Thursday, March 22, 2012

Instagram Introduction!

If you’ve gotten a new smart phone in the past year or so, you have probably realized that the camera on it is better than that old digital one you have lying around from 2008. The camera quality on these phones has opened up the door for many new picture-oriented applications, some of which are both fun and useful. 

Lately, I have been really into an application called Instagram. It is basically a phone-only application; there is not an actual website that can be accessed. Instagram allows users to share and edit photos they have taken or created. Users simply need to download the free application from the app store on their phone and create an account. Once created, the user can decide whether they want their profile (and therefore photos) to be public or private. After they have decided this, they can begin to post their own pictures and even share them on other social media outlets. 

(Picture taken on my phone, of my phone, and edited with the Instagram app)

 Users can then search for friends or pictures they want to see. Instagram is different from other applications as a person can only “like” a picture; they cannot reblog, repost, or republish them. The application does allow a user to comment on photos directly though. Photos can also be hashtagged, like Twitter, and it allows photos to be easily found. I, for example, searched for pictures tagged with #EDCNY, which is a music festival I will be attending this year. I was able to see everyone else who had tagged their photos with that, and essentially saw who was going to be there from the Instagram community. 

If you are a business, it may help you find new clients. I had tagged a photo of one of my necklaces, and the next day, I had several new followers, all of which were small jewelry stores that sold similar pieces and styles to my own necklace. Some of them actually intrigued me, so I followed back, and with one of them, I will be making a purchase shortly! By simply searching around some hashtags, companies were able to define me as a target customer and catch my attention.

Although you may be thinking, “great, another social media outlet to pay attention to”, Instagram is one that is more for fun than anything! Make an account and play around on it one day when you have some free time. You just may be pleasantly surprised by what photos (or who's photos) you can find!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Timeline Design Through the Eyes of a Graphic Designer

I personally think the new cover photos for Facebook Business Pages are a good idea. Graphically to me it is a billboard in a sense. Another good place to show some new photos of your business or maybe some events you are doing to keep people interested and updated with what is going on. Changing the cover photo is as easy as a simple photo upload, no coding needed. One must know the correct dimensions of the cover photo canvas in order for it to function properly and get your image across to anyone who checks out your page. I like the idea of the new profile pictures layered over a portion of the cover photo. It creates a sense of dimension which is important in design. It may even be a good idea to match the colors in your profile picture to the cover photo so that it blends well and they brand off each other. If created by the right designer a cover photo can say many things, what you do, who you are, where you are, and what your future plans may be. For example I split the design up for my cover photo for my personal Facebook into 3 sections. One section would be somewhere on the cover photo that I am a graphic designer, another with a picture of me playing drums so people would know that is one of my main interests and another section I have a picture of me in a suit looking professional. So I created a look that told people what I am most passionate about and that I can be a rocker and be professional as well and people see that as something fun. If you can show more than just a business face and that your a human who has some fun and personality and you will be on the same page with the viewers.

Here is good example of one of my favorite bands using the Facebook Cover Photo correctly advertising that they have a new song out:


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Oh No!!! Facebook Killed the Landing Page! Well, Not Really...It's Just Different

Dear Facebook,

You drive me crazy, but I still love you.

Bill DeRosa
That's the short succinct letter I would send to Mark Zuckerberg if I had to put it into less than ten words. The latest changes on Facebook are not a simple new button or sorting tab...its a major interface update called Timeline. In addition, Facebook has or is in the process of releasing a ton of new tools or advertising programs to help pages get more visibility and better targeting for their content and ads. I like Timeline a lot and the direction Facebook is going. It would seem, on the surface at least, they are trying to make their platform more valuable for Page owners, and a better experience for the users.

The tough part for many page owners was the loss of a Landing page/Welcome tab. This was a fantastic place to tell people: who you are, what you do, "benefits" of why they would like your page, and a call to action ("Like" us...). It also had a pre-qualification component built in to let people decide based on your page description whether they really want to hit that Like button or not. And if you know about Edgerank, qualified engaged Likes are far more valuable than the Like itself. As well, it is a branded component of your page to really separate you from the pack. Finally, without a Landing page, people are typically just dumped into conversations on the Wall, and may not really know what your Page is all about.

The Timeline Cover Photo, while perfect for branding has a lot of restrictions, so this cannot make up for a properly built Landing page. Here are the rules for your cover photo:

So are the Landing pages/Welcome tabs gone? Nope…big misconception. How they work is a bit different, however.

Let's dig in.

What you see above are our metrics for external referrers to our facebook page from 1/31 - 2/2712. This shows how people outside of facebook found our page. In the past, they would have landed on our Landing page/Welcome Tab. Now they can't...or can they?

Click the link below:

Talking Finger On Facebook

Did you land on our Wall? Or our Landing page? Unless someone came in and edited my blog to mess with my head, it was the latter.

Every Landing page and most apps have a specific URL associated with them. Having people from anywhere outside of Facebook land on your Landing page/Welcome tab is actually quite easy!

1. Go to the Landing page
2. Copy the complete URL address
3. Paste it wherever you are creating a link

I already went around to all of our platforms (Google+, YouTube, Twitter, website, even my LinkedIn and email signatures) to change the URL's to point to the landing page. It didn't take too long, and now everyone will still go where I want them to on our Page. Walla.

As well, any Facebook ads you run can be pointed to that Landing Page. Just simply copy and paste the URL into the destination field. So any ads you run, drive them there!

While that covers all external referrers, internal to Facebook it isn't going to help (if anyone figures out how to do it within Facebook, please let us know!) but what you CAN do is make your Landing page/Welcome tab the second tab in. Such as we have on ours:

Note the "Welcome to TF" tab. Now while people within Facebook may not land on this anymore by default, it is still available and still useful within the platform. As people get used to the new interface, I guarantee they will start looking for the apps and tabs in this area. If you title it well (Im actually iffy now on "Welcome to TF" and may change description to "Learn More About TF" or something clever- suggestions welcome!) people will be curious.

While you may lose a small portion of people within Facebook actually landing on your Landing page, I hope we have shown you some ways in which these will still be valuable assets for your marketing. So if you have one, don't fret! Just change what you are doing. If you are in the process of making one, go for it!

One final note, once someone hits the "Like" button, the page will not flip as before to the Wall. So in your description, or your call to action, you may want to instruct them a bit. " 'Like' us, then click here to go to our Wall".

We are currently redoing our landing page to accommodate the new call to action, but we really wanted to get this info out to you asap! So check back in a day or two to see the updated, full size and rocking landing page we are working on.

And if you send a letter to Zuckerberg, tell him Talking Finger says hello.