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Online Marketing │Out with the words, in with the pictures

Infographics

Infographics have been informing us since…well as of late, the rise in these popular graphics has been since the beginning of 2012. Infographics help to communicate messages or information instantly through graphic representation and minimal text/copy. Does it work? Do companies benefit from infographics or is it just more unnecessary information floating in cyberspace?
 

Why use infographics?

Infographics are a fun way to present information and as you know users do not spend a lot of time on one webpage to another. So if your business wants to communicate something quickly and clearly this could be a good way to do so. For example, the wine website Wine Folly uses infographics to help explain wine in a manageable way, please see ‘How to Choose Wine’. The graphics are simple but useful, the text clear and concise.

Infographics are also useful for social media facts and statistics. The data is easy to digest, visually pleasing and not too overbearing; ideal for light hearted (informal) presentations to clients or internally within a company. Long gone are the days of nine pages of reports on social media coverage, tracking links etc. Complex issues are made easier to understand through this method of delivery. This is beneficial to both you and your customer. [This comment in particular is applicable for digital marketing agencies].

Philosophical values and messages are perfect topics for infographic posters. Companies can build their brands around images and information they create! Clever eh?

  • Easy to produce
  • Clearly communicate messages, information, facts or statistics.
  • Visual thoughts – brought alive!
  • Build a company’s brand image – users will consider your company as a resource for user-friendly information.
  • A helpful resource both internally and externally.
  • Infographics can be shared very quickly.
  • Used to display a wide range of topics and discussions. This could be anything from blueberries to porn infographics [don’t worry the latter link isn’t too offensive].

 

This all sounds good but…

Some infographics can look a bit amateur. Remember those (one off) nights when you would do your homework last minute. You walk up to the desk, hand shaking, reluctantly sending that haphazard piece of work to your marker. Well for infographics it can be just the same. Some companies rush into producing content quickly without considering the design element and publishing as soon as possible.

This can also lead to inevitable blunders such as not citing where you found information or date from or not hyperlinking quoted sources. I advise including a reference for everything you quote. Acknowledgement of sources is extremely good practice.

Infographics about your own company are only of interest to…well, you (most likely). Remember the content should be engaging and exciting for the reader and self-promoting narcissism will not get you anywhere! In fact it may lead to bad press for you.

6 Infographic tips

  1. Remember all inforgraphics need… a beginning + a middle + an end
  2. The content should as new and as original as possible.
  3. Use eye-catching graphics, flow charts, images, photographs, cartoons etc.
  4. Whatever you say, may it clear.
  5. Information should always be easy to digest and use, this then encourages sharing on different platforms i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc.
  6. Infographics are popular at this point in time but so is Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr – but is your company using all those websites? No? Well infographics are like social media websites – only use if necessary or beneficial to you or your company.

If you have any comments about infographics or would like to ask me a question then please feel free to leave a message below. Use the hashtag #infographics on Twitter to find some great examples of infographics!

Writing guide l Why you should blog

Blogging can be as much for personal enjoyment and fun than it is for a steady income or personal achievement. As an aspiring journalist (kind of), I see the value in online blogging. Some of the best ideas have originated from blogs and it is definitely a great way to deliver a message to an audience; both well targeted and alert. It can create a high level of engagement and provoke responses from all over the globe. Yet it all came from the comfort of your home, office or space.

 

Different types of blogging

 

Enjoyment – first and foremost blogging can be about expressing yourself online. It is one of the best places to voice your opinion and receive almost instant feedback. You can create small communities online depending on your likes/dislikes or interests. Blogs can also be combined with your other ‘stamps’ online such as Pinterest, Google+, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter. So within the space of someone reading your blog they can connect to the other sites you express your personality and identity on.

Reviewing – if you are fortunate enough you can be paid to review products online. This can be great publicity for your own blog as well as for the company asking for the review. Usually you will be given the opportunity to try a product and then write a balanced review [though the company will obviously be hoping for a positive review]. If you are headhunted, or you a find a particular company you love, you could be reviewing a number of products; from the latest innovative hair and beauty product to a newly released film or novel.

Guest blogging – guest blogging is the perfect opportunity to gain more exposure as a person and for your website. It creates a larger ‘web’ of your presence online. Perfect. It can also be an exciting way to acquire new readers and build relationships with other bloggers. It is also (here comes the SEO part) great for search engines such as Google and Yahoo. You will also be in a new community online which is great for extending your knowledge and interests (also known as personal development).

Online portfolio – whether you are a student finishing college or university, or perhaps an expert marketing assistant an online portfolio can continue to showcase your writing skills and the ability to adapt for web. It can be a second CV in addition to your electronic (or possibly paper) copy. Being online shows you are in touch with technology and you can also demonstrate to a future employer your range of skills, for instance with photography, InDesign, Photoshop, WordPress, Flickr etc. The list really does go on!

Paid bloggingit is a dream job to be paid for blogging yet that is right, it shouldn’t just be a dream. If you create enough chances (usually to do with your great writing skills) this can soon become a reality. Or alternatively there are full-time jobs working as a ‘blogger’ for a company or within their social media and marketing department. In Journey’s words “don’t stop believing!”


Top five tips for blogging

  1. Find four bloggers that you like and follow them on a regular basis. Take note of the articles they are producing and how they acquire an audience.
  2. Sign up to Google Alerts and find trends which you enjoy writing about. For example you could sign up to the latest film releases and write a weekly film review. It is a great way to find content which will receive hits quickly in a short amount of time. Bear in mind these blog posts may not be evergreen content so always think why you are adding the content to your blog, ask yourself, what is the purpose of this post?
  3. Write in your own style. Individuality really is key and this is sometimes forgotten in the World Wide Web.
  4. Promote your blog posts via all your social media channels. However remember to target these websites differently. Keep your audience in mind. No doubt (and it goes without saying) people using LinkedIn are using the site differently to that on Twitter.
  5. Above all else have fun and enjoy writing whatever your style may be or personal preference. I still hand write notes before I go anywhere near a computer, so don’t be afraid to express yourself the way you want to. Blogging can open up a ‘new world’!

 

I am available as a guest blogger for your site, so if you like my writing style or think I can do something for you please contact me. If you are a business or company with new products I am available for reviewing. I have previously reviewed products for the health and beauty industry and written critical pub and restaurant reviews for Sussex Food and Drink Guide 2013.

Please leave a message below if you would like to get in contact or if you have any questions/thoughts regarding this blog post (or any others). I appreciate hearing from you.

Modern media makes the news fast

After traveling back from China over the May bank holiday weekend I was unfortunately missed the celebratory street parties and dinners in England for the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton. However whilst in an airport in China I was able to access the internet and therefore view the coverage of the event on YouTube, view friends’ pictures on Facebook and read status updates on Twitter.

Sunday night featured breaking news from President Obama, he announced that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. I received this news by text message in the early hours of Monday from a close friend as I was in a remote location in England.

After reviewing the past weekend two extremely important news stories have been covered. Due to modern media I have been able to access the breaking news despite being in numerous airports and locations over the world. An article published on Yahoo today has elaborated further by discussing how the modern media has positively helped transform the information process and even in the last ten years we have witnessed a dramatic improvement. So, stop and think, how have you discovered news recently? Has modern media been involved in that process? As a traditionalist I am fond of writing letters and receiving postcards but I will also always appreciate and never take for granted my personal use of modern media. Modern media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook provide a base for numerous people from all around the globe to discuss, argue and discover news stories. By creating a thread or post, such as this one, people are able to communicate ideas whilst reflecting and learning at the same time. Modern media not only speeds up the process of information giving but sometimes offers new angles or perspectives.

Would you like your food printed in colour or b&w?

Carrot, chocolate, strawberry and cucumber sponge cake. That is an odd recipe I hear you say, well add a group of scientists, a printer, food and intelligence and the result is pleasing: printed food. How is that even possible?

Scientists in the United States of America have been building a 3D food printer. Cornell University’s Computational Synthesis Lab have been working on this project to change the future of food production. The printer uses food “inks” (liquid or melted versions of ingredients) that are contained within a syringe. The machine deposits food inks layer by layer and line by line according to an electronic blueprint. The blueprint uses CAD (computer aided design) software and instructs where materials should be placed.

So why do we need food printers?

The printer makes cooking possible for those who struggle with or find cooking difficult. The technology allows people to tweak and play around with flavours, textures and appearance. It brings fun to cooking. Alongside fun, the production of meals is time-saving. This allows for fast production of specific meals for those in need: hospitals, disasters or the homeless.

However the technology has not been perfected. The raw ingredients each have different materials reacting differently depending on the situation or combination. The project therefore needs more time to understand the properties of materials.

What does this project promise?

The project promises a step closer to invention seen in the film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the fictional character Willy Wonka creating marvellous food combinations. The printer allows your imagination to run wild, mixing exotic flavours and create colourful food with exquisite tastes. A food printer would make the unimaginable imaginable. However some people feel the printer could be influential on home cooking and alter family dynamics. Traditional home cooked meals could be a ‘thing of the past’ along with cooking skills and time spent either preparing, cooking or consuming a meal. The printer although being able to tailor an individual’s needs could mean less cohesion and unity around eating. This leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

Imagine sending a “home-baked” meal to your partner living abroad via Msn. Facebook messaging a heart cookie to your crush on Valentines day. The industry would also benefit from fast production of meals in places needing or providing care such as hospitals or shelters. The food printer is an innovative idea and personally my taste buds tingle at the thought of such an idea.

Related articles

Technabob

BBC coverage

Celia Barlow’s Online Audit

 

 

Celia Barlow has been a Member of Parliament since 2005 for Hove. She is currently Parliamentary Private Secretary to Ian Pearson MP. Since 4 March 2009 she has been a Member of South East Regional Select Committee and has a strong interest in health, communities and local government, schools, families and transport. Celia’s online social media has helped her as a candidate; this can be seen on the following communication channels:

 

Twitter

Celia Barlow is a frequent user of the website and frequently updates her status (mostly every week). Her last update was 27th January 2010 and although this is over a month ago it shows the specific engagement with fellow tweeters as she is only posting necessary information in support of her campaign. Twitter has a limited number of characters so Celia’s tweets are mainly formal to provide the user with information quickly, “Action to Improve Rented Homes…” either about recent events she has attended or attending which presents Celia as a focused politician who is always involved and committed.

MySpace

Celia’s MySpace page has not been used since July 2008 so is not the most up to date social online communication used by her. The information provided on the page is formal and autobiographical so it does not provide users with any personal insight and with the lack of interesting text, graphics or layout Celia does not create a personal branding style. It is used as a biography similar to other sources found on Wikipedia or TheyWorkForYou.com.

Facebook

Facebook has become a popular social networking site. Celia uses groups on Facebook to gain further support and knowledge “Celia Barlow for Hove and Portslade”. Campaign groups supporting labour can be read over thousands of people’s pages as these groups appear in people’s news feeds; so it is a fast method to reach a great number of people.

IPTV

This is a television scheme to gain involvement in politics and was launched in November 2008. This channel is available on free view and seeks to inform followers of the Labour party as it is a specific digital channel and is advertised over the internet to gain viewers.

YouTube

YouTube is used by Celia as a personal intimate tool to engage with viewers. The use of video (last posted video 8th May 2009) gives users online the chance to feel they are viewing an exclusive insight into the thoughts and feelings of Celia Barlow. The use of video promotes Celia as an MP as she appears trustworthy and with the last video filmed in a homely setting. This also reassures the viewer that she is up to date with technology in her communication style. It is an informal mode of communication but represents Celia positively as a politician. It breaks down the barrier between a political parties’ MP and the public (voters).

Personal Website

Celia Barlow’s website is her main use of social online media. Her website uses a set template design for Labour to immediately communicate to the viewer that she is representing the Labour party. The mission statement at the top, “Working Hard for Hove and Portslade” communicates instantly to the user that she is focused around values and is future orientated.

To create her own branding style of being an honest and friendly MP the homepage displays a slide show of full body pictures of Celia with members of the public from different situations such as helping young people, firemen and the environment. There is a close up head shot of Celia Barlow at the end so the user is familiar with Celia’s appearance. The pictures are to symbolically represent the politician as active and putting the public’s interests first, then her own; which reflects the chronological order of the photographs. However, these images are not coherent with the text on the homepage, as there are no connections, such as a picture matching recent news coverage; they are simply used to represent Celia.

To engage instantly with labour,  there is a DONATE button on the left hand side and this follows onto a form explaining where the money goes to; printing flyers, advertising, meetings .e.t.c. This reassures the user as they know what the money is being used for and this honest break down creates a transparent honest image of Celia Barlow. The website is accessible for all ages and reading abilities with text size buttons given at the top of the homepage.

The home page refers to Twitter, bottom right hand side, and this promotion not only creates more followers of Celia Barlow but reflects her ability to present herself on different popular websites.

The layout is accessible for all with a left hand column with headings for different areas of the website. The different sections engage with all ages in the different sections.

The recent news section features articles (copied and pasted) to inform the reader. Embedding links for Facebook, Digg, Delicious, Reddit and Stumble Upon are given so that the party and website can be promoted in different websites by users. However, the website lacks engagement from users, apart from one section for young people. The lack of comment boxes or the ability to add comments suggests that Celia may not need to view the website regularly. Therefore Celia’s contact details are given and a paragraph explains beforehand that there are four key members who deal with enquiries which present Celia as honest as she does not window dress her website. I contacted Celia to see how quickly she responded to emails and I had a reply within eight hours of contacting her. This was a quick response in comparison to other MP’s that have taken two to three days.

The section, young people, allows users to add comments on a forum in relation to ‘Hot topics and What do you think?’ A user online can view other people’s views which creates a discursive element to the website, however Celia does not post which shows lack of Celia responding and engaging with people using her website.

Voters are given the chance to engage with Celia in the section ‘Campaign’ to sign petitions; however, Celia could have engaged more with users if the questions were not closed and reducing the amount of interaction between the voter and candidate. To create a personal input to the website, the ‘Diary’ section is written in first person and is informal creating the feeling of a conversational friend tone. The tone and register of these entries is accessible for all and therefore Celia uses this voice to present herself as down to earth.

Conclusion

After researching Celia Barlow’s personal branding website it lacks engagement by Celia and users, however it is very informative about labour, future campaigns and previous events. Twitter is used to engage with users by updating short statuses about her movements and successes which inform followers. YouTube is one of the best visual online strategies used by Celia Barlow as she can communicate orally to voters and create a visual intimate impression.  Profiles across the internet are used by Celia Barlow as autobiographies (LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, ZoomInfo). To gain more from these websites Celia Barlow needs to engage more with the website and its users.

Bibliography

http://www.zoominfo.com/Search/PersonDetail.aspx?PersonID=710175318&searchSource=basic_ssb&singleSearchBox=celia+barlow&personName=celia+barlow [accessed 10 March 2010]

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/celia_barlow/hove [accessed 10 March 2010]

http://twitter.com/celiabarlowmp [accessed 2 March 2010]

http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/mp.php?mpn=Celia_Barlow&mpc=Hove [accessed 12 March 2010]

http://news.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/hi/representatives/profiles/40443.stm [accessed 12 March 2010]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOoY9bzLfOc [accessed 12 March 2010]

http://www.123people.co.uk/s/celia+barlow [accessed 12 March 2010]

http://www.myspace.com/celiabarlowmp [accessed 2 March 2010]

http://www.facebook.com/search/?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.myspace.com%2Fceliabarlowmp&init=quick#!/CeliaBarlowMP?ref=search&sid=689915363.2699833693..1 [accessed 2 March 2010]

Zuckerberg reveals the new face to Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg appeared on US TV show 60 minutes revealed the new changes to Facebook. These changes should reach all members by early 2011. A coincidence that these changes come after the invasion of cartoon characters on Facebook profile pictures.

So what are the two main changes?

Improving visuals and the ability to find out more information about people you care about.

How will these changes look?

Vital information such as birthday, current city, relationship and employer will be positioned at the top of a profile page. Recently tagged photographs will be shown below with the option of choosing which photographs to ‘hide’.

The information section has converted text to images wherever possible to improve the visual aesthetics of the website. Yet again a ‘hiding’ option is provided for those with an “embarrassing taste” in music.

Images have also been used in ‘Friends’ tab with a grid of friends’ faces. An attractive display of your friends, what more could you wish for?

Feature friends lists will also be listed on your profile which will see the coming of ‘Top Friend’ lists which you may remember from the social network site, My Space. In my (personal) experience this did cause an online argument or two.

Companies will embrace the new changes to the employer section with the ability to tag people and projects. This will enhance communication in a business and link different people and teams successfully.

Smaller changes

  • Messages and pokes now prominently featured on your Facebook.
  • A link to your ‘friendship page’

So, when will this change happen?

Facebook is giving you the option to choose whether to apply the new ‘look’ to Facebook, but be aware once you have accepted the new changes there is no going back.

Facebook offers a helping hand in getting to grips with the new look with a ‘wizard’, no not the magical kind, but with pop ups and fade effects to walk you through the new changes. This offers users support and only takes around two minutes of your time.

What do we think?

A new year and a new Facebook? With more emphasis on visuals this is a bonus to those who favour visual aesthetics. The revamp offers more emphasis on profile information and the increase in images offers a more graphic aspect to Facebook that we have not seen before.

However, arguments may arise with the new ‘Feature friends’ but to Facebook’s advantage this may encourage involvement with the site. Intrigued? Activate your new Facebook.

Cartoon characters invade Facebook

December 5, 2010 4 comments

Until Monday 6th December, people are changing their display pictures on Facebook to their favourite cartoon character from the 80’s and 90’s to support the campaign, “Stop violence against children”. If you saw my previous post, I felt it was important to show my support.

 

Google trends have seen an increase in cartoon character searches, and many Facebook status’ have been changed to:

Until Monday (Dec. 6), there should be no human faces on Facebook but an invasion of memories. This is for eliminating violence against children

Although, it is not a dedicated day, week or month to child protection against violence, this viral sweep emphasises and highlights our responsibility as a society to protect young children.

So, if you haven’t changed your display picture already, have a nostalgic afternoon searching on Youtube or Amazon for your memorable (possibly, forgotten) cartoon character(s), upload then share with your online community. Show your support.

If you have changed your display picture, what was your favourite cartoon character(s)? Donatello- teenage mutant ninja turtle? Mario? Wolverine? Rugrats? Spongebob?

Please share (if you are not too embarrassed) what your favourite cartoon character is (or was, for those grown up individuals amongst us).

Related articles

Coolest cartoon characters from the silver age

Unicef Child protection website

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