Saturday, 22 July 2017

How to Quickly Create Attention-Grabbing Social Media Images in 3 Simple Steps

Social media – it’s not just a B2C marketer thing. It should come as no surprise that 83 percent of B2B marketers today use social media content. Marketers say they see more exposure, increased website traffic, and more loyal fan bases thanks to social media.


Another fact – 74 percent of marketers are using visuals as part of their social media marketing efforts. It’s not surprising – most people claim to be visual learners after all, so a well-placed cat meme seems to go a long way.


But feeding the never-ending demand for content can appear impossible for resource-strapped teams. Dedicating precious design resources to a what can feel like less significant piece of content than say, your pillar white paper or guide for a quarter, can seem silly.


That’s why it can be easy for an overwhelmed marketer to throw their hands up and claim a post to be good enough without an image.


It’s a huge missed opportunity and can actually be addressed without a ton of heavy lifting.


A proliferation of design-it-yourself tools for content marketers makes the process easier and simpler than you might have imagined to create simple, engaging, on-brand visuals to support each and every social media media post you publish, without having any graphic design chops.


It’s as simple as three steps:


  1. Find the right image.

  2. Craft action-oriented language for CTAs.

  3. Build your image in a DIY tool.

Find the Right Image


Finding imagery or stock photos that align with your social media posts doesn’t necessitate thousands of dollars in credits to purchase stock images. There’s been an explosion in recent years of sites offering free-to-use photos (like Pexels or Unsplash). You simply enter a search term and then find the image that makes the most sense for the post you’re creating.


Best practices include picking images that:


  • Are not a direct contrast to your brand personality or aesthetic

  • Are thematically linked to your social media post

  • Have negative space if you plan on adding text

Let’s walk through an example. I want to create a Twitter post to help promote one of our recent blog posts, 101 Ridiculously Effective Ways to Use Interactive Content in Your Marketing Today. On the Pexels site, I search for “ideas” and come up with a bunch of good, relevant photo options.


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I opt for this one, as it’s in line with many of the images we use as part of the SnapApp brand and it speaks directly to the theme of idea generation. I also know I’ll want to add text to it for the CTA, so I think the space on the left side of the image gives me some room for that.


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Craft Action-oriented Language for CTAs


While finding the right image is a good start, if you want to drive your followers to engage with your content, creating action-oriented, interesting CTAs as part of you images can drive up click throughs. After all, it means your followers know exactly what to expect when they click, so they will be more encouraged to engage.


Tell users what they get.


Clearly indicate what the value is for your followers in clicking through – why should they bother clicking? What’s the point? Is it some unique insight? A prize? Valuable content? Something else? Be clear in your CTAs and always answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”


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The “get” for those who click here is very clear: $100.


Think action when crafting CTAs.


Are you more likely to “read more” or “take a quiz”? Action-oriented verbs tend to drive more clicks, particularly on social.


Beyond just the language, it’s also important to think carefully the type of content you are pushing through your social media channels – is it all static white papers you want people to download? Are you using assets that are truly engaging?


More and more companies are seeing success on social media using engaging, interactive content on social media – think quick polls, quizzes, surveys – vs. traditional, long-form content. The short-form, highly engaging nature of social media lends itself well to these types of content, and provide an easy entry point into more in-depth pieces (like a three question quiz as a precursor to a longer PDF guide).


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ServiceNow uses a short assessment to engage followers on Twitter.


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We give our followers the chance to find out what GoT house they belong to with our short quiz.


Create a sense of urgency.


No one wants to be left out of a great opportunity. Take advantage of people’s sense of FOMO by using time-oriented language like “Don’t miss out!” or “Only two days left!” Limited time frames can be very effective in driving interest.


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Noting a timeline can encourage followers to click through.


For my example post, I’ve come up with this language: 101 Interactive Ideas to Fuel Your Content Calendar: Generate Ideas Now!. I’ve picked this because:


  1. It’s action-oriented (generate an idea)

  2. The “get” is very clear (your next idea)

  3. There’s a timeliness to it (do it now)

Build Your Image in a DIY Tool


Now that you have your image picked out and your copy drafted, it’s time to put it together. There are a few great DIY tools out there, but one that the SnapApp content team tends to go back to time and time again is Canva.


With an easy to use interface, even the most hopeless non-designers can put together something simple and effective in very little time.


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To get started with Canva, you simply choose the dimensions you’d like for your design based on output type, or you can input custom dimensions. For my example, I’ve chosen Twitter Post, which Canva makes even easier by having a template that follows Twitter best practices.


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From here, Canva is pretty easy to navigate. It comes with a variety of pre-created templates for layout, images, icons, and more. While it can be tempting to use some of these, we recommend sticking with your brand colors, images, and fonts where possible, to keep things consistent.


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I’ve uploaded my stock photo to the platform. With just a bit of pulling on the boundary anchors, I easily resize the image to fit the template, being careful to preserve that open space on the left I want for the CTA text.


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I can pop in a shape to hold my text, to make it really pop against the background.


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Canva also makes it simple to stick to your brand guidelines. Here I’m testing one of the pinks in SnapApp’s color palette, simply plugging in the hex code from our style guide.


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Now I can dd in a text box and play with fonts, sizes, and colors.
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I end up here. I’ve decided to incorporate some of our blue, and use the pink as part of a pseudo “button” for followers to click. I also made the background image a bit more transparent, so the text and colors pop even more.


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The final touch? Adding the SnapApp logo to the corner. Always be consistent!


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And voila – an image ready for Twitter, all in less than 10 minutes.


When using Canva or other tools for DIY images, keep in mind the following best practices:


  1. Use the right size images for the platform.

  2. Take advantage of negative space for text.

  3. Use your brand style guidelines – fonts, colors, etc.

  4. Don’t rely on pre made templates, make them your own.

  5. Be consistent and keep you images recognizable as your brand’s across platforms.

Creating images to support your social media marketing efforts doesn’t have to be terribly time consuming, but is extremely important. Explore some of the great DIY tools out there to make your work easier.



Source: B2C

Chester Bennington And Chris Cornell Murdered To Cover Up A Pedophile Ring Is Fake News

Wikimedia Commons


Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell murdered because they were about to reveal a ring of pedophiles is fake news. There is no truth to a report that the deceased singers from Linkin Park and Sound Garden respectively were murdered because they were about to expose a list of pedophiles.


Bennington recently died by suicide after battling drug and alcohol problems. In May, Cornell took his own life. Bennington died on what would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday.


Now, where did this fake news story about a possible murder of the two musicians originate? YourNewsWire published the story on July 21, 2017, reporting that Bennington had been murdered in similar fashion to his friend, Cornell, who died one month earlier.


Rumors that their deaths were connected to possible more criminal reasons were falsely suggested YourNewsWire which published the headline falsely proclaiming “Police: Chester Bennington Was Murdered.” YourNewsWire cited a “police source” to assert that authorities were currently investigating Bennington’s death as a homicide. However, there is no truth to the matter.


Detectives are looking into whether Chester Bennington was murdered, with the death scene later arranged to resemble a suicide. They have put a team of investigators in place and are refusing to rule out a criminal homicide charge.


“Murders are sometimes made to look like suicides. We think he was murdered, we just have to find out who was behind it,” said a police source.


Snopes reported that law enforcement told them that they have not stated Bennington was murdered. The above quote also does not appear in any credible story published anywhere else with a major media news outlet. Here are some examples of people talking about the fake news on social media.












In the fake story, YourNewsWire also quoted Randy Cody, a person they described as an “investigator”:


Detroit police wrapped up their investigations quickly and the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death a suicide, but investigators are claiming that unexplained gaps in the official timeline of Cornell’s final moments and suspicious inconsistencies in the records suggest that Cornell’s death was not suicide at all, but a premeditated homicide and cover up.


Investigator Randy Cody is among those questioning the suicide ruling. He points to perceived timeline gaps, forensic questions and what he says are two signs that Cornell had a head wound that was not mentioned in autopsy reports.


Snopes reported that Cody is a blogger who runs The Metal Den web site, where he has published various theories to prove Cornell was murdered. Cody’s allegations were noted in a Detroit News story about theories surrounding the singer’s death by fans unsatisfied with the suicide ruling. In was from that story where YourNewsWire apparently lifted this information from for their fake story.


In a May 22, 2017 post, Cody claimed Cornell was murdered because he was about to expose pedophiles involved in PizzaGate, which is a debunked conspiracy theory claiming that a child sex trafficking ring linked to Hillary Clinton was being run out of Comet Ping Pong, a Washington, D.C., pizzeria.


There is no evidence being offered by YourNewsWire to link Bennington to the non-existent PizzaGate conspiracy other than a circumstantial reference to a revelation he made that he had been molested when he was a child. YourNewsWire is not a reliable source of information.


What did you think of the fake news that the two singers were murdered in order to cover up a pedophile sex ring? Did you believe it or see people sharing it falsely on social media? Are you disgusted by this fake news? Let us know in the comments section.


Photo credit: Gansb, Wikimedia Commons



Source: B2C

MCU and DCEU Pioneers Who Shaped a Decade of Cinema

When thinking of the DC and Marvel Cinematic Universes, many people associate a few key pioneers with their success. Whether it be an actor, director, or a top executive within the production company, each of these people have had a very integral part in the commencement and success of these universes. ComiConverse contributor, Joseph Gioeli, analyzes how these important individuals improved and expanded their respective universes.


MCU


When the MCU is mentioned, often it is immediately associated with one of it’s first pioneers, Robert Downey Jr. and his iconic role as Tony Stark/Iron Man. Downey Jr. has brought this genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist to life on nearly 10 different occasions over almost a decade of films. His portrayal of Tony Stark was almost universally loved when he debuted in 2008, and is still popular to this day. In 2008, with the directorial guidance of Jon Favreau, Iron Man was brought to the silver screen and the MCU was born. RDJ’s Stark has been the centerpiece of the MCU since 2008, but after the second Infinity War film, his tenure of donning the metal suit will come to an end and according to President of Marvel Production, Kevin Feige, the MCU after Phase 3 – post-Captain Marvel (2019) – will look “drastically different.”



Credit: Marvel Studios


Feige is another MCU pioneer and while he has had a credit on every single Marvel film since 2000, he has been a producer on every film within the MCU since its inception. One of the things that Feige is credited with is planning the course of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He claims that Marvel knew they wanted their big conclusion to this chunk of time to be as many characters as possible fighting Thanos, which has been hinted at since 2012 and will come to a head in Avengers: Infinity War as the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, Spider-Man, and Doctor Strange come together in an epic two-part team film over two years.



Credi: Marvel Studios


The third, and often most under-appreciated pioneer of the MCU is Jon Favreau. Favreau directed the first film in the MCU, Iron Man (2008) as well as its less-loved sequel, Iron Man 2 (2010). He has also been a producer on all three Iron Man films and both Avengers movies. Favreau is also the reason that Robert Downey Jr. played Tony Stark. According to him, Favreau had to fight “tooth and nail” to get RDJ the role, and in the end, I think every fan can agree that we owe Favreau a debt of thanks.



Credit: Marvel Studios


DCEU


Some fans, and most critics, do not like many of the films the DCEU has put out recently. If there is one thing even the most bitter of fans can agree on, it’s that their films are very true to the panels of their comic books. This is due to two of the DCEU pioneers; Geoff Johns and Zack Snyder.


Geoff Johns was a highly acclaimed comic book writer for DC, winning the Wizard Fan Award for Writer of the Year in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 as well as the CBG Writer of the Year in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008. He has written some of the best stories in DC history starring heroes such as Superman, Green Lantern, Flash, Teen Titans and Justice Society of America. Johns has since become the Chief Creative Officer for DC Entertainment.



Credit: DC Entertainment


The other founding trailblazer for the DCEU, and perhaps the one with the most conflicting fan base, is Zack Snyder. Before his reign as “DCEU Director Supreme”, Snyder was behind the camera for popular films such as 300 (2006), Watchmen (2009), and Sucker Punch (2011). All of these films had a very distinct feel, including stylized action, heavy CGI and epic slow motion scenes. His DCEU reign includes the first film, Man of Steel (2013), the borderline disastrous Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and most of the soon-to-be-released Justice League (2017). Many critics were not overly excited about the first two DCEU films of Snyder’s, but faithful DC fans have sworn by both of those films as being some of the best in the last decade. Love him or hate him, most fans can agree on one thing about Zack Snyder; his love and passion for comic books is unrivaled in the directing world, and because of that, he has made some of the most comic-accurate films ever.



Credit: DC Entertainment


The third DCEU pioneer is Gal Gadot. Most moviegoers who saw Batman vs Superman agree that the best part of the film was Gal Gadot’s role as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. Godot delivered again starring in the critically praised Wonder Woman (2017), which broke several box office records as well as receiving one of the best Rotten Tomatoes score of any comic book film with a 92%. This film was also historic in that it was the first comic book movie to have a female play the lead role as well as the first directed by a woman.



Credit: DC Entertainment


Without these six people, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe might still, but they would not be anywhere close to what they are today.


Do you agree? Was there someone more important to these Cinematic Universes that we may have missed? Let us know in the comments below!


Joseph Gioeli is an Expert ComiConverse Contributor. Follow him on Twitter: @joegioeli


The post MCU and DCEU Pioneers Who Shaped a Decade of Cinema appeared first on ComiConverse.



Source: B2C

Royal Caribbean’s M.S. ‘Allure’ Sinks Carnival Cruise Crossing Into Disputed Waters Is Satire


A Royal Caribbean vessel firing upon and sinking a Carnival Cruise liner in “disputed waters” on the high seas is fake news. Rather, a satirical site published an article reporting on the rivalry between Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise lines. However, that satirical piece was mistaken for real news by some readers on social media. Where did this satire originate?


The Onion published the article on July 20, 2017, reporting to claim that thousands of passengers died in a “clash” between two cruise ships in the waters off the Bahamas. You can read the fake news below.


COCO CAY, BAHAMAS—In the latest clash between rivals that have long vied for control of highly prized cruise routes, a barrage of cannon fire from Royal Caribbean’s M.S. Allure of the Seas sank a Carnival Cruise Line ship that crossed into disputed waters off the coast of the Bahamas, sources said Thursday.


The Allure, an Oasis-class recreational vessel with a standing crew of around 2,300, opened fire on Carnival’s M.S. Magic after it allegedly ignored repeated warnings not to approach Coco Cay, a private island owned by Royal Caribbean. After sustaining several direct hits, the enemy ship’s hull reportedly ruptured, immediately flooding its bingo hall and spa with seawater, collapsing several theme restaurants, and ultimately killing all 3,675 guests on board.


However, there is no truth to the above story. The Onion is famously known for its humorous satire. Here are some reactions to the satirical piece on social media.










Although The Onion was well-known as a satirical outlet, not all readers were in on the joke:


Report from “the Onion” (7/20/17) states the Royal Caribbean Cruise ship, Allure of the Seas, had attacked and sunk the Carnival Magic Cruise ship, killing all on board (over 3,400 people) in the waters of Coco Cay. It would be appreciated if you could validate or disprove this report. Thanks for your time and research into this report. ;-)


After the satire piece was published, Royal Caribbean, one of the cruise operators named in it, tweeted out the story to make it perfectly clear that the piece was humor based.




Royal Caribbean is an American global cruise company incorporated in Liberia and based in Miami, Fla. As of March 2009, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. fully owns three cruise lines: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Azamara Club Cruises. Carnival Cruise is the world’s largest cruise line based in Miami in the United States. It is a subsidiary of the American-British company Carnival Corporation & PLC, one of the largest travel and tourism companies in the world.


What did you think of people confusing the fake news from the Onion? Did you believe it or see people sharing it falsely on social media? Let us know in the comments section.



Source: B2C

Robert Kirkman Confirming The Walking Dead’s End Date At San Diego Comic-Con Is Fake News

walkingdead


Robert Kirkman is working toward the end of The Walking Dead comic series. However, the creator did not confirm the comic’s end during The Walking Dead panel at San Diego Comic-Con. Rather, Kirkman stated that he has an ending in mind and is currently working toward it in the comics.


Kirkman has yet to give a specific end date for the comic series after its 14-year span.


As reported by A.V. Club, Kirkman said, “I think about two or three years ago, I had a pretty good idea for a definitive ending. I have known that since then and been working towards that, so I know exactly where I’m going and what’s going to happen when I get there.”


However, there was some confusion over whether Kirkman said that he was ending the popular comic. An earlier headline from A.V. Club suggested that Kirkman was ending the series. However, The Walking Dead creator took to Twitter to clarify on comments made at San Diego Comic-Con.


Kirkman said, “I am NOT ending The Walking Dead comic. I simply said I know how it ends. Don’t fall for click bait articles. #shameonyouAVclub”




Kirkman also mentioned that he thought about ending the series earlier but decided against it because,


“I had all kinds of cool stuff I wanted to do.” While he hasn’t told anyone the ultimate ending to the series, or even written it down, it seems a forgone conclusion that it must come to an end for him.

“To be able to top yourself, and keep things fresh, and keep things interesting… It gets harder and harder and harder as you go,” Kirkman said.


According to Comicbook.com, he also said that Rick Grimes, the series protagonist and leader of a core group of survivors, won’t make it to the very end of the story. “I’ve said before, Rick does not survive to the end. It was years ago so you guys probably forgot, but I foresee there being more story after his eventual demise.”


Fortunately fans of The Walking Dead TV series should not be worried as AMC’s take on Kirkman’s comic is still going strong with a just recently announced season 8 premiere date.


Based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman, this gritty drama portrays life in the weeks and months following a zombie apocalypse. Led by police officer Rick Grimes, his family and a group of other survivors find themselves constantly on the move in search of a safe and secure home. But the pressure each day to stay alive sends many in the group to the deepest depths of human cruelty, and Rick discovers that the overwhelming fear of the survivors can be more deadly than the zombies walking among them.


How do you want the Walking Dead comics to end? Do you have any ideas of what Kirkman’s ending could look like? Let us know in the comments section.


Photo Credit: AMC



Source: B2C

Is It Worth Owning a Franchise? Investing in Franchises vs. Running a Small Business

Owning a franchise is considered a much safer investment than actually running your own business and this is why it has become increasingly attractive throughout the past couple of years. After all, you put your money into an already proven company with meticulous attention to process and vast network of industry contacts. When you add the fact that there rarely are requirements for relevant experience, the benefits of franchising seem almost unreal when compared to starting your own small business. Is that really the case with franchises and why people bother starting their own businesses, when it’s so easy to invest in already developed ideas? To find the answer to these questions and more, I explore in detail investing in franchise vs starting your own small business.

Image result for franchise vs small business


Franchise vs Small Business


With initial fees usually starting at tens of thousands of dollars per month (depending on the industry this could go much higher), it’s not hard to compare this with starting your own small business in pretty much any industry. Let’s review the advantages and disadvantages for both:


Franchise Advantages


As already mentioned, franchise benefits include a vast customer base from the start. A small business on the other hand, can take years (sometimes even decades) to grow and requires countless hours of hard work, often with no actual results at the end of the day.


Another advantage of investing in a franchise is the constant access to qualified training and ongoing support for your business. When you are a small business owner, you can consider yourself lucky if you manage to secure truly good advisors for the long run.


Franchise Disadvantages


While with your small business you can gradually grow expenses, with the franchise the initial investment goes directly to the franchisor and is used to open the specific location you invested in.


In addition to the initial franchise fee, you are usually required to pay on going royalties and for advertising campaigns of the brand.


Another main potential disadvantage of investing in a franchise involves the ability to manage the business, as well as the often numerous restrictions applied by the franchisor (these often include specific lists with items offered, geographic locations served and item/service pricing). In a scenario where some unforeseen problem causes the franchisor to experience financial difficulties, the franchisees are often the ones who pay the bill. While this scenario doesn’t happen very often, cases of franchise investors lost their money are not something rare.


Conclusion


It’s hard to argue that investing in franchise carries much lower risks than starting your own small business, but it’s worth clarifying that it’s not a sure-fire win – you will need to have the same attitude as running your own small business, with rather limited management control, but access to vast resources and very qualified mentors. As a business owner myself, from my perspective starting out as an entrepreneur with a franchise business investment is a great way to meet and learn from amazing people, which will potentially help you skyrocket all your future business ventures, as well as your franchise. However, bear in mind that like every successful investor out there – you need to take time and do your due diligence to ensure that your investment is safe.



Source: B2C

Friday, 21 July 2017

Do You Trust Your Customers? Do Your Customers Trust You?

I just returned from Influence 2017, the annual conference put on by the National Speakers Association. My friend and one of the world’s authorities on trust, David Horsager was one of the amazing keynote speakers. He shared an excellent customer service example that can be summed up this way: Trust your customers and they will trust you.


The quick version of the story is this: A farmer owns a fruit and vegetable stand where his customers pay on the honor system. They simply go over to the money jar and put the appropriate amount of money into the jar. If they need change, they make their own. He trusts his customers to do what’s right, and it pays off.


First, the farmer saves money by not having to hire a cashier. Next, he saves money by not having to buy rubber gloves that he has to change every time he touches money and then switches back to touching the produce. That also saves him time, which is, ultimately, money. But most of all, he gets loyal customers that come back, buy more, spend more when they buy and feel valued. That’s because he trusts his customers, and they trust him.


Customers want to be trusted. After all, would you want to do business with a company that feels like they don’t trust you? Are we guilty of having a process or rules that send the message to the customer, “We don’t trust you.”?


A couple of years ago I shared an example that helps make this point. Guitar Center, one of my favorite stores, had a pretty hefty system to prevent shoplifting. As you walked in, they had a desk that had a full-time employee checking equipment that was brought into and out of the store. It turned out that the anti-shoplifting desk was costing dramatically more to manage and staff than the cost of the merchandise they were losing to dishonest customers. And even worse than that, it was also insulting their honest customers. This is an example of punishing all the customers for the sins of a few. The good people at Guitar Center figured this out and eventually did away with their expensive anti-shoplifting system.


You want your customers to trust you enough to buy from you. So, don’t create friction by putting up barriers with a process that makes them feel like you don’t trust them. It will raise a red flag. It will make them feel uncomfortable, and as mentioned, even insulted.


One of Horsager’s favorite lines is, “A lack of trust is your biggest expense.” He’s a smart man. He gets it. Do you?



Source: B2C