Why You Should Be Using Hashtags NOW!

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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!

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The Power of Delegating

“One of the key skills I learned as a young businessman was the power of delegation. Along with my ability to listen to other people and realize when their suggestions are better than my own, this has helped me to attract and retain the excellent people on our team. If I set them challenges, keep encouraging them and create a dynamic environment, I find that people will always work hard.”
– Richard Branson (http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/217701#)

The Power of Delegating - Brie + Pixel Blog

As a manager or entrepreneur, it’s important to develop many different skills – technical skills, organizational skills and people skills. However, the only way to ensure you are highly effective at your job is the ability to delegate and delegate well. Don’t feel like your colleagues can complete a task as good or as efficiently as you? As a manager or business owner, delegating may be the only thing stopping you from being a complete management failure.

Instead of delegating, do you come up with excuses not to delegate? Here are a few:

  • You have too much going on to sit down and explain how to complete a task
  • You don’t know how to delegate or don’t see the value in delegating
  • You don’t trust your employees will get the job done right and on time

The best decision you could make today is to start delegating!

Your time is just as valuable as your employees time and handing off work to them so you can complete more important tasks is what makes you successful. Lessening your burden will make you more efficient, while allowing you to set higher goals and improve your performance.

Think about it…

If you make all the decisions and come up with all the new ideas, how will your employees ever feel like they should take the initiative themselves? Make them feel like they are part of the company and listen to their ideas, let them take the lead. You might find the insight from your employees motivates them to work harder since they feel like they are a part of the business’ success.

Whatever title you might have – Owner, Manager, Executive, CIO, CFO, President – the best thing you can do is start every work day delegating and encouraging your employees. You will only create an environment of trust with your employees willing to take on any project or task, no matter how big or small.

Giving your employees a feeling of empowerment will only strengthen their work ethic and make for a more successful business!

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?

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!

Is Social Media Turning Us Into Zombies?

Brixel Creative - Are you a social media zombie?

It’s true, social media is EVERYWHERE – the grocery store, the mall, restaurants…you get my point! No matter where you go someone is asking you to like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter, oh and don’t forget to #hashtag something. So let me ask you this: does your life revolve around social media? Do you dread those times you are somewhere without internet access and cannot check Facebook or Twitter? Are you compulsively checking your Facebook or Twitter account because you are simply “bored”?

You may be turning into a SOCIAL MEDIA ZOMBIE!

We all know that certain someone who just can’t seem to look away from their devices. They are so engrossed with what’s on their screen they aren’t even present anymore; they are in another world. The social media zombie world! Let me describe this world for you. First, there’s the “check-in zombie” who can’t seem go anywhere without making sure their social friends know exactly where they are at all times. Then there’s the “hashtagger zombie” who thinks it’s #impossible to #write a #post without #hashtagging #every #single #word. And finally the “liker zombie” who feels the urge to like every single post in their Facebook newsfeed no matter what the topic or photo.

I love social media…really I do!

Now don’t get me wrong, these zombies are what makes social media what it is today. They are the ones in some ways keeping it alive. And trust me, I love social media – it’s great for staying in touch with family and friends, knowing the latest trends and maybe even keeping up with the Kardashians. All kidding aside, with access to so much interesting content out there it sometimes does get a little hard to walk away from our tablets and smartphones. We live in a ‘gotta have it now world’ and unfortunately knowing the latest and greatest information is a big factor of this. But for the sake of your family, friends, co-workers and everyone one else you know, don’t replace social media with personal interaction. Turning into a social media zombie will eventually suck the life out of you!!

Now I need to know….are you a SOCIAL MEDIA ZOMBIE?!?!  Comment below!!

Creativity…

When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.
– Steve Jobs

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Being a graphic designer you have your really creative days and your not so creative days.  You have to have thick skin and learn to take professional criticism. And if you get poor feedback on one design, you have to pick yourself up, brush yourself off and move on. Learning not to dwell on the past is an important skill that all successful graphic designers must learn to master.  In some instances the title “graphic designer” has become a generic term given to anyone with Photoshop installed on their laptop.  Unfortunately it’s a little more complicated than that – you must know the history of design, technical aspects of design and be able to answer the how and why of your designs.

But there are times you need more than just creative programs and knowledge of history- you need inspiration. And  I know I’m not alone when there are days I don’t feel creative. Awful, right? Then of course something inside me whispers “hey wait you are creative…look what you’ve accomplished” and of course I move on. So in the end just because being creative might be second nature, sometimes you really don’t know where it comes from.  It is just something you see.

5 Tips to Choose the Right Social Media Channel for Your Business

Whether you’re an established business or a relatively new start-up thinking about diving into social media, it’s not an easy task for anyone. The simple task of deciding which social media channels you will focus on is the toughest part. To help you decipher each option, below I’ll provide a few tips along with a nifty infographic showing the do’s and don’ts of social media. And as a follow up, in the coming weeks I’ll provide more detailed posts about each social media channel to further assist you.

So, here’s goes….

Tip #1: Start by researching each social media channel to determine which will work best for your business. Try to consider what you might post on these sites. Although social media may be free, also consider the necessary time it takes to come up with a plan to develop and schedule your posts.

Tip #2: Keep in mind it wouldn’t be good to sign up for every social media channel right off the bat. Decide which ones would be the most relevant to your company. Start off slow, then you can determine if adding more social media channels in the future would benefit you.

Tip #3: Before you take the plunge, narrow down your list of social media channels that you feel would work best for your company and implement a plan of attack. Make sure not to lose your business image when posting to social media sites. Doing so may have a negative effect so have a clear plan in place helps you stay on track.

Tip #4: Know your audience! This is most important when starting with any social media channel. You must know what your followers or fans want to see. The good thing is you can track this with engagement – over time you’ll get to know your audience and it will be easier to know what they like and don’t like.

Tip #5: Lastly, stay focused and try not to get frustrated. With your commitment it will be worth it, but keep in mind all good things come to those who wait! Be patient!

Brixel Creative - Do's and Don'ts of Social Media
Infographic courtesy of AllyWatch

Hope this information helps! Feel free to LIKE my page on Facebook, FOLLOW me on Twitter and CONNECT with me on Linkedin. Need any help with getting your company set up on social media? Contact me today – I’d love to help!

Don’t forget to comment below to let me know how social media helps your business!