Facebook Live, Trend or Tremendous?

One of the biggest trends in content marketing in 2016 was video and this trend will continue to rise in 2017. If you think about it, video is absolutely everywhere online: from live streaming to social media, articles, ads and these modes will only continue to grow in the years to come. Global giant Facebook recognized this trend and staying ahead of the curve launched Facebook Live in 2015, which is now available on all Pages and profiles on Facebook for iOS, Android, and the Facebook Mentions app.

So, what is so cool and beneficial about Facebook Live?
It gives anyone the chance to share live video stories, awareness campaigns, events, even products with your followers and friends in real time. One of the coolest elements of Facebook live is the interaction with real people in real-time. Facebook Live allows followers and friends to make comments while the presenter is speaking which helps to shape the discussion, flow, and overall feel of the live event. This type of personal interaction is unparalleled in any form of advertising. The other major benefit is that you don’t have to spend hours on editing and creating fancy videos, you only need a phone, a Facebook account and a good topic for your live story to reach your audience.

Here are some ideas for your first Facebook Live session:
– Hold a Q&A on issues or topics your followers are interested with or need help with.
– Explain, inspire and share with your audience a little bit of your mastery through live tutorials and workshops
– Give your followers an exclusive look into your brand by going behind the scenes
– Show a Demo
– Interview an interesting friend or colleague
– Livestream an event. Keep in mind that your live broadcast can last up to 4 hours.
– Launch a themed video series, like TV shows that would appear regularly on a set date and time.

Video is taking over the web, it is not a trend, so jump on the band wagon! Reach out to us at AFFIRM to plan your next Facebook Live event.

Source: https://flothemes.com/benefits-facebook-live/

Web Design Lives!

I'm not dead yet!
I’m not dead yet!

 

Someone over at UX Mag has declared that web design is dead, and we all need to be UX designers now. Hmm. Now I know how those medieval scribes felt when Gutenberg came out with his fancy new printing press. Or painters when the dagguerotype meant no-one would ever have their portrait painted again, or, much more recently, graphic designers when the introduction of the web meant no one would ever need print collateral again.

Over and over, we hear about the death of one artistic discipline in the face of a new technology, and over and over, the old tenaciously survives. Often, the shift exemplified by the new highlights unsustainable practices in the industry surrounding the old field.

Take music, for example. Record labels built their business model around having control over the expensive technology needed to record and distribute music. Powerful home computers, ever-improving software, and digital distribution gutted the foundation of that model. So for (at least) the past decade, the industry has been in upheaval as it simultaneously tries to patch a desperately broken system and reinvent itself. And yet, music is not dead.

I have friends who work as wedding photographers. A difficult industry in the first place, it’s increasingly hard to explain the value to consumers. As digital cameras have become ubiquitous, everyone’s got a friend with a decent consumer DSLR who they’re pretty sure can just get some pictures for them for free, or “as their wedding gift.” Meanwhile, people who do hire photographers now expect to have full rights to their photos to reprint and redistribute as they please, without coming back to the photographer each time. Yet my friends can still make a living. They’ve responded to the changes in technology and culture, and adapted their business models to work.

What wedding photographers have done, what musicians are doing (and labels are still figuring out), what practitioners of all sorts of disciplines have done throughout the ages is what we need to do. We adapt. This isn’t a big deal. Frankly, we’re better positioned than those who’ve worked in most of these fields throughout history. Web design has always been in flux, and we’ve always been racing to keep up with the latest trends and technologies.

So now there are new trends (template sites, social media), and new technologies (mobile, automation, the ever-elusive AI). What do we do? Adapt. We learn how to work with, through, and against these things as necessary, and we build better websites. We look at the trends and tech that we need to integrate, and we figure out how to do it well. We’ve always designed user experiences. We just do it on the web, so we call ourselves web designers. Web design lives on.

Don’t Be Scary

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Spiders, heights, and public speaking – oh, my! Or maybe it’s enclosed spaces, dogs, and the dentist’s office. For me, it’s centipedes and… [deep breath]… clowns. Everybody has at least one terrible personal fear, but there are things that scare us professionally and as consumers, as well.

Thousands of area businesses have websites these days, and many utilize social media, too. While it’s important to have these outlets to engage with prospective and current customers, it’s equally important to use these tools wisely. For customers, a sloppy online presentation is like spiders, public speaking, and clowns all rolled into one – SCARY!

How do you make sure you’re not scaring away business? Start by covering the basics:

– Spelling

– Punctuation

– Grammar

– Nice-looking pictures

It’s not that error-free copy is so impressive. It’s just that copy errors can be very off-putting. Save the text message language for text messages (unless they’re business-related texts).

The same goes for pictures. A photo of your company’s mascot can make for a good first impression, unless it’s blurry, pixelated, or has a big “PROOF” watermark in the middle of it. Find some nice pictures of your business, or better yet, hire someone who knows what they’re doing to take some new ones.

Also, keep your information current. You wouldn’t submit a résumé with nothing but your high school babysitting and lawn mowing gigs listed, would you? Your contact information, list of employees and clients, and case studies should all reflect what’s happening at your business right now. Make updates as often as they happen, not as often as you feel like doing them.

If you struggle with these types of things, we’ll be happy to help. Our writers and graphic artists are serious about quality presentation, and they can help you to put your best (and least scary) face forward!

Responsive Web Design 101

responsive-design-crop Four years after Ethan Marcotte coined the phrase in his seminal article on A List Apart, responsive design is recognized by web designers not as just the way of the future, but as an essential technique for the present. But while we designers all agree on this, we often fail at the most basic needs of any new technique: explanation and advocacy.

What is responsive web design?

If you’re still unclear on what responsive web design is after reading that first paragraph, it’s a perfect example of the way in which designers sometimes fall short. Responsive Web Design is the practice of designing a single website which intelligently adapts to various screen sizes. From this brief explanation, let me give a demonstration: we recently created a website for our client Host & Keane. If you pull it up on your smartphone or tablet, elements on the page reflow to maintain their hierarchy, but better fit on the different screen sizes. This is the core of this technique.

Why do it?

Now that we’ve got a clearer picture of what responsive design is, the question is: “why do this?” Well, first of all, when we build websites that are semantic, with a clear hierarchy, adding responsiveness to that isn’t incredibly difficult. Sure, it’s additional work, but if the site is well-built, it’s not overwhelming. So that’s “why not,” but again, “why?” The fact is, since modern smartphones came on the scene (ushered in by the iPhone in 2007) mobile web use has exploded. Even on our decidedly non-responsive agency website, over the past six months, nearly 50% of our traffic came from mobile visitors. Now you’re probably thinking, “Great! If your site is seeing such a high percentage of mobile traffic, clearly this technique isn’t necessary!” But the real picture isn’t so rosy. While desktop visitors on average spend nearly 3 minutes on our site, and visit 6.5 pages; mobile visitors seem to get quickly frustrated, as they leave (on average) before 30 seconds, visiting 1.3 pages. Now the Host & Keane site gets a lot less mobile visitors as a percentage of its total traffic, but of those it does get, they visit only slightly less pages than desktop visitors, and they spend time more in line with what desktop visitors do. As an agency, this is an area where we are constantly working to improve, but for the time being, I hope you’ll come away from this with a better understanding of what responsive design is, and why it’s necessary as a part of your web strategy.

Flex Your Brand, Go Digital!

Digital Board Header

Digital billboards are nothing new, but they are growing in popularity and for good reason too. As a next generation platform for advertisers, digital boards allow businesses to interact with consumers, create custom content and make maximum impact.

Traditionally speaking most billboards you see are still vinyl, BUT if you are looking for more flexibility and versatility then digital billboards may be a viable option.

With digital boards you can schedule different ads to run at different times, even create several ads to rotate. We successfully used this media approach for Metra’s 2014 Summer Campaign in Chicago. By rotating several boards Metra is able to reach a variety of consumers with different messaging thus expanding their marketing efforts and potential ridership threefold.

Another great benefit is the ability to directly respond to market conditions within minutes. Leinenkugel’s Brewing Co. recently took advantage of this by promoting its Summer Shandy with special weather-responsive boards. By utilizing weather sensitive technology the digital ads change as clouds roll in, showers falls, or the sun shines. See article here: http://www.digitalsignagetoday.com/news/leinenkugels-sells-summer-shandy-with-weather-responsive-digital-billboards/

If you’re interested in flexible outdoor advertising or simply intrigued please drop us a line. We are always developing new and creative ways to improve our clients marketing efforts!

 

App Happy

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Honestly, what can’t mobile apps do? I was reading an article yesterday about new apps that set pretty sophisticated security measures in motion when someone steals your phone: http://online.wsj.com/articles/to-catch-a-phone-thief-take-a-theftie-1401301130

Then, I saw an article this morning that says Dr. James Andrews is developing an app that is designed to help young pitchers avoid the need to get Tommy John surgery: http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/11002986/dr-james-andrews-app-aiming-limit-tommy-john-surgeries

Plus, the WEIRD LAWS app just told me that bear wrestling matches are illegal in Alabama. #themoreyouknow

The great thing about an app is that it can be programmed to do just about anything. That’s the reason that so many businesses are finding it essential to have an app as part of their overall marketing plan; that and the high number of people who own / constantly play with a smartphone.

Every business has at least a few pieces of information that they would like their customers to have with them at all times, and most would like those customers to be able to do something with those pieces of information as quickly as possible. An app provides that necessary drop-of-a-hat accessibility, to both the information and the way to use it.

And, if you’d like to offer your customers a way to play games, upload photos, download ringtones, or just about anything else a computer program can do, your app can do that, too.

If you would like to give your customers a way to keep your information with them at all times, a way to use that information as soon as they need it, and maybe even a way to have a little fun with their phones, drop us a line. We can design your app to do all that and more!