a major theme of the evening, empathy. To get inside the end user’s head, a designer has to be empathetic to that experience. Hudson-Evalt suggested, “Talk to people constantly, what they need from the dress/what they want. Realizing themselves in the mirror.”

UNTIL NEXT TIME

Team Upswept Creative had such a blast putting on the event, and we hope everybody who came out enjoyed themselves, too. Thank you to all of the panelists, Design Week Portland, and our lovely audience for braving the heat to make it out to our little event.


Apr 27 2017

Cherry City: A Case Study in Design Work

Working in web design can be a complicated process. A lot of creative decisions need to be made while working under a deadline, and within a budget.  Both functionality and the client’s needs have to take  priority, all while looking prettier than the previous iteration. So how do the pros do it? We’d like to give you an example from a recent web design project we completed for Salem, Oregon’s roller derby league, Cherry City Roller Derby.

STARTING OUT

Cherry City came to us with an outdated website, in terms of both content and design. The platform on which their site was built made it difficult for league leadership to post updates. Key information for a roller derby league would get buried in the design. Upcoming events like fundraisers, bouts, and recruitments  were hard to find. League sponsors were also not prominently featured, making sponsorship a less attractive prospect. That can be a big problem for a non-profit!

ROLLIN’ UP OUR SLEEVES

We knew we wanted to build the site on WordPress. This would be a big usability upgrade for Cherry City, and would help them keep  the site’s content fresh and up-to-date. But, we also had to consider how to organize the content in a more beautiful and less confusing way.  Upcoming events needed to be easily accessible, and presented in a consistent visual format.

All of the important elements, front and center on the first page.

We drew on our experience working with Portland’s roller derby league, Rose City Rollers, to find approaches that we knew worked with this kind of content. We knew that public bouts needed to be at the forefront of their online presence, so we made their games the star of the show. But, Cherry City also puts emphasis on recruiting, and makes a special effort to be a welcoming league that keeps its members and volunteers engaged, so we created space in their Events area to highlight Recruitment events as well.
Keeping track of Sponsors at different levels would be important to growing their sponsorship base. We also knew that the same individuals could be involved with multiple teams or committees. We created structures for both Sponsors and Team Members, so Cherry City could easily manage those details all in one easy-to-find place, instead of updating multiple pages.

THERE AND BACK AGAIN

Make sure your site works on mobile, too.

To get the visual and functional improvements we were all looking for, we communicated regularly with Cherry City’s all-volunteer Board of Directors about our design inspirations. We shared with them our wireframes and graphic mock ups, ensuring that we were persisting in the right direction on the project.
After many rounds of feedback, and all of our tweaks made, we were happy to launch their brand new website near the beginning of April!  Their league leadership is quickly gaining comfort with the new structure we’ve built, and they’ll be able to keep their fans, future skaters and volunteers, and sponsors engaged with ease.


Mar 30 2017

Social Media Management 101

Online marketing is so widespread, it’s hard to imagine a business today without some kind of presence on social media. But how do you even get started? It can be a lot to tackle. What is a good social media strategy? How do you manage posts across platforms? What does success even look like? This post will bring you through these basics of social media marketing.

A GOAL WITHOUT A PLAN IS JUST A WISH

The first step in any cohesive social media strategy is to formulate a plan. Start by asking yourself, “what do I want my online presence to accomplish?” At first, you might simply want  to increase followership across platforms, getting your other brand assets in front of as many eyes as possible. Another goal could be to increasing website traffic, which is a good goal for online retailers. These goals will form the basis for the rest of your social media strategy, so feel free to take some time, do some research, and really think about what you want out of a social media presence.

PUZZLING PLATFORMS

There are so many social media platforms to choose from!

Once you’ve set your goals, you can identify the platforms your company should be active on. Facebook is a pretty universal option, but it doesn’t always need to be your main focus. I Growing a presence on LinkedIn could be valuable, if you run a business-to-business operation. Instagram is ideal for visual-heavy businesses, like fashion designers or photographers. Twitter allows you to quickly reach an audience and link to out-of-platform content like a blog, or ticket sales site. Crossover content between platforms is ok, but it’s important to take into consideration these strengths and weaknesses when creating content.

CONSISTENCY IS QUEEN

Now that you know your active platforms, you can start drafting content. Posting regularly is the most important thing, so be sure to come up with a posting schedule you can actually stick to. A consistent stream of content, even if it’s just three posts a week, shows people that your business is active. You can also use social media tools like Hootsuite, which allow you to schedule multiple posts at once, to help you manage multiple platforms.

STICK TO THE PLAN

One of the most difficult aspects of social media marketing is determining success, but you’ll never be sure if you’re succeeding if you change tactics too often. It takes time to grow a strong social media presence, so practice patience. Use the built-in analytics tools most social media platforms provide, and keep track of your goals as the weeks go on. Experimenting with different types of content, posting schedules, and platforms is all great, but make sure to give each plan enough time to see if it’ll catch.

If this all sounds like a lot of work, you’re right! Many small-business owners get overwhelmed by the nitty-gritty details of ongoing social-media management. It’s ok if you’d rather spend your time on other aspects of your business! Upswept Creative has our very own Online Marketing Maven in Josselyn Haldeman, who will allow you to do just that. If you’re interested in her services, be sure to say so when you reach out.


Feb 17 2017

Climb the Google Ranks with SEO

WHAT IS SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s the practice of building your website in a way that makes it easier for a search engine to find it, and give it a high-ranking in search results. Think of it as improving your website’s communication with search engines. I’m not going to lie, implementing good SEO can be technical and tedious. That’s why I’ve written this simple guide for some SEO basics. Besides, good SEO principles overlap with qualities of a user-friendly website.

PAGE TITLES

Most search engines utilize tools that transpose key information from your web page into readable, user-friendly search engine results. For example, a page’s title tag will often appear in the first line of a result if the content matches the user’s inquiry. This is a great place to have additional information about your business. Try to think of what someone might search online when looking for a service or product you provide. This might include the name of your business, a quick summary of what your company does, or some services you offer.

 

 

EASY URLS

A good URL often means one that a human being can easily recite from memory without confusing anyone. Most people keep this in mind when choosing their URL, but page titles are just as important! URLs are included in search results, so you have another opportunity to include relevant terms people searching out your business might search.

Many web hosts make this easy to achieve by letting users define static URLs for individual pages. In WordPress, for example, you can find this feature by logging in as an Admin, navigating to Settings > Permalinks. This will display your options for how to structure your website’s URLs.

GOOD CONTENT

It seems obvious, but having good content on your website is an essential first in enticing the right people to visit. Everything else I’ve talked about in this guide won’t be as successful as it could be if your web content falls flat. Make sure your subject matter is directly related to your business and brand goals, and use good web-design principles. Now that’s good content!

Good design is what Upswept Creative does. We’re offering a new packages, all centered around helping you build your brand with elegant design:

  • Brand Essence to design your perfect look and authentic brand message
  • Online Smarts to infuse your online presence with beautiful branding
  • Empire Builder to tailor your web site to YOUR specific goals, so you can step up your business game!