Feb 20 2019

How to Simplify Your Social Media

Social media has done wonders for connection and exposure. It is easier than ever to reach out to folks you don’t know and stay in touch with those you do, and its ubiquity makes it an accessible tool to promote yourself and your business. Unlike you or your business, however, the threads of the world wide web never disconnect to rest. It’s easy to become overly attached to online happenings, and to neglect keeping a healthy distance from them. How does one balance the necessity of a social media presence with some semblance of sanity?

Choose Your “Why” Purposefully

Social media is, first and foremost, a set of digital tools. Just like a hammer has its purpose, so do all the websites and applications at your fingertips. Make sure you have clarity about your online purpose before establishing your platforms, to help keep you on task.

Let Authenticity Clear The Path

Once you’ve ironed out your “why,” the next step is dialing in how you’ll present yourself. I mentioned finding your authentic voice when discussing content overwhelm in our newsletter (hit us up here if you’re not already a subscriber). Authenticity is key to keeping your messaging and design focused and clear. When your message is clear, the means by which you share it stays clear as well. Focus time and energy on the appropriate platform(s) instead of spreading yourself thin on every one.

An aside, of sorts: specificity in your messaging can also bolster your confidence in what you deliver, and lessen (if not eliminate) the urge to compare yourself with others. The vast reach of the internet nearly guarantees your customers and peers are out there somewhere. Give them the real you, and they’ll find you!

Focus on What Fits Your Business

This leads right into my next suggestion: limit your platforms. You might have recoiled at that suggestion. Isn’t it better to be everywhere? Not necessarily. Each platform has its pros and cons; focus your attention on the ones that fits your business best. Keeping your presence simple and straightforward also keeps your stress level low.

Another way to keep stress at a minimum is with assistance. Social media management apps give you more bang for your proverbial buck by allowing you to collect and schedule your content in one place, even allowing you to share content across platforms. Having everything in one place saves both time and sanity. Like the platforms themselves, each app has pluses and minuses; we’re happy to discuss what apps can work best for you.

Set Boundaries… and Stick to Them

When it comes to your business presence, consider keeping your social media time within business hours. Yes, the internet never sleeps… but you need to! Just as you schedule time for meetings and events, consider scheduling time to follow and respond on social media. You might allot a large block of time (say, one hour), or schedule smaller check-ins throughout your work day. You can further loosen the web’s tug by turning off notifications, eliminating distractions and breaking the habit of immediate response.

Another swell aspect of scheduling your social media time: it frees you up to create! Do you tend to scroll mindlessly when you really should be dialed into your work? (It’s okay to admit it — I definitely distracted myself with Instagram and the NBA app at least three times while writing this post!) Note the places of resistance when it’s time to put nose to grindstone, and notice if you sabotage your own efforts with distractions.

Your social media should reflect who you are and what your business has to offer, but it doesn’t need to run (or ruin) your life. If you could use an assist in finding that perfect balance online, reach out and let’s talk (IRL even!).  

 


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!


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!


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 19 2015

Brand Exposure, The Old-Fashioned Way

Are you a small Portland business, a local start-up, a one woman (or man) band with an innovative product or a new idea? You’re not alone! Learn how to get your brand noticed the old fashioned way!

The outset is familiar: Many of us who own and run small businesses are looking to connect with others and tell our story in order to solidify our brand, broaden our reach, and gain new customers. But, even if you have a great website, a killer social media presence, a professional headshot and some really neat business cards (ideally designed by us),  sometimes you need to branch out a little in order to reach new customers and clients. Sometimes – heaven forbid – we need to get out of the office into the fray! Here are some fresh new ideas to help you get connected – outside of the walls that are your studio, your home office, or your production site.

1.) Meet the competition

portland-rebranding-agency_build-brand-know-yourself
Don’t be afraid to seek out others who share your dream! Healthy competition can motivate you to improve and stand out.

Regardless of whether you run a niche business or have a unique take on something, there are like-minded people who work in your field – even if their approach is different. Some may be way ahead of you on their path, others might be starting out. Competition does not have to be a your bad thing, but can instead inspire you to work smarter, learn new skills, and identify both the strengths and weaknesses of your brand and your business. Check out a trade show if one exists for your area, stop by some boutiques in a different part of town or in a different city, check out the web and design projects other people have been working on. The key here is to be confident in your own abilities and not too easily discouraged, you are not there to compare, but to identify! Take notes on what you like and what you dislike as you evaluate others work – understanding yourself is the key to building an authentic brand that represents you well and connects with others. Let others know who you are and what you are working on – a great opportunity to collaborate may present itself.

2.) Connect with your personal interests

It’s not all business, nor should it be. For many of us, our motivations stem from a personal passion, interest, or identity! Being part of a community that considers you an insider will make it easier for you to approach and be approached for work. Upswept is closely connected to Roller Derby and local fashion producers – its no wonder people know us from these communities and solicit us for work based on our involvement! This can happen for you, too – make sure your communities, whatever they may be, know about your brand and your business. This can be through contributing to message board or website dedicated to certain interest, or attending conferences, events, and summits for like-minded folks. On that note: I’m super stoked to be attending the Lesbians Who Tech Summit in San Francisco this year, in fact I’ll be live blogging it while I’m there from the 26th-1st!

Connecting with the communities you are involved in can help your brand get noticed.
Connecting with the communities you are involved in can help your brand get noticed.

3.) Give back to get more

Another way to get yourself out there, to meet new people and get more attention on your brand is to consider giving back. In December of last year, I posted about how organizing a fundraiser can help generate new buzz for your business – a great example is our own Bowlful of Heart Pet Food Drive. There are many other ways to give back and strengthen your brand. You can volunteer for a local cause or event. Sponsoring a cause or sports team that resonates with you is another great option. (Upswept Creative is excited to be sponsoring the Portland Roller Derby team the High Rollers this year!), or offer your products as prizes for a benefit or fundraisers. People will be more likely to recognize you and your brand if they connect you to a positive experience! Be sure to promote your efforts on your blog and social media!

How have you been able to connect with new customers and clients in the past? If you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share, please let us know!


Dec 04 2014

Making 2015 Awesome – Reboot your social!

Welcome to December – and happy (almost) New Year from us at Upswept Creative! Whether you’ll be spending your the holidays at home or out on the town, the move from 2014 to 2015 is the perfect opportunity to breathe new life into your brand’s online presence and social media.

From making the most of your social media to stoking the fire under your online sales, now is the time to dust things off! Every week in December, we’ll showcase a new aspect of keeping your brand fresh and alive in 2015. This first week, we’ll show you some tips and tricks to get your social networks revving during the holiday season and new year.

1.) It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – all over the internet.

Google are not the only people to change their “doodles” for special events and seasons. Many websites change up their icons, colours, or headers to make things look seasonally appropriate, or just to provide some visual stimulus and keep things looking fresh.

Consider updating your Facebook cover image or profile picture, Twitter background or YouTube channel art with something fun, whimsical, and holiday-related. This is a great opportunity to do something humorous and a little different than your usual styling. Do you have some fun holiday-themed infographic you’ve been dying to create? Let us do it for you! Now is the time.

flyer_11x17_2014
Connecting to your audience while supporting others feels good and does good for your business.

 

2.) Tis’ the Season… to be giving!

Thanksgiving may be over, but that doesn’t mean that it’s too late to show your feel connected. As the weather gets colder and resources wear thin, many people struggle to make ends meet. Do you have cause you feel especially passionate about? (For us, it’s our Bowlful of Heart pet food drive!)

Combine it with your social media, and get two for the price of one. Some examples include donating food to a charity for every Like you receive on Facebook, organizing a toy drive and then tweeting about it, teaming up with others to do a charity event of some kind, or even just collecting gift cards to donate to charities at your Christmas event. Be sure to mention on social what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and how people can support you reach your goals!

3.) Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s are particularly photogenic times of the year.

Leaves, snow and ice, lights, candles, gifts, meals, ugly sweaters, fireworks…the perfect time to take some photos of your business, or even set up an Instagram contest. Get your followers to tag you in their holiday photos, compile a jury or judge the entries yourself, and reward the best photos with some prizes of your choice. You can even combine a photo contest with some charitable giving – the best photos could be rewarded with a donation to the winner’s favourite cause.

If Instagram is not part of your business repertoire, you can tweak the holiday competition idea to work on Facebook or Twitter. Asking your audience to participate, by sharing stories, tips, recipes and gift ideas helps create the sense of community and buy-in that strengthens your social media presence.

4.) Take advantage of the end of the year’s atmosphere of renewal to launch a new product line, pricing strategy, package deal or service.

portland-food-photographer_chocolate-fest-naked-winery-wild-roots
Take advantage of this festive time of year.

Create some buzz around these new offerings by talking about them on social media first, before you create a big reveal on your website! Create a special sale, a coupon, or limited-time only deal, and make sure your social networks know about them.

Do you have any ideas about how to make your brand shine on social this time of year? Are you thinking you could use some handy internet elves to help out with whimsical Facebook headers, Christmasifying your blog, or running an Instagram contest featuring dogs in sweaters? Get in touch, we’re here for you!


Sep 29 2014

Ello and How to Make Your Web Site Experience Easier

“This UI is bonkers. I tried to post an image…it was not successful.”

“I know this is beta, but it seems really clunky.”

“I can’t find anything on this thing!”

If you’ve been on Ello, you’ve probably noticed that, well, it’s not exactly easy to find things. We’re not talking about obscure user settings, either–we’re talking about functions that are vital to the site, like uploading images, posting, and editing. And, hey, let’s be real: if someone visits your web site and can’t find what they’re looking for, your web site is not doing its job

How can you fix that? There are a few simple things that you can do to make your user’s experience easier to bear, so your web site can build that effective connection with each person who visits you.

Ello user interface web site designContrast, Contrast, Contrast.

Part of the problem with the Ello interface is Contrast: the colors of different elements don’t pop enough against the background. Important function buttons are light-grey on a white background, which makes them hard to find, because your eyes are getting pulled towards the darker icons and text. How long will it take for your average user to get frustrated, when they can’t easily find the button they need?

For important things on your web site, like vital information, frequently-used links, or Calls to Action, you’ll want to have good contrast to make sure they don’t get lost. We’re not saying you should bust out the day-glo green, or anything, but wise use of light-on-dark or dark-on-light can get you a long way.

Icons: What’s That Shape Mean, Anyway?

The icon trend has been on the rise in web site interfaces since well before Ello hit the Intertubes, but they weren’t shy about jumping on that wagon. The problem is, while certain icons are fairly universal–or at least easy enough to figure out–others are, well, a tad confusing. Would you have guessed that the (+) icon would mean, “Invite,” before you hovered over it?

This principle goes back decades in web site building: don’t make your web site user think. “Mystery meat” links and icons can be confusing, and nobody likes to go in guessing. It should be easy for your visitors to figure out what different links and buttons lead to. If it isn’t? You risk losing their attention, and their business.

There’s More Than One Way

One of my bigger beefs with the Ello interface is photo uploading: for using images in posts, there’s an upload button, but to change your Profile photo or Header photo, you’re forced to drag-and-drop the image you want. In fact, they have to specifically instruct you (on hover, of course) to drag-and-drop. If you don’t hover over that profile photo, you’ll never know what to do.

Not only is it dreadfully inconsistent, but it’s also not terribly intuitive. And, seriously, who forces Drag-and-Drop as the only option for a photo upload?

Not everyone is going to engage with your web site in the same way. Different people use different devices, and they’ll flow through your content in different ways. We don’t expect you to go out of your way to serve absolutely every stone-age 1990s refugee desktop PC in the world, but an extra option or a bit of adaptability can go a long way towards helping your viewer find what they need, so they can take advantage of what you’re offering them.

Small Changes, Big Impact.

The temptation to get super-slick with your web site can be hard to resist, but the best answer to making your web site more effective is often the simplest one. Small changes can make a huge difference in how people interact with your web site, how they respond to what you have to offer, and whether or not they contact you or get interested in your product.

Your web site’s mission is to make the most important parts of your brand and your business easy to find and to learn about. Don’t get so caught up in style that you lose out on connection.

Portland branding agency – Portland web design – Upswept Creative