Snapchat for Business: How It Works, Why You Need It & How to Build a Following

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Back when Snapchat was first released in 2011, a lot of people dismissed it as a passing fad. But with over 100 million daily active users, it’s clear the app is here to stay — and yet, many marketers are still struggling with the concept of actually using it for their businesses. (In fact, a lot of marketers are still struggling to take it seriously as a social media platform at all.)

But a huge part of Snapchat’s appeal is the creativity it allows users to express, and the fact that the content disappears within ten seconds. That creativity and sense of urgency are things marketers can tap into on a low budget, and get a lot of reach.

So what exactly is Snapchat, how does it work, and how are brands using it for business? How can you integrate the app into your social media strategy? And how can you build a solid Snapchat following from scratch? Check out the infographic below from SurePayroll and Ghergich & Co. for the answers to these questions and more.

snapchat-for-business-infographic.jpg http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/why-snapchat-for-business

The Future of Social Media: 8 Trends That Will Take Charge in 2016

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What does 2016 have in store for your social media marketing strategy? Want to know the trends that you may need to integrate into your plans this year?

Social media platforms are fast changing and ever evolving places. Keeping up with those changes not only helps you stay better educated, but it also ensures your business stays at the forefront of your customers minds.

What changes will happen in 2016 though? CJG Digital Marketing share their predictions in the infographic below.

The Future of Social Media 8 Trends That Will Take Charge in 2016http://blog.red-website-design.co.uk/2016/01/11/the-future-of-social-media-8-trends-that-will-take-charge-in-2016/

9 Smart Ways to Stay Motivated All Day

StayMotivatedOver a century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt delivered a now-famous address that immediately cemented its place in the Motivational Speech Hall of Fame.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,” Roosevelt said. “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming.”

Well … yeah. Roosevelt was right — decisions are made (and victories claimed) by those who show up. But maintaining that kind of resilience day in and day out is easier said than done. On days when you’ve been pummeled with one setback after another and have worked 12 hours straight with no end in sight, how do you keep going?

You could quit. Or you could read on for nine ways to buck yourself up and work through it.

9 Easy Exercises for Staying Motivated All Day

1) Keep a Running List of Wins to Refer Back to When the Going Gets Tough

HubSpot sales rep Greg Fung has a simple, ingenious way of keeping discouragement at bay. Fung keeps an Evernote list of all the sales deals he feels he’s unjustly lost — the “wrongs” — along with their value, and does the same with his sales wins and job-related “gifts.”

“Keeping a record of where I’ve been ‘wronged’ actually helps me mentally release the negativity,” Fung says. “And more importantly, when I tally up the dollar amounts for both columns, I find that my ’rights’ far outweigh the ‘wrongs.’”

2) Set the Right Mood with the Right Music

Our environment can have a huge impact on our moods, and while you can’t control the weather or the traffic, you can set the right tone with music. There’s real science behind the way we react to different types of music — for example, research suggests that video game soundtracks improve concentration, while nature sounds could enhance cognitive function.

3) Pump Yourself Up with a Motivational Video

For some of us, a song just might not cut it — maybe you need a more direct message, or maybe you (like me) can quickly tune out music as background noise.

4) Set a Morning Routine

Your willpower is strongest in the morning, so start your days off right. Making a routine of the things you need (or want) to do each morning will make it easier to get through the rest of your day, because you’ll be starting every day having accomplished something.

5) Knock Out a Few Quick Wins in the First Half Hour of Each Day

This one requires reframing how you view a “win.” It doesn’t have to be a successful connect call — leaving a great voicemail or sending a good prospecting email are both small, yet significant, things you can celebrate.

While you should always be working on improving your weak areas, there’s no reason to start your days discouraged. Prioritizing the things you’re great at allows you to start off your day strong and puts you in the right frame of mind to stay positive and focused.

6) Start Your Most Difficult Task the Day Before

Oftentimes, the hardest part of completing a difficult project is simply to get started. When I write long blog posts like this one, I don’t try to complete it all in one fell swoop — even though I could, it’s not the way I prefer to work. The psychological burden of knowing I have to research, outline, write, and format a post all in one day causes me to procrastinate and dread starting.

But I’ve found a system that circumvents this problem. I spend the last part of each day researching and outlining the posts I’m going to write the next day, so that when I head into the office each day to write I know I’m not starting from scratch. This technique accomplishes two things:

  1. Outlining requires less brainpower than writing. Outlining posts the day before keeps me productive at the end of my day, when my willpower is drained and it’s harder for me to focus.
  2. I can dive straight into the most challenging part of my day as soon as I sit down. This sets the tone for the rest of my day and keeps me moving forward instead of getting sidetracked or discouraged.

If you have a big meeting you need to prepare for or a major project you have work on tomorrow, start it today or create a plan for how you’re going to tackle it. You’ll be amazed by how much more you accomplish when you do a little prep work.

7) Do Something Every Day that Makes You Happy

We don’t procrastinate because we’re lazy or have poor work ethic — generally, it’s because we’re unhappy. In Temptation: Finding Self-Control in an Age of Excess, journalist and public policy scholar Daniel Akst wrote that ultimately, “procrastination is a mood-management technique.”

Build some simple joys into your routine. Take time out of your schedule every month to volunteer for a cause that matters to you, put on a favorite piece of music while you’re brushing your teeth, or do something as simple as packing a lunchtime treat for yourself in the morning.

8) Reward Yourself

In his landmark study, Ivan Pavlov trained a dog to salivate at the sound of a bell by ringing it every time he brought the dog food. While I certainly don’t mean to compare you to a dog, you can hack your brain the same way to great effect.

“Research shows that rewards are responsible for three-quarters of why you do things,” neuroscience blogger Eric Barker writes. “So treat yourself whenever you complete something on your to-do list.”

9) Use the “Chameleon Effect” to Get Inspired

1-800-GOT-JUNK? founder Brian Scudamore uses the chameleon effect to feed off the energy of a particularly focused or driven employee when he’s feeling distracted. Simply by sitting next to his more focused colleague, Scudamore is able to mentally reset and get himself back on track.

Feeling down at work? Go find the most enthusiastic, motivated person you know — the one who bleeds your company colors, always seems to have a new side hustle, and actually follows through. Grab coffee with them and feed off their good energy.

http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/motivation-exercises

7 Essential Skills Marketers Need to Succeed This Year

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From changes in consumer behavior to evolving social media algorithms, the marketing world is constantly progressing. To be successful, today’s marketers need to have an advanced skill set that covers everything from content creation and social media to web behavior and analytics.

What skills do marketers need most to keep up with the industry and do their jobs well?

Check out the infographic below from Formstack to learn seven skills marketers need to succeed and why. Use it as a guideline to assess your own strengths and weaknesses so you can focus on building the skills you need to start or continue a lucrative marketing career.

skills-marketers-need-infographic.jpg http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/top-marketing-skills

11 Ways to Use Images on Social Media

One of the interesting developments in social media over the past few years is the rise of visual aspects of social sharing.

Instagram, Pinterest, and Vine are three examples of visual-based content sharing. Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and even LinkedIn have all expanded their image-based features in recent times. Clearly, the bar has been raised for visual content. It’s important to make sure you have a plan for visual content and best practices for sharing it. And you don’t have to be a professional designer or photographer. Here are 10 easy ways to impress prospects, customers, fans, and followers with images: 1. Make Sure Every Blog Post has an Image  Adding one image to a blog post makes your blog much more visually exciting. If you don’t have internal images to use, buy stock images from places like Shutterstock or iStock (so you don’t have to worry about copyright infringement issues). 2. Add Twitter Card Capability to your Blog  A little work by your tech team can add Twitter cards to your site, so that when someone shares content it will also include a thumbnail image and content excerpt. This automatically adds a visual element to every tweet done from your blog. 3. Use Warm Colors in Images  Our own tests show that warm colors (yellow, orange, red, bright green, aqua blue) attract more attention than drab colors like gray, steel blue, or brown. It all has to do with the psychology of color. 4. Use Minimalist or Uncluttered Images  Images with a lot of detail are hard to see when scaled down to a small thumbnail on Facebook. A highly detailed image can become unrecognizable at smaller sizes, so make sure the subject of an image is large and uncluttered. 5. Use Horizontal Images  Vertical images may get cut off when shared on social sites. It’s best to use horizontal images whenever possible. A 4:3 ratio is good, (e.g., 800 x 600 pixels). 6. Keep Infographics Short  Infographics can be interesting content, but when creating infographics, keep them short and horizontal, too, if possible. Most infographics are really long, and when shared on social media become unrecognizable as thumbnails. Plus long vertical infographics don’t fit well in Pinterest and other visual-sharing sites. 7. Use Funny Images on Occasion  Funny images such as cartoons, Someecards or meme images of icons like Grumpy Cat from sites like memegenerator.net add a light and humorous touch to your social sharing. Most businesses will want to avoid off-color humor, snarky humor, or anything that makes fun of certain classes of people. Stick to “business humor,” as most of the time it is safer. 8. Use Selfies (with restraint)  Selfies are fun, and the occasional selfie of the business owner or other staff or the company mascot pet can humanize your business. Use them sparingly, however, as studies show that most people follow brands on social sites for discounts, special offers, and relevant information they can use. 9. Test your Own Social-Sharing Buttons  Most blogs have buttons to share on Twitter, Facebook, and other sites. But have you tried them out recently to see what your shares look like? Sometimes you have to tweak those buttons to pull the correct images and display them properly. 10. Find some professional graphics talent  If you are not very good with Photoshop or another graphics program, and don’t have anyone in house, find a freelancer who accepts quick, small projects. Fiverr is perfect for this. Then have graphics created professionally on occasion to use on social media. 11. Create knockout presentations and share them  PowerPoint presentations can be shared on sites like SlideShare or even transformed into YouTube videos. So next time you give a talk or present to a client, repurpose that presentation and turn it into additional shareable content.

http://www.inc.com/partners/comcast/11-ways-to-use-images-on-social-media.html

7 Tips to Boost Your Site’s Conversion Rate Using Images

Images not only add life to a website, they also make it convert better. People no longer want to browse a website – they want to experience it. Using the right images can boost your site’s conversions and get you to connect better with your target audience.

However, you still find many websites unaware of the importance of images when it comes to getting the most out of existing traffic. Below are some proven tips to help you boost your conversion rate by intelligently using images throughout your website.

Tip 1 – Emotions Rule

Many people buy for emotional reasons. If you make them feel just right, they’ll take action. The same rule applies when choosing images for your site. A positive image brings out positive emotions. It could be a smile, a smirk or a gesture. Emotions are powerful, and they work.

Your customers and prospects aren’t stupid. They know what you’re trying to convey, they see it. Make them feel good, happy, proud, wanted – they’ll agree with you and connect better. The perks of leveraging emotions can be very powerful, but it’s how you do it that matters.

human touch homepage conversionsHuman Touch is a company that sells massage and wellness products. Their website very intelligently uses images to convey their message. They’re not only showing the product, but are also letting their customers get a feel of it.

The image used here clearly expresses joy and happiness. It gives their prospects a fair idea of what they can be experiencing. They could have simply shown pictures of the chair without someone using it, but they took it a step further to show the relaxing effect of the product.

Tip 2 – Consider Using A Mascot

Ever noticed your favorite site with a little cartoon? Site mascots are highly popular these days. Websites and blogs are using them for branding. They are being used to create a bonding experience with the visitors. They’re helping sites create a strong image in their audience’s mind. But how does a mascot help you convert better? Here are a few ways:

I. A mascot can solidify your marketing motif.

seomoz moz bot mascotII. A mascot can have a much more memorable branding effect:

western exterminator co mascotIII. It’s much easier to create a desired emotional effect:

mailchimp connected mascot

Look around, you’ll find sites with various types of mascots. Most of these sites are successful. And it doesn’t even cost you a lot to get it done for your site. Lots of creative designers out there will agree to create one for you at an affordable price.

mailchimp homepage image and conversionsIf you’re an online marketer, you should know Mail Chimp – a highly successful email marketing service. The company has managed to capture a fair share of the market in a short span of time. And that’s largely due to the quality of their service and the impactful imagery used in their branding.

Tip 3 – Give Your Images A Human Touch

Boost your website’s conversion rate by using human faces. They get your prospects to focus more and this causes them to draw towards a common point of interest. It doesn’t get more real than that.

Medalia Art is a site that sells art. Nothing spectacular about that, but the photo versus painting test they did is worth noticing. The website, which is an online art shop, presents paintings from various artists right on their homepage. During their A/B testing, they swapped the paintings with the photo of the artist. Their aim was to have an increased user engagement.

Medalia Art Image Conversion Experiment

Paintings swapped with human photos.

Making this small but relevant change sent their conversion rate through the roof – something they didn’t expect. Their site experienced a whopping 95% increase in conversions!.

Tip 4 – Think Out Of The Box

Today’s technology allows you to do so much more – leverage it.  You are only limited by your imagination. People want to see something new, even on websites. Make your website scream “I’m different” with your images.

due maternity product conversionsDue Maternity, an online retailer targeted towards pregnant women, knows what it means to think out of the box. In order to give their prospects a real feel of their products, they did something unique. Using advanced “dynamic image technology”, the website used images that you can spin around – 360 degrees.

The result? The pages that had these rotating images outperformed the standard two dimensional ones. And their conversion rate for these particular products increased by 27% – all because of a simple twist.

Tip 5 – Show Validation

What makes TV commercials work? Models, actors, and random people are shown using the product. Praising it, loving it, and going bonkers. That’s what make these commercials tick. But the more important question is: Why does this work?

It’s simple – people want a third opinion. They want to feel safe before buying something/anything. They want to be convinced. They don’t want to make a wrong decision. When they see others happy with a product, they get convinced.

If your website has pictures of your happy customers, your conversion grows. It’s a natural process that will never change. Add a dash of testimonials along with their pictures and voila – chances are your conversion rate will automatically go up.

infusion soft homepage conversionsInfusionsoft is a company that sells a complete sales and marketing software tool for small businesses. Their website is professional and well placed. They’ve strategically used images of customers along with their testimonials on their homepage.

They didn’t hide their customer photos somewhere deep down. Why? Because they know how to make their prospects feel at home by showing how trustworthy their product is. Something that’s essential to grow your conversion rate.

Tip 6 – It’s About THEM, Not You

If you want a higher conversion rate, perfect the art of choosing images. Your prospects are interested in themselves. He or she doesn’t care about your product or company. It’s the ‘me’ factor that ultimately does the magic. Show your visitors they are on the right track. Make them feel comfortable. Get them to experience what you want them to. That will open up doors and get more people to like you – buy from you.

coconut bliss homepage conversionsCoconut Bliss sells ice cream. But they’re different, they’re approach is new. Their product looks and feels more personal than commercial. They call it the evolution of ice cream.

This reflects in their website’s design, and the images they used. A very natural picture of a couple enjoying their ice cream. The pictures used on their homepage are relevant and professionally done. If you’re an ice-creamoholic you’d be very interested in what they’re offering. Just because the site uses the right pictures to communicate the right ideas. They didn’t use any pictures to ‘decorate’ their site, but meaningful ones.

Tip 7 – Stop Using Bad Stock Photos

The 90’s are gone. The web 1.0 era has ended. This is the social age of the Internet. People don’t look at the web like they used to. They’re more connected than ever. And educated. What does that have to do with images and conversions?

People can tell if you’ve used a cheesy stock photos.

They used to be a rage back then, but not now. Your prospects will know you’re trying to fool them with people shaking hands in suits.

So in order to get a higher conversion rate today, you need to do the opposite. Choose stock photos intelligently – even if you have to spend more money.

Your site has to look professional enough to convert better. If the stock photos you go for look obvious, you get a thumbs down from your visitors. Not good. Your aim should be to send a positive message to your audience. Be smart and go for stock photos that you know will be right for your site, in every way.

mcafee homepage imageWho isn’t familiar with McAfee, provider of security and anti-virus solutions? Do you see how they’ve used an overpowering image on their homepage? Something that not only relates to their message, but also looks professional.

What they used is a high quality image, which may or may not be a stock photo, but it does not look staged, or cheesy. It looks real and authentic, and is adding real substance to the site. Bottom line: using the right stock photos on your own site can make a difference to your conversion rate.

Don’t Forget To Test Your Changes

The tips described above are to help you get headed in the right direction. Whenever you feel it’s time to make a change to your website, be sure to test your changes with testing software.

https://blog.kissmetrics.com/boost-conversions-using-images/

10 Types of Visual Content Your Brand Should Be Creating Right Now

Visual_Content_TypesOver the past few years, we’ve seen content become more visual. Marketers have experimented with infographics, videos, and more — and they’ve made plans to keep it up this year.

In fact, 73% of content creators plan to prioritize creating more engaging content in 2016, and 55% plan to prioritize creating visual content.

While this certainly gives us a lot to look forward to, it also creates a bit of a challenge for marketers looking to stand out. To avoid your content getting lost, you’ve got to find a way to create something worthy of your audience’s time and attention. But how?

To help narrow your focus, check on the infographic from Canva below. From quote cards to infographics, this helpful list is designed to inspire your next visual project. 

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 http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/visual-content-types