The Best Tools for Photo Management

Life as a marketing professional is fast-paced and exciting. There’s never a dull moment. This is especially true if you manage your or your company’s graphic design and photo editing. What could be more enticing than working with colorful, beautiful photos and graphics? Even with all of the benefits that photo editing and management bring, there are times when it can be very stressful to figure it all out in the graphic design world. It can be especially challenging to try to find great software to meet your needs, especially if you are working with a tight budget. Thankfully, there are online tools that are so user-friendly you can start working with them today. Here are a few of the best.

Canva

Canva has long been a favorite tool of mine, especially when it comes to creating and sourcing attractive photos and digital assets for marketing purposes. As someone with no formal training in graphic design, the user-friendliness of the Canva site is much appreciated, especially when I am trying to create quality graphics and text-based visuals for a time-sensitive deliverable. Signing up to use Canva and learning to use the site is a breeze, so you really have nothing to lose by trying it out.

Google Photos

 think that Google Photos is underappreciated at times. While Google Drive is becoming more and more popular in the B2C space and in other fields, it seems that other well-known services are still more popular overall for photo storage than Google Photos is. I think that this is a huge mistake, and here’s why. Google Photos has basic editing and formatting features that are user-friendly, and organizing photos is ridiculously simple. Of course, you must have a G-Mail account to utilize all that Google Photos has to offer, but signing up is quite simple – and honestly, if you don’t already have a G-Mail account in 2018, you need to get one yesterday. I highly suggest Google Photos for anyone who is frustrated with their current photo storage and organization tool.

GIMP

For being a free alternative to Adobe Photoshop, GIMP really offers a fantastic array of tools to edit and enhance images. From airbrushing to cropping to changing formats, I find it hard to even see a difference between Photoshop and GIMP – and the fact that GIMP is free should make it hard to resist at least trying it out. There are even add-ons such as GIMP Paint Studio that make this program an even more indispensable tool for graphic designers and marketers who are looking for a full-feature editing studio as an alternative to Photoshop.

Hopefully, these tools will help you to better navigate the often-stressful world of photo management and graphic design. Whether you need to quickly whip up a creative resume on Canva or make a photo look more professional with GIMP, these offerings can help you get the job done right in less time than ever before.

This article originally appeared in its entirety on Business2Community.

Social Media Tips for Your Personal Brand

If you are trying to build a positive reputation for your personal brand, there’s no better place to start than on social media. Social media profiles allow you to put yourself in front of the world and your target audience in whatever way you choose. However, it’s important to make sure that the persona you go with is helpful to your brand. The following tips can help you ensure that you make the right choices on social media so your brand benefits rather than suffers.

Use One Profile Picture Across Platforms

One of the fastest and simplest ways you can make your social media appear more professional is to use the same picture across all platforms. Depending on your industry and how you want to appear to others online, you may want to follow common guidelines for LinkedIn profile pictures and use them for all of your accounts, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Create a Professional Cover Photo

While it may not seem as important as your profile picture, having a clean, professional cover photo can work wonders for how your audience views you on social media. Consider using a service like Canva to create a stylized graphic with your name. You can even find a visually appealing, free-to-use stock photo online that aligns with your industry. Just like with your profile photo, you should use the same cover photo across social media platforms.

Mind Your Online Content

Many professionals are still uncertain when it comes to the type of content they need to focus on to build their personal brands online. You want to shy away from anything controversial, offensive or overly personal, unless your persona demands you to share something less traditionally professional. If you have had trouble with grammar in the past, consider using a proofreading tool like Grammarly or your smartphone’s built-in autocorrect features to help you avoid spelling errors and other grammar mistakes. Make sure to review your old content for questionable material and delete anything less-than-professional.

Be Consistent

If you want to appear serious about your brand, it’s important to be consistent with your content. You don’t want to go weeks or month at a time without posting anything. Stay active, interact with others and share interesting articles that you find online with your followers to have the best results and build your following.

While it takes more than a few social media marketing tweaks to successfully build your brand, starting with the tips above can help you appear more competent and trustworthy as a professional in a matter of minutes. From there, you can gauge how your target audience is responding and whether you are getting job offers or interest from potential clients. If you aren’t seeing the results you want, you can implement different elements on your social profiles until you hit a sweet spot that works for you and your brand.

This article originally appeared in its entirety on Business Blurb.

The Best Free Digital Marketing E-Courses

The digital marketing landscape is always changing. While this is one of the most rewarding elements of working in digital for many B2C professionals, it also presents challenges for marketers who want to keep their skill set relevant. I consider myself to be a lifelong learner, so one of my greatest hobbies – which also doubles as a valuable professional activity – is completing online coursework and certifications. While most certifications will cost money to obtain, there are a lot of great e-courses out there that you can complete for free while still learning valuable skills that will benefit you across many digital marketing departments. Here are a few of the best ones that I have completed.

1. Social Marketing Training – Hootsuite Academy

I wasn’t completely new to social media marketing when I took this course, but I went through all of the lessons anyway to prepare for my (paid) Social Marketing Certification from Hootsuite, and I learned many new skills and gained fresh insights from completing the coursework. Even if you decide to skip the paid certification, there are many valuable lessons you can learn from this course, no matter what your current skill level may be. Topics include how to set up a new social marketing strategy, how to build online communities through social media and social advertising basics, to name a few. The lessons are highly engaging, and they come with comprehensive study guides and other resources that you can use to help your business or clients grow on social media long after you complete the course.

2. Social Media Analytics – Quintly Academy

While some of the lessons presented in this course focus on using the Quintly platform to measure your social analytics, the basic information and resources presented in each lesson provide a wonderful overview of social analytics for professionals who are new to social management as well as those who need a refresher on the topic. Each lesson is presented in an engaging way, and the course takes very little time to complete. This makes it an excellent choice for busy marketers who have trouble finding free time for continuing education.

3. SEO Training – Udemy.com

This course is very thorough and somewhat lengthy, so I really only recommend it to professionals with a lot of time on their hands or who desperately need to get caught up on SEO theories and strategies. Eric Schwartzman is a very engaging and competent instructor who adds a new level of interest to the sometimes dry world of online education, so many learners will appreciate his approach. What’s more, you can get your certificate for completing the course at absolutely no cost – it can even be displayed on your LinkedIn profile.

These are my current favorite free courses, but I am sure that new ones will capture my attention as time goes on. Education is a personal pursuit, so you may find that different courses or approaches may suit you better than working through the classes I have listed above.

Google Facts You Should Know

You probably know that Google is a huge powerhouse on the internet if you have ever found yourself using it to get through the day. What you may not know is that it is an important force for your business’s success. The following facts about the Google landscape as we head into 2021 can help you to see why your business needs to focus on Google to boost its visibility — as well as how to do so.

Nearly 60 Percent of Google Searches Are on Mobile Devices

According to Search Engine Land, internet searches are quickly moving in the mobile direction. This is especially true where Google users are concerned. What does this mean for your business?

You need to ensure, more than ever, that your business’s website and other elements of its online presence are optimized for mobile viewing. Many companies and brands have been slow to accept this fact, but waiting is no longer an option if you want to stay in the marketing game and rise to the level of your competitors.

Google Queries Change Every Day

Search Engine Land also reports that 15 percent of each day’s Google queries are made up of questions that have never been asked of Google before. Your business can take advantage of this fact by doing targeted keyword and topic research on a regular basis

Implementing one keyword strategy and never reviewing it will not be sufficient. You need to make sure that you or a dedicated member of your team reviews your plan and your keywords at least monthly to ensure that your website and online content are both harmonious with what your target audience is currently looking for online.

Most Online Searches Now Take Place on Google

An impressive 92.81 percent of all searches completed on the internet take place on Google, according to Smart Insights. If your business has not yet worked on optimizing its content to comply with Google’s best practices, now is the time to do so.

You don’t want to forget about other search engines completely. However, focusing on Google should be your next move if you haven’t been concerned with it in the past.

SEO is the Answer

What can you do with this insightful information to reach more potential customers or clients through Google? For starters, you need to create or update your Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, strategy.

If you do not know what SEO is, a great way to think of it, in simple terms, is a method of finding and logically implementing the best keywords to better reach your target market. You need to consider SEO when crafting content for your social media profiles as well as for your websites, advertisements and online directory listings.

This article originally appeared in its entirety on Business Blurb.

Breathe Fresh Air Into Your Social Media Content

It seems that there is a prevailing myth among many digital marketers that any content is better than no content when it comes to social media strategy. On the surface, this logic makes sense. After all, doesn’t a bustling social media profile with repetitive postings look better than a completely empty one? The answer is complicated. While some may argue that this looks better than a blank page at face value, social media users who actually follow such pages will catch on quite quickly to this oversimplified approach.

A recent article from Adweek points out that two of the most important things a company can do on social to build trust from its audience is to create honest content and to engage its audience. I don’t think it requires much explanation from me as to why churning out duplicate content, even if it is “strategically” spread out, does not meet these goals (nor is it a good way to build your SEO strategy). Users aren’t going to be engaged by boring old concepts,and seeing the same post over and over again makes an organization look desperate and spammy, not honest. If you truly want to have an impact on your audience and build your following, thus increasing your ROI in some form, your business’s content needs to feel conversational, natural, and communicative, even if you are in a more rigid industry. Repeating cookie-cutter automated copy will not help you in this matter.

This article originally appeared in its entirety on LinkedIn Pulse.

Content Writing Blunders to Avoid

In this Google-focused age, it can be hard to understand what content will help a business become successful. If you run, market or write for a small or start-up stage business, this challenge can be even more frustrating and feel insurmountable. Fortunately, it can be simple to write solid, trustworthy content that your audience can appreciate and search engines will be more likely to trust. Avoiding the following mistakes is a great way to begin boosting your content writing, whether you are a business owner, a marketer or a content writer.

Keyword Stuffing

No one can deny that Search Engine Optimization is an important part of digital marketing for any business that wants to be as visible to current and potential customers as possible. SEO keyword placement only becomes an issue when a company website is spammed with numerous keywords, whether relevant or irrelevant to the topic on the page. Google sees through it, and so does your audience. It is not only a smarter and more intellectually pleasing strategy to include specific, relevant and logical keywords within your content – it is easier to implement, as well, as the focus moves from technical SEO mechanics to quality writing. While an individual business’s keyword strategy may vary, this simple yet vitally important piece of advice is universal.

Writing Fluff

Creating content for the purpose of having content is not a wise strategy to follow, no matter what stage your business is at or what your marketing goals are. While it may seem that filling your website or company blog with anything is better than nothing, a review of any high-performing website will tell you otherwise. It is wiser to take the time to create unique, interesting content than to write junk or “fluff” pieces that provide no real value to your audience and will not rank well in search engines.

Using Unoriginal Phrases

We’ve all fallen guilty to this mistake from time to time, but it is important as a general rule to avoid using generic or over-used phrases and sayings. Audiences are tired of hearing these repetitive adages, and you are probably tired of using them if you are honest with yourself. Try to come up with a new way to say an old truth to avoid seeming generic and unimaginative. Your audience will thank you.

After these issues are taken care of, you or whoever is responsible for writing for your company’s content can start focusing on creating original content that is SEO-friendly and audience-friendly. Understanding that every website page, article and blog post that you put on the internet is important to your business and customers in numerous ways can help you re-frame your thinking about content marketing and writing for the web.

This article originally appeared in its entirety on Business 2 Community.

Common Social Media Mistakes

It can be hard to keep up with changing social media trends, for the most diligent of marketers and especially for less internet-savvy business owners. In fact, there are some fairly basic social media tactics and tools that have been around for a little while that many businesses and marketers are either still failing to implement or are using incorrectly. Here are a few of the most common.

1. Not Using Stories

Some social media strategies may not call for incorporating Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat into a business’s marketing plan. However, those that do need to include a plan for utilizing Stories on each platform. The disappearing nature of these 24-hour uploads make for a unique marketing tool that is likely to draw more clicks and encourage better engagement than a permanent post would. If your marketing team does not have someone who is proficient in story creation and management in its ranks, it is time to either find such a team member or identify someone who is willing and able to learn all there is to know about this unique form of content.

2. Skipping the Facebook “Our Story” Section

Less tech-friendly businesses or those without a dedicated marketing department often skip this important section, but it is very important in order to boost credibility and online visibility. A great way to start optimizing this section is by uploading an eye-catching photo to the Our Story photo area – one that is around the size of a Facebook cover photo, but properly sized for this unique box – and adding a paragraph or two of text about your or your client’s business history or mission. This will make the page look more complete and allow you to align it with your overall branding and marketing strategy.

3. Ignoring Facebook Video Best Practices

Whether you are creating an advertisement or just a post that you want to share with followers, following the best practices for creating video content on Facebook is key if you want to make sure that people actually watch it. Use on-screen text whenever possible – many users keep their Facebook volume muted to avoid workplace embarrassment and other mishaps – and keep the video length as short as is appropriate for the content. Lastly, make sure that your post copy is catchy enough to grab the attention of Facebook users who may be skeptical of watching just any video that pops up in their feed.

4. Avoiding New Trends

Many businesses and even marketers are afraid of change, whether their fears are based on budget concerns, laziness or just an appreciation for the status quo. Unfortunately, an outdated social media marketing strategy will not help any business in the long run. The good news is that there are numerous online resources, courses and news articles that allow just about anyone to stay abreast of new trends in the B2C marketing world.

It is not always easy to identify and adopt new technology, especially in the ever-changing world of social media. Doing regular audits and quality checks, as well as staying updated on new social media trends through simple internet searches, can really help a marketer or business take social marketing to new heights and stay in line with the competition.

This article originally appeared in its entirety on Business2Community.

Get Ready For 2021: Digital Marketing Trends

If you like to stay ahead of the game where digital marketing is concerned, it’s time to learn about new and emerging trends in the field. 2021 will be an interesting year as brands adjust to COVID-19 and adjust their messaging accordingly. Here are some advancements that you should look out for and consider implementing as part of your overall marketing strategy.

Ethical Business Practices

2020 was a year of change in many sectors, with racial injustice, economic inequality and issues related to public health being at the forefront of public discussion. As a result, many businesses have had to adapt their messaging and their actions as companies accordingly. One of the most important things that you can do for your marketing and your brand image in 2021 is to review your practices and make sure that you are as ethical as you can be. Your customers will thank you later through new and returning business.

Artificial Intelligence

The repetitive digital marketing tasks that no one in your organization really wants to handle will soon be completed by AI—possibly more efficiently than ever before. This will free up your team’s time and resources to work on more pressing strategic matters.

Visual Search

You may be familiar with visual searches. What you may not know is that more consumers are searching by image and video than ever before. This means that an adjustment to your overall SEO strategy may be required to keep up with the competition. You want to make sure that your content is being seen by your target audience members as much as possible.

New Approaches to Your Team Structure

The main areas that your marketing team should be focused on in 2021 include content, data and media—both earned and owned. The gig economy is also expanding. This makes it easier than ever to find qualified remote freelancers to add to your team.

Do you find it hard to implement these types of digital marketing changes on your own? It may be time to bring in new members of your team or, as mentioned above, find a qualified freelancer to aid you in meeting any or all of your marketing goals.

Social media: Are “LIKES” really important?

If you’re just starting out on your social media marketing journey, or have been going at it for a while but aren’t getting the results you had hoped for, you may be wondering if you should pay attention to page and post likes. As it turns out, you not only should think about likes – you need to. If you wonder why they are so important, read on!

Likes Enhance Credibility

Likes on social media platforms such as Facebook increase you and your brand’s credibility. If someone likes a page on Facebook or a witty post on Twitter, that person’s followers are more likely to both see and be interested in what the person or brand behind that page has to say. This creates organic, free reach and enhances reputation without you taking any extra steps to get there.

Shares Matter, Too!

As important as likes are, you don’t want to put all of your social media marketing eggs in one basket, either. Shares on social media lead to your posts and your page being seen by a much larger audience across the internet. This creates free reach and builds a better online reputation than relying on post and page likes alone. You don’t have to pay a dime to increase your visibility on social media – you just have to put out great content. 

This post originally appeared in its entirety on YAYUSA.

Digital Marketing & Content: Why the “Write” Stuff Matters

As a marketer, it is easy to get wrapped up in the technical side of digital marketing – the analytics, the website development, the many digital tools that you have to navigate and use on a daily basis. For many marketing agencies, businesses and even content marketers, it can seem like the quality of content should take a back seat to the operational side of marketing. However, if you really want to make a marketing strategy and a business succeed, this will not and can not be the case.

The truth of the matter is that you can have a beautiful website with stunning, high-tech features, a social media strategy that is groundbreaking and fresh and a flawless SEO plan, and you still will not be winning all the customers you can if your content is lacking. Exciting content draws eyes. Exciting content enhances brand reputation. Exciting content ranks well. There really is never an excuse not to include great content as part of your marketing strategy – not because keywords are needed, not because your budget doesn’t include a content writer and certainly not because you don’t think anyone has the time to put out good content. No one is fooled by shoddy content, especially not potential customers who are skeptical from day one.

The good news is that even those with little content knowledge or time can begin improving brand content. To start, review what’s on your brand’s or your client’s website and try to look at it from a customer or client perspective. Is the content impressive? On the opposite end, does it position your client or brand as outdated or uneducated? Once you answer this question, take notes and then spend some time on competitor analysis. What are other successful brands in your industry writing? What tone and vocabulary do they use? Take detailed, organized notes as your complete your research, and your next step – building an actionable content strategy – will not seem so hard. Once you have a basic content strategy in place, start replacing or editing your content – starting from scratch where any gaps exist – and make sure that you or someone else with a good eye for grammar reads over everything before publishing. Once your new content is live, start tracking analytics across your website, social accounts and other digital platforms and see if the changes are bringing in and retaining more eyes – if the changes don’t seem to be working, keep tweaking your content until you see the results you want.

This article originally appeared in its entirety on Business 2 Community.