Category: Free Stuff


socialmedia

(copyright DKemp Designs)

Social Media is the great business buzzword.  What is your social media strategy, do you have social media apps, how do you handle social media. these are the questions of the new consumer landscape.

If you are a small business chances are you don’t have the budget to hire a specialized social media master.  So you make do with whoever in the office seems to know the most.  But it is not enough to set up a Facebook, Twitter and Google+ page and hope masses of customers will show up.  In fact, Techsnoop has seen hundreds of business pages that have virtual dust on them.

Looks Count

First, is your page appealing?  You need to have a great logo and cover photo that attract interest and showcase your business.  The photos should be crisp and in-focus, not blurred or stretched out.  Here is where a little money goes a long way.  A professional graphic designer can create 2 or 3 cover photos in the sizes needed and you can rotate them through the year.  Next you need to post some interesting information on the page.  Blog or news items relating to your business are great posts if you don’t have any sales or promotions going.

Mix It Up

Next, do you like or comment on posts of others on your page?  If not, why not?  You should have at least a few regulars with content you can look for and like each week.  Mention others and interact so they will do the same.  This is what gets your “talking about” stats up on Facebook.

You wouldn’t go to a party and stand in the corner looking but not speaking to anyone.  The social part of social media is interaction.  Make honest connections with others who have something in common and keep conversations going.  Thank others and when asking for likes and follows use the word “please”.  Manners count.

To keep your time manageable on the platforms, search for specific content that relates to your business or interests you like technology or football.  This will help you choose your top engagers and keep the time spent to about 3 total hours per week.  Ideally, time should be spent one hour a day for 3 days each week.  This keeps you looking active.

Let us know in the comments if this helps you focus your social media efforts for 2013.

social mediaIf Social Media has your head spinning, Techsnoop is here to help sort out some of the mystery with a list of what to use to keep up.  Social Media strategy depends on your small business goals and niche.  Review here and on the previous post to determine what will work for you.  And all apps are FREE!

Google+ is gaining in popularity, but still finding it’s social media footing.  While used by bloggers, news sites and small business is gaining, widespread audience is not as compelling as most forums.  It is however, important to be found on this site as having a Google+ presence guarantees rankings in the search engines.  Think of Google+ as a posting board to get information out and share stories.  Don’t devote excessive time to it unless you are a blogger.

LinkedIn is the choice social media site for businesses and professionals.  The site and its groups have little tolerance for spammers and fakers.  If identified as one of these, you will be ousted quickly.  Join groups and make sure you like and post on topics of interest.  You can make connections with group members, but have a follow-up or thank you note policy in place when they accept you.  Manners are KING in this group.  Don’t spam, use poor grammar and spelling or make negative comments.

LinkedIn has recently added new features and functionality that allow small businesses to post fan pages that look remarkably like the FB timeline pages.

Businesses and recruiters check this site for you above all others.  Keep your reputation clean and make sure you have a company page.  Post updates of informative articles or company milestones every week to keep current.

Techsnoop’s latest favorite Social Media tool is BufferApp.  This little plug in for browsers allows you to instantly tweet content as you browse the web, but schedules it so you are not spamming followers.  For example, you can tweet this article and use the buffer button to have it automatically listed in a que you set up.  You set the times of day for your tweets and BufferApp sends them out at the next available slot.  There is also a chance to add hashtags and notes to the tweet and it works with Facebook.

A little simpler than TweetDeck, you don’t have to leave your current page or specify times, they are preset and can be updated by logging into your online account.  Nothing to download or install.

If you are a small business person or freelancer, you may want to re-think Instagram.  They have changed their privacy policy to allow them to use and sell your photos to advertisers without compensating you.  This is a copyright violation for small business owners.  You may want to switch to Flickr.

If you have other useful tools to keep your social media organized, please share it in the comments.  Happy surfing!

(Credit: DKemp Designs)

Are you a web designer who needs to understand how to integrate jQuery into your web designs?

Techsnoop is here with timely tutorials on how to link jQuery files to your sites so they work smoothly.

The first tutorial is a basic one of how to add jQuery to your site so it works properly.  The second is a bit advanced, but it gives you a simple demonstration of how jQuery can jazz up your sites without using Flash.  Since many mobile devices do not support Flash, it is important to be device neutral in your designing.

Whatever your design role is, understanding how jQuery adds dynamic movement to the web is important.  Movement and interaction are key concepts that “sell” your site to customers.  Anything that results in higher conversions is a best practice for future of web development.

Have a great week and get your skills polished.

 

Hey, designers.  Ever had a great 2D photo you wished you could make a movie clip with?  Didn’t want to be stuck with a flat, boring slideshow?

Well Techsnoop has the answer to your problem with this great tutorial from JSWoodhams.  Thanks for the great video showing how to achieve this effect with Photoshop and After Effects.

So, break out the Coke or coffee and pay attention!  Oh, and please let us know if you want more of these tutorials to be posted in the comments.  Have a great week.

TechsnoopToday’s post is from one of my favorites, iGameMom who keeps up with the latest in electronic learning for the height-challened, super tech generation.  If you are a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, of a kid up to grade 12, check out these apps and her blog.

It is hard to believe the school is starting soon.  Are you ready for the kids going back to school?  Are the kids ready?   I hope these back-to-school apps will help the kids to achieve straight A’s and stay happy!

First, here are some apps that will help the kids transition into the learning mood from a relaxed summer:

Brain Quest (free): curriculum based trivia games for grade1 to 5.  Each grade has 80 questions.  With In-App purchase ($2.99 for each grade), you can buy the whole pack, which has over 600 questions for each grade.  Kids learn while playing games.

BrainPop Featured Movie (free): Kids get to see a new animated documentary every day. The range of topics is amazingly broad: science, history, Engineering & technology, Social Studies, English, Arts & Music, and Health subjects.

TeachMe ($1.99 for each grade level): An app series covers Toddler, Kindergarten, Grade1, and Grade2. Each grade has spelling and basic math.

Khan Academy (free): Free classes on various subjects.  The topics include: K-12 math, science (such as biology, chemistry, and physics), finance, history, test prep (GMAT, CAHSEE, SAT math, etc). The level of the courses ranges from elementary school to college.  Any student will be able to find something

After they get into the learning mood, here are some apps that can help them get A’s on the specific subjects

Stack the States ($0.99): Learn US states via interactive games

Stack the Countries ($1.99): Learn world geography while playing games

NOVA Elements (free): Learn periodic table with multi-media materials, such as short videos, pictures, 3D models, and games.

SplashMath ($9.99): comprehensive math app that is linked to US standard curriculum.

Mathemagics – Mental math tricks ($0.99): teaches little tricks on how to do math quickly

Mindsnacks Spanish (initial download is free with one level, $4.99 for the whole package with 50 levels): Learn Spanish with fun.

Now Some Good Reads:

Ice is Nice – Cat in the Hat Learning Library ($5.99): Learn animals and geography of North and South Poles. It is for kids aged 5-10.

ABCmouse.com: Grand Canyon (free): Kids 4 and up will learn everything about Grand Canyon, following ABCmouse.

Horton Hatches the Egg ($4.99): Another Dr.Seuss’s book app designed for pre-school and kindergarteners.

Biography Comics (free for the first 3 books, $29.99 for all 29 books): 29 biographies in comics, including Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Hillary Clinton, Steven Spielberg, Warren Buffett, … It is for kids 8 and older.

Cool to be Clever (free): kids 6 and up who can read chapter-books will learn the story of Edson Hendricks and how he invented “connectionless” network design that is used in today’s Internet.

Brush of Truth ($1.99): A book app written for children age 8-12.  It is a book app that the readers get to decide how the story unfolds… NOTE: will be $0.99 on Aug.17!

While at school, there will be issues about bullies and interactions between peers, these apps will help:

FeelElectric (free): designed for kids 6 and older, this app teaches kids recognize different emotions and express emotions with words

Be Confident in Who You Are ($2.99): a graphic novel targeted at kids 8-14 years old. It addresses topics such as self-consciousness, stress, bullying, fitting in, body image, and sticky issues in friendships. All these issues are presented in an age appropriate manner.

Enjoy a new school year with these cool apps!

So, your business is on a tight marketing budget and you want to leverage Social Media.  Know going in that it is comparable to entering the bear cave with a club and flashlight.  Neither will help, you need better tools.

Where to start?  Well, that actually depends on your goals and strategy.  Techsnoop is here to tell you where not to start.  Don’t buy Twitter followers or Facebook Likes.  These are bogus accounts set up by spammers with automated tools and they do not give you credibility.  The entire point of social media is to establish yourself as reliable and trustworthy in your field.  Having spammers on your accounts opens up your followers and fans to spammers as they now can access them.

Building a quality following is a task that takes time.  Humans have to monitor and track progress and interaction.  Quality content has to be shared both ways for it to be meaningful.  Otherwise, it’s not social media but tech media.

Once it is known that you host spammers, you will lose much of the traction provided by social media.  So what can you do?  If you are unable to hire a Social Media Strategist, do it yourself or get an intern.  If you get an intern, make sure you give them a specific list of guidelines on who to follow and who to block from your pages.  This prevents embarrassing mistakes caused by technology and generation gaps.

People with no profile picture need to be reviewed.  If they have no pic and no bio, they may be a spam account.  Look at the web addresses on the bios, if there are suspect terms like “getfollowers” it is probably a spam account.  Either report the account as spam, or if you are unsure, just block them.

To help you out, use tech tools like Fakers that will quickly let you know what percentage of your followers might be fake.  You can then go through your followers list and prune accordingly.

Who.Unfollowed.Me will help you keep up with those who follow then unfollow you in a short time span.  Another trick of spammers.  They have to keep dropping people to move on to the next target due to Twitter limits.

Let us know in the comments if these two tools have helped you to tame the social media beast.

Multi-ScreenThe latest trend in marketing and social media is the rise of user multi-screening.   Tech Crunch says more customers are using several screens together for a richer information experience.  For instance, a customer may start looking up a product on their smartphone and continue the purchase on a PC or laptop.  Or they may begin watching a movie on TV and finish up on a tablet as they have to become mobile.  Small business must transition to make this experience as seamless as possible.  Failure to account for user changing metrics will spell failure for your business.

What does this mean to you?  Well, when contracting for digital services, more money will need to be budgeted to get a service or professional that offers responsive web services.  Also, all platforms will need to be integrated for seamless movement from one to the other.  This means SSL will become necessary to collect user information so they can keep connected.

The presentation below shows how Google thinks this trend is important.  And if Google thinks it is important, we had all better take note.
Multiscreenworld Final

socia mediaWhy blog?

Many small business owners and freelancers are confused by the multitude of social media options and how it can increase their reach.  Blogging is one way to increase the reach of any business provided the blog offers useful information presented in an engaging way.

Photos and video are one way of engaging readers, but sought after information consolidated in a non-confusing prose also can be useful to your readers.  Adding your social media contact buttons and website links can encourage readers to visit your sites and begin to recommend you.

In the loud, crowded Internet marketplace, recommendations as an expert in your field are like gold.  Recommendations separate you from fly-by-night shysters who only want to skim quick profits as opposed to building customer relationships that last.

How to get started?  Create a list of topics you are interested in and have experience with.  Write a bunch of random thoughts down.  They don’t need to be complete sentences or written nicely.  Just free form write whatever comes to mind.  Put it away for a day.  Come back and select a topic to expand on, then, do your research.  Look up information related to your topics that will be interesting to others.

Write two or three posts before beginning to publish and review them carefully for typos and grammar before publishing.  Choose free pics or graphics or make your own that relate to the topic.  Then link with social media to complete the circle.  All of the resources gather and increase traffic and traffic is the first step to online business success.

Stop by frequently for further blogging tips and let us know if this inspired you to start a blog.

Happy Monday.  Time to crack open the coffee and Coke and get back to the design grind.  If you have no current projects, this is a great time to pre-solve some tricky procedures.

Unless you are a design guru, Techsnoop is sure many aspects of using files in After Effects has you scratching your head with “now what”.  Importing files and transforming them into spectacular works can be different every time.  But this great tutorial from Adobe TV should help clear the fog, at least with files created in Illustrator.

Branding is a complex process that involves a number of people and trial and error.  However if you are a small business start up you likely do not have funds to hire professional branding firms or to undertake extensive market research.

So how do you establish an identity for your business that will stand out in the crowd?  First check out the competition.  See what is working for other companies similar to yours.  Do not copy them, but make notes on things they have in common.  Color is a great place to start, for instance, blue is a highly used color in many logos and websites.  Blue conveys trust and dependability and so is used to create a bond between customer and business.  Black equates with value and sophistication and thus the rise of black websites and business cards.

Use tools like Kuler from Adobe to create and select complimentary colors for logos, text and website graphics.  The site allows you to upload a photo you like and create a color palette as well as creating color mixes on the fly.  Having a firm color choice can make the web design process faster and cheaper.  Colors create the tone and can suggest a theme for your company communications.

Instead of using expensive market research, try out your brand with a small run of business cards, Facebook cover, Twitter background and mailers.  Enlist friends and family as test audience.  As you collect customers, ask for honest feedback on your marketing materials.  Ask what made them come to you or what caught their eye.  Also ask what they feel doesn’t work as this is the critical part that needs changing.

Choose a graphic designer who is comfortable creating a logo and graphics that will evolve over time and will include this in the pricing.  Don’t expect your designer to make changes for free.  Know that designers charge based on time, talent and creativity.  The combination is what causes variation between designers.  If your budget is really low, you need to consider using an intern with the expectation that the project will take longer and quality may be less.

Finally, look at your brand carefully to make sure it feels right for you and your business.  The whole point of your brand is to convey your uniqueness, if this doesn’t come through the brand fails.