Why You Should Be Using Hashtags NOW!

brixel-creative_blog_3-reasons-using-hashtags

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve either only heard about hashtags or you use them on a daily basis. For those that do live under a rock, basically hashtags are an easy way to turn any word or phrase (with no spaces) into a searchable keyword link by adding the # sign to the beginning (i.e. #graphicdesign or #socialmediamarketing).

In a way, hashtags allow you to create communities of people interested in the same topic by making it easier for them to find and share info related to it. It’s a really handy skill to learn and as social media becomes the primary way we communicate, it’s becoming very popular in marketing.

Did You Know: The hashtag was created by Chris Messina in August, 2007.
Read more: http://bit.ly/TaEt8P

Incorporating hashtags into your social media posts allow for quick searching and categorizing. Aside from Twitter, a few other social media platforms – Google+, Instagram, Pinterest and most recently Facebook – have also seen the benefit of using hashtags and have started to implement the hashtag feature as well. So how does this help improve your social media presence?

Here are 3 quick tips to help you understand why you should be using hashtags to increase your social media presence:

1. Organization – Using hashtags in your tweets or posts allows other users to see all the posts about this particular topic. Once you start using hashtags, you will begin to notice that tweets tagged with the same hashtag will all (or mostly) discuss the same topic.

Try for yourself: To make sure the hashtag you are using is relevant to how you will
be using it, just do a search. You never know what people may be using hashtags
to discuss and you wouldn’t want to accidentally connect your business to a negative,
controversial or embarrassing topic.

2. Target your Audience – This might be the biggest benefit to using hashtags. Let’s say you are a freelance graphic designer (like me!), you might want to tag some of your tweets that contain tips for fellow graphic designers with the hashtag #graphicdesigntip. This will show your followers that you’re writing for or interested in a specific topic and it will help them sort through the tweets that are relevant to them.

3. Grow your audience – Okay this is another huge benefit! Although a larger audience isn’t directly associated with using hashtags, it puts your tweets in front of people who might be interested in the same topics, and therefore would lead to a larger audience. The more targeted and accurate your hashtag use, the more targeted followers you’re likely to attract.

 

There really is no reason you shouldn’t be using hashtags, especially in your business marketing. If it comes down to knowing when and how to use them effectively, don’t let a little hashtag scare you! My suggestion: start using hashtags today! Join in on the conversation and share this blog article with the hashtag #mainedesigner now!

3 Ways To Prevent “Cyber Bullying” in Business

3 Ways to Prevent "Cyber Bulling" in Business - Brie + Pixel Blog

You’ve heard of the term “Cyber bullying” on a personal level, however with the rise in social media engagement it is quickly becoming more prominent in business as well. The relationship between customer and business on social media is taking the place of a one-on-one phone call when it comes to customer service, so monitoring your social media pages should be a top priority.

Here are a few tips to help insure your business is not vulnerable to Cyber bullying:

Be Active:
Any of your fans or followers can post a comment on your Facebook or Twitter page so if you remain aware and online, then you won’t be surprised when and if a negative comment happens. The unfortunate thing is no amount of good customer service will keep every single one of your customers happy. There will always be “that one customer” who just will never be satisfied no matter what. But if you remain active on your social media pages, chances are good that you will catch this negative comment quickly after it is posted and you can extinguish the possibility of a fire ball of negativity occurring at your brand’s expense.

Keep Calm & Carry On:
People always find it easier to pass judgment online, so never take negative comments personally – this will not help your business at all. Always remain calm and be respectful when dealing with each situation. If you see negative comments about your business or product that are proven to be false, simply set the record straight and provide accurate information. If this is not enough, it might be time to block the negative “trolls” that are badgering you for one reason or another trying to make you look like the bad guy. The unfortunate thing is as soon as you block them from your page, they will move on to another unsuspecting page.

Remain Professional & Positive:
Whether someone has posted a positive or negative comment to your page, always post a reply within an appropriate time frame to thank the customer for their feedback and you will offer a solution if necessary. In most instances, simply saying “Thank You” or “We apologize” goes a long way – sometimes the customer needs to know their feelings are validated by your business. Treat your response to every customer’s message as if you were talking to them on the phone or better yet face to face. Things are often said in a social media post that might not be said in an actual conversation. Represent your business or brand professionally because this is what will be remembered most in the end.

The relationship you have with your customers is your life line to continued success. If honesty and great customer service are the foundation of your business, you will always be guaranteed a great customer base who will want to talk positively online. Strive every day to give them something to talk about!

Follow me on Twitter (@brixelcreative) to get access to even more great tips for your business!

5 Reasons Why Social Media is Alot Like Dating

Ever notice the similarities between social media and dating? Think about it…as with dating, there are many of the same rules when it comes to presenting your business on social media as well. Here are a few to help you improve your online presence.

Brixel Creative Blog - 5 Reasons Social Media is alot like Dating

1. First impressions

This is a big one! You wouldn’t walk into a first date wearing your sweaty gym clothes – that wouldn’t make for a very good first impression now would it. It’s not so much your clothing or that we focus on looks first, its simply that you should always put your best foot forward. This is the same with social media. If you have a potential client visit your LinkedIn page and it is incomplete or you have no profile photo, this is a problem. If you are on social media, all the information you can fill in should be done as soon as you sign up. If you have to, put in a placeholder photo just so there is something there instead of the “generic” avatar image. Chances are you won’t get any likes or follows if you profile is incomplete. Something is always better than nothing!

2. Be a good listener

Listening is very important whether on a first date or on social media, and for life in general. The better you communicate, the more connections you can establish early on to build your social community. Pay attention to trending topics so you can join in on the conversation, Twitter is a great example of this. With so many people tweeting 24/7, there surely is a lot to talk about. Between tweets, retweets, mentions and comments, engagement is necessary and taking genuine interest in your fans and followers is a must to keep them around. You must show interest in them and be human just as you would if you met them in person.

3. Mind your manners

Manners always go a long way on a date, as it does on social media. Just like I tell my kids when they leave the house, “remember your manners”, all those participating in social media should keep this in mind while posting and commenting. So you might see drama happening on Facebook – stay out of it. There will always be someone that disagrees with another one’s views, and that’s okay but there is a right and wrong way to handle the situation. You should not be the one fueling the fire to spark engagement – this is not the engagement you want. Keep it professional if you are representing your business or brand and you can always leave a conversation if you start to feel uncomfortable. You are more likely to stand out if you are representing yourself in a positive manor.

4. Playing the field

Okay it’s not what you think, so let me explain! With so many social platforms out there, why stick with just one – explore your options and find the ones that are right for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment, because it’s impossible that they all will work for you. However, you should also keep in mind where your current and potential clients are on social media. If you get the most engagement from LinkedIn or Pinterest but you personally do not like it, oh well! Get over it! If it means more business for you, then so swallow your pride and make sure your presence is known.

5. Looks matter

Maybe this is true for dating – you know, love at first sight – but that’s not what I mean here. It’s the visual content on social media that matters most, because this is what is most likely to be shared more than any other post form. Photos will elicit more emotion from the viewer than just plain text so make sure your images are share worthy. They should be unique and follow your branding image. Use the same colors, fonts, even the same layout and always put your logo or website on the image because you never know who will see it. You only have a few seconds to grab the viewers’ attention, so you’ll always see an increase in engagement when you post photos. Go ahead, give it a try!

Let me know how these tips help your business! And if you have any tips to share, please let me know!

Graphic Design: Why You Should Keep It Simple

Even when it comes to graphic design, sometimes simple is better. It’s hard explaining this to the client though. For one reason or another when they involve a “graphic designer” they need to make magical things happen. In some instances though magical isn’t always necessary. As a graphic designer you need to know when to make a design sparkle and shine to WOW the audience, and when to make a design look flat (or simple) so it does not take away from the message that needs to be portrayed. This is a learned trait.

Brixel Creative - Simple Graphic Design Blog

I’m what you might call a “self-taught” graphic design aficionado. I did not go to college to learn all the valuable graphic design techniques I use every day, I just sat down with Adobe and embraced my one-on-one time. I’d like to think my 15+ years creating wonderfully creative graphic design for various types of companies gave me more hands-on experience than any college would have done. With that being said, I’m sure there are some techniques I may not know about in PhotoShop or Illustrator, and I’m Ok with that. There are tons of amazing tutorials online I can take a look at on YouTube or read about on a blog. Some things in life don’t need to be complicated and are better if they remain simple.

When you strip away all that is unnecessary – get rid of the fluff – you’re left with a simple message that speaks quite loudly to the audience. Take a moment to think about the some of the most well know logos out there. I bet the ones you thought about are very simple designs. The ones that come to mind for me are FEDEX, Gap, NBC – all pretty simple, huh? But that’s what makes them memorable. It is less information for the brain to process and therefore makes it easier to remember.

Rather than piling on the effects, may I suggest you cut through the noise with white space, choose a clean type, incorporate simple shapes and limit your color palette. Sometimes it’s best to keep your graphic design simple. Get back to the basics because less will always be more, especially when it comes to graphic design.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Do you like to keep your designs simple?

When it comes to social media, the best thing you can do is…

RELAX!!!

There, I said it. You might be thinking “is this woman crazy?!? I can’t relax when it comes to social media!”. Okay, okay give me a minute to explain myself. Social media on a personal level is pretty relaxing (minus the drama of course). It’s once you start marketing and promoting your business on social media that it becomes a whole different ball game. You have to deal with algorithms, paid ads, scheduled posts, reports, time….blah, blah, blah. Social media for business can get a little stressful sometimes and it will make you oftentimes question why you do it at all.

Brixel Creative - Surviving Social Media

But isn’t there an easy way?!?!

Unfortunately I have no magic spell that can take away social media, and you have to admit it is a pretty good marketing tool, so you will just have to press on. As complicated as it is, you must see it as an advantage for your business and the more you learn how to use it the easier it gets. Trust me! It might take a little time at first to figure out how and where you will find articles, photos, quotes or whatever, but don’t give up! You’ll find your rhythm and figure out a strategy and soon enough you’ll see what your fans respond most to. Once that happens, it will become a pretty gratifying experience. And honestly, the less you think about it the more open-minded you will be and the easier it will become.

What does this mean for you?

To make a long story short, I’d like you to take a moment and think – social media isn’t going anywhere and if anything it is quite possibly becoming the most important part of every business’ marketing plan, so the sooner you make friends with social media the sooner you can sit back and RELAX!  Just have patience, remain calm and you will reap the benefits!

Now tell me this…

How do you use social media to market your business? Which social media channel do you use most – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+? Comment below!

Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media Etiquette

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SOCIAL MEDIA ETIQUETTE
BrixelCreative.com

These days the internet is used for many, many purposes other than just sending a simple email. You can find very successful businesses selling their products solely online, along with a never ending amount of blog articles.

With so many people from some many different walks of life browsing the internet at all hours of the day, there are times when etiquette may be overlooked. Maybe you think “I’ll say what I want to say because they don’t even know who I am” – respecting others and their opinions is fine, but there is a fine line.

Here are 7 common Social Media Etiquette Tips you should be practicing every day:

  1. Remember your manners – I remind my kids everyday to say “Please” and “Thank You”. Manners can go a long way if you want to be respected and be remembered. Just because you are hiding behind a computer doesn’t mean you have free reign to say “anything” you want. You still need to be held accountable for your words.
  2. Be true to you and your brand – What you do and say on the internet is a direct reflection of you and your brand if you are representing a business. Keeping it real is what will get you noticed since people will want to connect with interesting individuals and unique companies.
  3. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover – It’s the old saying I’m sure you’ve heard many, many times and it still holds true to this day. Maybe a new connection doesn’t have as many Twitter followers as you, or their portfolio could be updated, don’t discount their credibility because of these facts.  Never judge too quickly because this new contact could be very beneficial to you or your company.
  4. Keep it personal – It’s always better to have a direct personal connection within a company. Make sure you are on a first name basis with current and potential clients.  Personal connections create a stronger bond and typically results in a long term business relationship.
  5. Just say no to information overload – Resist from posting the same article every hour on the hour – it’s annoying and might give your followers a reason to unfollow you. If you don’t receive any feedback within a reasonable amount of time, consider posting it again the next day but with a different title. Some people aren’t checking their social media 24/7!!
  6. Post relevant content – Keep in mind, your contacts decided to connect with you online because they felt the information you were providing was relevant to them or their business.  Refrain from posting about your day or how you feel about politics because that is probably crossing the line and may come off as unprofessional and annoying. Make sure your posts are informational to your business and keep in line with your branding. It’s always a good idea to post quick tips or helpful hints that the reader can apply to their business.
  7. Always stay professional – Adding a professional profile picture is easy to do and provides your connections with not only a name but a face to go along with that name. It’s another way to build a solid reputation and introduce yourself to potential clients without even meeting them in person.

Hopefully these few etiquette tips are little reminders that first and foremost we should all be treated with respect no matter if we are out at the grocery store or commenting on a blog post. Just keep it real when you are posting on the internet and represent yourself, your brand or company appropriately. The image you put out there could effect your real life in a positive or negative way.  Always remember: If you wouldn’t say it to their face, then don’t type it online.

How important is etiquette in your social media posts? Comment below!

Why Graphic Design Matters to Small Business

Ask any small business owner what’s an important factor to a successful business and I bet they would mention graphic design and branding. Yet, in business, having quality graphic design is often seen with an “out of our budget” mindset, too expensive and not affordable. However, that mindset can often be misleading and maybe even devastating to your business.

“A picture is worth a thousand words”

With graphic design, maybe it’s your logo, package design or just a simple icon that speaks to the consumer. When you put your business out there to complete with other businesses, there needs to be something that sets your business apart from the rest – but grabbing the attention of the consumer FIRST is what’s most important. It’s the first impression in the end that may be the only thing that differentiates your company from another. And remembering a brand is achieved with consistently great graphic design.

QUICK TIP —> Keep in mind a potential client must hear or see your brand numerous times before the memory of your company sticks. It’s important to provide a consistent and memorable message and image to accelerate this recognition and speed up the branding process.

Brixel Creative Graphic Design Small Business

So how can small business stand out and be seen – going up against those larger companies with huge marketing budgets? Well, first things first, you need to make sure you are competing with like-minded companies and be able to stay within your budget too. Let’s face it, a small business hand-making soap in a small town in Maine most likely cannot compete with a larger company from California selling in all major grocery stores. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put money and energy towards your graphic design to develop your brand image. Having good graphic design gives credibility, boosts visibility, and provides consistency to the consumer making your product more memorable.

Outdated or up to date?

Picture this: you’re searching the internet for a new car. When perusing websites, there are some sites you come across that look very outdated and therefore turn you off right away so you move on to the next website. Then you find a very well designed site and you are intrigued to dive in further; and they might not have the lowest price. You see, it’s the FIRST impression you make on the consumer that is most critical and if your graphic design is “outdated” you risk losing potential client and there is nothing you can do about that.

QUICK TIP —> When developing your website or any marketing collateral, keep in mind this is your IMAGE and the visual design provides credibility and determines the professionalism and quality of the business. This may be your only chance to prove to the consumer you are worth purchasing from.

Having a great product and customer service is definitely important, but just might mean nothing if no one knows you exist. It’s time to put the image of your business first and show everyone out there how memorable your company can be! Professional graphic design can improve your business image, and offers increased positive exposure and sets you apart from the competition. Improving on your design assures you are sending the right message to your clients and most importantly will potentially increase sales. Graphic design improves acceptance and awareness of your products and services and that is what will drive business to your door.

Consider contacting a qualified graphic designer to review your current image and provide insight as to how your graphic design can be improved. In the end, how can you not afford to improve your image with graphic design!