You Still Need A Break (And Don’t Feel Guilty!)

LAURAHEAD

Guest Blogpost by Laura Wallace, Owner and Creative Director, Worx Graphic Design, based in Hagerstown MD. Laura is a branding expert, author and speaker.

I’ve been seeing a lot of memes that say, “Build a life that you don’t need a vacation from.” At first, this makes a lot of sense. There are far too many people that loath Mondays and are always counting the clock to get out of their jobs. Sometimes you have to do what you need to do before you can invest in what you want to do.

But what happens when you have made that transition and love what you do every day? Maybe you’ve taken the plunge and started a business and are FINALLY doing that thing that’s been calling you. Or perhaps you’ve turned your side-hustle into your full-time hustle! You’ve been through the motions, done your time doing what you “had” to and are now living your dream job! What an incredible feeling!

This is where that meme pops into my head. What if you’ve created a life that you love but are still tired? What if you still need a break from it? Is this weird because you love what you do but still want to step away from it from time to time? Heck no! This concept creates an unrealistic expectation that you should never be tired or overworked or in need of some simple down-time to celebrate a recent success. Just because you’re doing what you love doesn’t mean you never need to take a hot second to regroup yourself.

Let’s face it, investing time and energy into creating a life you love takes effort! You may absolutely adore what you do for a living, and for that I give you a high five. But that doesn’t exclude you from needing a break. What if we changed the concept? What if instead of feeling like you have to escape from your life we change the mindset to taking a break to refresh and celebrate? You’re not running away from a life that you dislike, rather investing time in your body and your mind to reconnect and energize your thoughts and ideas.

Taking a break – be it a vacation or a day sinking into your couch watching movies – is a valuable part in any major change, project or scenario. Let’s say you’ve just invested a lot of time in creating and planning a new podcast. You’ve invested countless hours into the concept and execution, and have created a podcast channel that you’re proud of. That takes an intense amount of mental and physical dedication. To want to “get away” after this level of project is a natural human desire and is not a reflection of your passion for it. Just because you love it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t want to break from it.

Consider the next time you do something big – a project, a new adventure or something that has occupied a lot of your time – taking time off after it’s completed. And here’s the kicker, don’t feel guilty for doing it. When you step out of your daily routine to rest, and I mean leaving the laptop, phone, and email at home, you’re investing in your personal and professional growth. When you return, you’ll be sharper, rested and ready to tackle the next great idea that contributes to your ongoing success.

This article was originally published in GDUSA.

Creating a strong ‘office’ culture for remote workers

How the dispersed team at Student Loan Hero prioritizes communication and connection

Illustration by Josh Cochran

Andy Josuweit is the Austin, TX-based CEO you’re more likely to catch in a coffee shop than a corner office. The founder of Student Loan Hero, a solution for managing and repaying student loans, works remotely. And so do the 70 employees of his six-year-old company.

Josuweit graduated from college in 2009 during the recession and was unable to find work. Instead of heading down the classic cubicle-bound 9-to-5 career path, he found himself off to an internship in Africa, then Asia, to chase his entrepreneurial pursuits on a budget, followed by South America for an accelerator. “[Remote work] is all I know,” says Josuweit.

To keep everyone on the same page, Josuweit advises, “You really have to overemphasize the importance of communication. You need to figure out how you can create a safe environment to communicate and how you can allow for constructive confrontation and have healthy debates.”

He feels like this needs to be a priority because remote work diminishes access to nonverbal communication and provides limited opportunities to build rapport and trust with colleagues. “You don’t have the opportunities to sit down to lunch together or go out for happy hour with people.”

While Student Loan Hero does do two annual retreats to get their employees face-to-face, they’ve found an easy daily workaround for body language by using emojis and gifs “to share how we’re feeling on a deeper level.”

Jacy Cruz, who joined the company four months ago as their Customer Experience Manager, says sometimes she feels like she doesn’t use enough emojis. Cruz, who’d lobbied hard at her last company for more flexibility around working from home, did have some concern about going fully remote, “Because I’m shy and I thought that it was going to be even more difficult for people to get to know me.”

Fortunately, Student Loan Hero has several initiatives in place to foster connectedness. They have two all-company meetings each week. The Monday meeting is more business focused, but the Friday afternoon meeting is more laidback and functions as a “happy hour.” Colleagues can chat about their wins from the week and their plans for the weekend, just like they would on a Friday afternoon in the office.

Cruz also has her first Slack Donut bot chat coming up. The bot will do the work of pairing her with someone at random within her company for a 15 to 20-minute chat. Cruz likes this setup because she’s “not naturally inclined to reach out to people” she’s not working with directly.

But her favorite community building effort is the “Learning Rewards” program. The company has a pre-approved list of books they recommend employees read. Employees are encouraged to block out at least one hour on their calendar during the workweek to read and are rewarded with $15 for each hour they spend reading. “I love it because they recognize it’s a small amount of money for them to pay for their employees to do two things: One is to immediately begin applying whatever they’re learning to their jobs, but the second thing, that I think is actually more important, is to develop this habit, this thirst for learning.” Cruz continues, “And so many people are burnt out at work, what’s their incentive to go out and learn things unless it’s about trying to find a new job and get paid more.”

And what Student Loan Hero is doing is working. Shaun Moten, the HR Coordinator at Student Loan Hero who helps develop and manage employee culture, says, “Up until December of last year, we had a non-existent turnover rate. Then present day, we’ve had three employees to leave the company, so it’s still ridiculously low to have been around since 2012.”

Moten assists new hires in establishing a daily routine and conducts “stay interviews” to unearth and address any employee grievances early. For her, Student Loan Hero is “HR heaven.”

Josuweit, the CEO, predicts a more remote workforce will become the norm. “We’re going to see this demand in the workplace to create more work-life balance, or work-life integration. And I think remote work is somewhat inevitable. I think it’s kind of like fighting gravity.” But that doesn’t mean the future of work is without issue, says Josuweit. “It comes with its own unique challenges.” But for him and the entire team at Student Loan Hero, the extra effort is worth the reward.

Minda Honey hasn’t worked in a cubicle in a decade and consequently never worries her favorite stapler is going to go missing.
This article was originally posted by SlackHQ.

 

Snapchat, Instagram Stories, or Facebook Stories—Which is Right For You?

3 airplanes in the sky
Image via Mihai Surdu under CC0 1.0

It’s hard to remember a time before they were everywhere, but long ago in Internet time, there was only one name associated with disappearing video: Snapchat.

In 2016 (five years after Snapchat), Instagram got in on the game, adding Stories to their platform with filters, stickers, and text overlay. And in 2017, their parent company Facebook rolled out Stories of its own, with unique filters and the option to crosspost between platforms.

The videos may disappear, but the format is now everywhere, offering rapid-fire cycles of possibility. The only question that remains is, which platforms make the most sense for your brand?

Snapchat

It wins among younger audiences

Let’s start with the OG. Snapchat is beloved by users of all ages, but it’s especially popular with Generation ZSeventy-nine percent of US teens have a Snapchat account, and they rate Snapchat as their favorite platform.

Compare that to the two percent of Baby Boomers who use Snapchat, and this platform starts to look like the fountain of eternal youth. As other platforms struggle to hang on to their younger users, Snapchat is still growing in popularity with this demographic.

Its users are highly engaged

Snapchat users watch over 10 billion videos each day and send more than 3.5 billion Snaps. One hundred and eighty-seven million daily active users spend about half an hour each day on Snapchat, and open the app about 25 times per day.

It’s harder to use, but that makes it cooler

Part of the appeal of Snapchat is its secret-handshake nature—it can be deliberately confusing, but that’s why users love it. It also offers a lot of features, though they’re not always easy to find. But that means brands who can navigate the app acquire an instant cool factor. It’s kind of like getting your motorcycle license, but for social media.

It’s all about spontaneity

Snapchat’s ethos is authenticity and openness – compared to other platforms, it’s more spontaneous and raw. That’s what draws users in, especially younger audiences, who are resistant to traditional advertising methods.

As a result, brands who use Snapchat to go behind-the-scenes can build loyal followings from users who are as interested in people and process as they are in the finished product.

Everlane, an apparel startup committed to “radical transparency”, grew their audience through a conversational, candid Snap series called #TransparencyTuesdays, where they answered questions and shared product insights and previews.

And playfulness

Geofilters are custom frames that show up for users who take a Snap in a certain location—this can be an entire country, for major campaigns. They’re a major investment, with a price tag in the six figures, but country-wide Geofilters typically reach 40-60% of all daily Snapchat users, offering massive exposure.

Sponsored Lenses are face-altering filters that users can add to their Snaps, to share your branded content with their following. Taco Bell smashed records last year when they released a Cinco de Mayo filter that turned users into tacos, which was viewed 224 million times in a single day.

Brands that stand out on Snapchat find a way to harness the platform’s spirit of playfulness to capture users’ attention. I mean, who wouldn’t want to look like a taco? That’s part of the genius of Snapchat: to stand out, you just need a great idea that no one can resist.

Ads perform well

Snap Ads are sponsored, 10-second videos that appear in between Snaps—entice users to swipe up and view longer content or visit a website. Ads perform well on Snapchat, pulling in more visual attention than any other social media platform.

The timeline prioritizes friends over brands

In January 2018, Snapchat rolled out a major update that radically transformed the app.

And the reception has not always been warm. A tweet begging for its reversal has been retweeted more than 1.4 million times, and a petition to scrap it has a million signatures and counting. Despite the backlash, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel insists that the update is here to stay—so there’s no time like the present to leap in and learn to swim.

The biggest change for users: splitting Snaps into two feeds. Prior to the update, users could watch Snaps in one stream. Now, feeds are split into “Friends” (for users who follow you back) and “Discover” (for everyone else—including publishers, celebrities, and content creators).

What this means for companies is their Snaps will no longer appear in the same feed as their followers’ personal friends, likely resulting in less exposure. One way around this is to follow your audience back, but even then your Snaps will likely sink to the bottom of their feeds. The new Snapchat timeline is also algorithmic, pushing friends who interact frequently with a user to the top of their feed.

However, the update also came with a new opportunity for companies to share sponsored content, with Promoted Stories. These allow companies to push their Stories to more users and appear on the Discover screen, reaching new audiences beyond their followers.

Oh, and don’t worry about missing the opportunity to captivate audiences with your take on the taco filter. The update didn’t impact branded content like Geofilters and Sponsored Lenses, which will still reach users exactly the same way.

Instagram Stories

Contrary to stereotypes about middle children, the middle child of the disappearing stories family gets plenty of attention.

Instagram already had a massive user base in 2016, but Stories were like the Nos in The Fast & the Furious. When they launched, they gave users an incentive to check the platform daily and catch all those disappearing videos, increasing time spent on the app to around half an hour each day.

Users skew young, but not as young as Snapchat

More than 500 million Instagram users open the app every day, and 300 million of them are watching Stories daily. Like Snapchat, Instagram skews young—60 percent of users are under 30—but it also includes more older users as well, with one-third of 30-49 year olds using the app.

Instagram Stories share a lot in common with Snapchat Stories

After unveiling Stories, users and brands who had previously used Snapchat for candid videos and Instagram for curated content had both in one place. And brands had the same opportunity. Remember Everlane’s #TransparencyTuesdays? Those can now be found on their Instagram Stories.

Outdoor Voices, which makes workout clothes that fashionable people love, use their Stories to share videos of brand ambassadors #DoingThings outdoors, and approachable fitness tutorials that showcase products while inspiring followers to get active.

screenshots of Instagram stories by Outdoor Voices

Instagram Stories have a lot in common with Snapchat. They also offer face filters that can flatter you with Photoshop-like effects, or make you look like a sea witch or a bunny rabbit (to name a few). Users can also add stickers, text, and recently (to the great delight of the meme-loving masses) GIFs to their stories.

If you thought that a Story was good before, just wait until you add a dancing cat GIF to it.

They are sorted according to an algorithm

Stories from people and brands that users follow show up in a row at the top of the Home feed, sorted algorithmically. A “Discover” tab includes branded content and promoted stories, featuring trending content and videos tailored to users’ interests. As with Snapchat, brands can promote their stories or create ads to reach more users, as well as share all their Stories with their followers.

They can drive direct traffic

Instagram Stories also offer a few special features that set it apart. For instance, brands have the option of adding links to their Stories, which direct users to an external URL after they swipe up and provides a ton of opportunity to drive traffic and engagement. Prior to adding this feature, brands could only have one link in their bio, and couldn’t include functional links in the photos and videos posted to their feed.

They get engagement

Creating a Story is not only easy, but effective: one in five Stories generate a direct message from followers.

Stories also have the uniquely engaging “Polls” feature, which lets viewers vote between two options.

screenshot of an Instagram stories poll

Brands who excel at Stories know how to use these engaging features to keep users coming back – not just to watch, but to join in the conversation and feel like they’re part of an insider community.

The beauty startup Glossier built their following on Instagram by creating a mood board of images, each garnering thousands of likes, before they had even released their first product (they also raised $24 million dollars). They use Stories to engage with their followers, by offering sneak previews of new products, customer Q&As, and introducing the people behind the brand. But they also maintain their dreamy aesthetic, with Stories that are as Millennial-pink and Pinterest-worthy as their main feed, reinforcing their brand values of accessible beauty and casual luxury.

They have a non-disappearing option

“Story Highlights” allow users to pin Stories to the top of their feed. Unlike regular Stories, which disappear after a day as expected, these ones stick around for as long as they’re pinned.

Story Highlights are perfect for showing off your top performing Stories, latest products, biggest announcements, and the spirit of your brand.

screenshot of story highlights on Molly Yeh's Instagram profile

They can be viewed on desktop

Even though Instagram is designed for mobile use, users who are looking you up on their computers instead of their phones can now also watch your stories, effectively increasing visibility. You still can’t upload from the desktop version, but given Instagram’s track record of giving the people what they want, that may not be the case forever.

Facebook Stories

Facebook is the blue whale of social media platforms, with a staggering 1.4 billion (!) daily active users, and 2 billion monthly users. In the U.S., the number of adults on Facebook (68 percent) is about the same as Instagram (35 percent) and Snapchat (27 percent) combined.

Pew Research Centre graph depicting social media network users (Facebook has the most users)

Facebook launched their Stories in March 2017, replacing a similar feature called Messenger Day with a more obvious parallel to their Instagram offering.

The two platforms share more in common than just the name. Facebook Stories also mirrors the placement of Stories (above the main newsfeed) and the camera to record them (top-left corner). It’s instantly familiar for anyone who’s used Instagram. So it’s a bit surprising that it hasn’t quite taken off—yet.

Facebook has the largest audience

Facebook hasn’t yet released numbers for how many users are sharing and viewing Stories, but anyone who looks to see how many of their own friends are posting them will likely arrive at the same conclusion: it’s not nearly as popular as Instagram Stories.

The slow uptake might lie in Facebook’s audience demographics, and how they use the platform. Everyone really is on Facebook: 76 percent of teens (ages 12-19) have a profile, but so do 62 percent of their grandparents (adults over 65). As a result, some younger users think Facebook is for old people. They’re using it to message their friends and watch videos, but not to discover content or follow brands the way they do on other channels.

For older users, who are less likely to be on Instagram and Snapchat, the Stories format isn’t second nature. They may just not be creating and engaging with this form of content yet.

It’s a blank slate of potential for brands

Stories may be slower to take off on Facebook than they were on Instagram, but this platform has nothing but potential. It’s a blank slate with great opportunities – and Facebook has been clear that they’re committed to the success of Stories, so we can expect they’ll keep rolling out features to improve ease of use and visibility. And Company Pages only got access to Stories in October 2017, so it’s still a brand new field of dreams.

It’s not limited to one platform

Why should you be posting to Stories? For starters, Facebook has the best ROI of any social media platform, according to 96% of social marketers. Facebook Stories can be integrated with other high-performing ad opportunities on Facebook, like promoted videos and posts in the Newsfeed.

And since you can cross-post your Instagram Stories directly to Facebook Stories without any extra effort, why wouldn’t you? Cross-posting isn’t always a good idea, but given that your Stories will translate perfectly to each platform, it’s worth testing.

It’s an opportunity to bypass the algorithm

Facebook Stories also presents a new opportunity to bring users to your Page.
Many brands have noticed declining engagement since Facebook prioritized personal connections in their algorithm. But the Stories feed could be a way to reconnect with users who aren’t seeing your content in their Newsfeed the same way.

Your friends may not be posting there yet, but some companies are already using Facebook Stories with great results. Paddington 2, the surprisingly popular sequel to a movie about a bear in London, launched a Facebook Stories campaign with a Paddington filter that let viewers try on his stylish outfit (listen, a duffle coat and floppy hat counts as stylish for a bear, okay?)

Paddington 2 Facebook Story on mobile phone

Viewers also saw Stories of other Paddington characters, as well as iconic sets. This was a perfect fit for Facebook: a family-friendly movie on a multi-generational platform, showing off the most fun features in the app. The result: a three-point increase in awareness of the movie, and intention to watch.

Another example is Japan’s Kao beauty company, which used Stories as well as other Facebook ad placements to launch their Pyuan haircare line. Targeted to women in their 20s (the largest demographic on Facebook), Kao focused on short, high-quality videos tailored to the short attention spans and discerning tastes of their demographic. The strategy resulted in a 10-point increase in brand awareness.

There are opportunities for user-generated content

Facebook is determined to make their Stories more than just a clone of Instagram, and recently unveiled their first truly unique opportunity for brands to take advantage of the platform: Group Stories.

Group Stories allow anyone attending an event on Facebook to contribute to a Story roll, hosted on the Event page and visible in the Stories feed. Event administrators can moderate Stories and approve them. For companies concerned about the wild-west nature of other platforms, this is a reassuring mechanism. If your company hosts events, whether in person or virtually, Group Stories is a new opportunity to promote them and engage with your followers.

Which platform is right for you?

Keep your brand values and goals in mind: are you willing to be casual, informal, and offer candid insights? Do you prefer to keep things polished? Do you want to reach people of all ages? These questions can help you narrow down which Stories platform makes the most sense for you.

Also think about which features excite you most and fit the best with your content strategy. Do you want your audience to weigh in on new products? Try a poll in Instagram Stories. Hosting a launch party? Use Facebook’s Group Stories to engage attendees. Want to gain awareness among younger audiences? Try a Snapchat Sponsored Filter.

The important thing is to take advantage of the full menu of options when you try out a platform. Users get excited about new features as much as you do, so don’t leave them out when considering your strategy.

v Test out an idea on all three, and see where it performs best. Compare engagement rates and views. Many brands had success by rolling their Snapchat strategy over to Instagram, and others will find that cross-posting on Instagram and Facebook yields results.

Whatever you try, there’s one thing you should always keep in mind: users are savvy. If you make content that’s not true to your brand voice and identity, your followers will unfollow. Filters and stickers aside, videos let you build real connections with viewers and keep them engaged with authentic, insightful content.

Show off what makes your brand special and unique (you might surprise people!). That’s what your audience wants to see. Throwing a dancing cat GIF in the mix? That’s just the icing on the cake.

 

About the Author

Michelle Cyca is a writer, editor, and digital content strategist. Offline, she likes hefty magazines, public libraries, all-day breakfasts, and bike rides.

This article originally appeared on Hootsuite.

 

How 2 Students Created 10 pt, The Sustainable T-Shirt Package

10pt_key_visual.jpg

By: Casha Doemland

“I believe humans have been taking poor care of the planet lately,” begins Antonina Kozlova. “The amount of plastic waste is a huge problem, and everyone should start living and working more sustainably.”

To show her commitment to change, Kozlova teamed up with up fellow classmate Dohn Kanokpon and entered a sustainable competition, Better With Less.

This yearly competition kicks off in November and asks creative minds to produce a packaging design made from sustainable, renewable or recyclable materials. Dubbed the “open idea competition,” they “aim to find new solutions for some of the most frequently used consumer packages, to deliver better experiences with less impact on the environment.” Additionally, according to the website, “the use of mono-materials is preferred.”

The first prize winner receives a cash prize of €10,000 Euros, in addition to a student award for an internship at Metsä Board Packaging Services in Shanghai.

Since the event took place over the winter holiday, the duo collaborated via Facebook chat and email to produce not only the product but the graphic designs and branding as well. “We challenged ourselves to create a product with packaging that could be used,” shares Kanokpon.

Despite the time zone differences and working remotely, the duo came up with 10 pt, a sustainable solution to t-shirt packaging.

The design begins with vivid, cylindrical packaging in contrasting hues of blue, magenta, orange and/or tan. The cotton t-shirts are then rolled up and stored inside, offering a compact and eye-catching package.

Each tube is made like a spiral when reassembled, as the inside of each can features a black and white measuring tape. “We used mummies as our inspiration source,” adds  Kanokpon.

In keeping with their zero waste policy, Kanokpon and Kozlova designed the paper pulp caps to be a case for the measuring tape. All in all, the design features only 3% waste, which comes from the triangular piece of paper you have to tear off to get the measuring tape from the tube.

“The tube itself is made from 100% recycled paper, while the caps are made from molded pulp,” states Kozlova. If you don’t need the extra measuring tape, throw it away in the nearest recycling bin.

As innovative as their concept was, the duo did not make it into the top 10 finalists of the competition. But not to fret, Konokpon and Kozlova are still chugging away at their college courses and other projects. And, if the opportunity were to present itself, they would be thrilled to take 10 pt from concept to reality.


Casha_Headshot.png

Casha Doemland

LA-based and Georgia-bred, Casha Doemland spends her days crafting poetry and freelance writing. Over the last two years, she’s been published in a variety of publications and zines around the world. When she’s not nerding out with words, you can catch her watching a classic film, trekking around the globe or hanging out with a four-pound Pomeranian.

This article was originally published in Dieline.

 

How do you Know if Your Idea Sucks?

As designers, we face this challenge on every project. We fear going into presentations, because the ideas we gave birth to will face judgement. Somedays you feel like you’ve found a diamond in the rough. “I am a genius!”While other days, your ideas feel like garbage. “Why can’t I figure this out?”

 

Put it to the test

After working in the design industry for over a decade, I’ve come up with a formula to evaluate my own ideas. I ask myself these 3 questions at every stage in the design process.

Does it achieve the goal?
Is the information and story clear?
Is it interesting?

From the initial pitch, up to delivery day. I use this formula to test, filter, and refine my ideas. It gives me confidence that I’m delivering something of value to my clients, and the intended audience.

 

1. Does it achieve the goal?

At the beginning of the project, you established a clear goal. What this needs to do. Who it’s for. What they need to walk away with. This is the problem you’re trying to solve.

If you’re lacking clarity on what the goal is, stop designing. Go back to your client and diagnose the real problem. Dig in deep and ask clarifying questions. Surface the challenges getting in the way from your clients being able to achieve their goals.

You, as well as your client, will use this as a primary metric to evaluate your ideas. Your ideas aren’t viable solutions until they pass this first key test.

 

2. Is the Information and Story Clear?

Is the message coming through? Is the hierarchy of information in the right order? Does this make the audience feel something?

A great way to test this is to show your work to an outsider. Someone similar to your target audience. Without explaining much (other than context), what did they think your work was about? What did they read first, second, third? How did it make them feel?

If your audience isn’t getting what you intended, chances are your you’re trying to say too many things or your message is buried too deep. Go back to your goal. Edit and simplify. Make sure your fundamental message resonates. If it doesn’t pass this second test, whatever you’re designing will be ineffective.

 

3. Is it interesting?

Does it prompt you to think? Does it challenge you? Are you connecting two disparate ideas to create a new meaning?

If you’ve passed the first two tests, your idea has addressed the challenge. For conservative projects, that’s all it needs to do. Congrats! But in the field of design, marketing, and advertising, we’re challenged to do more. To cut through the noise and grab attention. To instill desire and build intent. To recruit our audiences to act.

What I’ve come to learn is that the most creative ideas are the ones that surprise you. In Chris Do’s article, “Can Creativity be Taught?”, he sums it up nicely:

“To me, creativity is the ability to connect two or more disparate ideas to create new meaning. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”

Here are a few great examples that demonstrate this idea:

 

The next time you’re on the fence about your ideas, test it with these 3 questions. It should save you time, cut through the fat, and help your course-correct when you’re lost.

 

About the Author

Matthew Encina is a creative director at Blind, focusing on brand strategy and video content. He also authors content on pitching, design, and animation forThe Futur Network.

Follow him everywhere @matthewencina

This article was originally posted on Medium.

For those of you who have to pitch creative ideas to win business, but are struggling to land these opportunities, check out The Pitch Kit. I created this for those seeking clarity and structure in their design and pitch process.

8 Social Media Predictions for 2018

Forecasting an Ever-Changing Industry

By Cyndi Pérez

As 2017 comes to a close, here are our forecasts for social media trends in the next year.

  1. IoT Integration
    Alexa, search ___ on Facebook.” Stalk your ex through Alexa, Google Home, or Echo. Just kidding! We predict social integrations — regardless of Amazon, Google, and Facebook being competitors.
  2. Personalized Automation
    Everyone can bot, but personalizing the automation is key. It can range from product recommendations based on past purchases, or personalizing the customer journey. Our advice: analyze the customer journey and use data to curate your customer’s experience on social.
  3. Actionable Data
    Leveraging social insights to create more effective campaigns. Find out how we helped Stockpile beat benchmarks in fintech by leveraging social insights here.
  4. More Paid Social
    Facebook earned over $9 billion in ad revenue in by Q2 this year alone. Social media ad spend has increased 23.2% since 2013. In the US alone, it’s expected to increase to 17.3B by 2019. Most brands from Proctor & Gamble™ to Adidas are on social and utilizing the sophisticated targeting options to develop relationships with their customer base or increase brand affinity. If brands aren’t already investing on social, 2018 will be the year they do so (before costs rise even further!).
  5. Artificial Intelligence
    More brands are experimenting with bots than ever, from Whole Foods and Sephora to Lyft and Starbucks. With the rise of more user-friendly software, some social platforms don’t necessarily require developers to create the automated bots. We expect this to continue.
  6. Algorithmic Changes
    How many times did Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram alter their algorithms this year alone? Prepare for more algorithmic changes to Facebook’s and Instagram’s Newsfeeds.
  7. Influencer Crackdown
    We will see a rise of #ad transparency among any influencers on social. Competent influencers (read: the ones to work with) will demonstrate working knowledge of FCC guidelines.
  8. Platform Evolution
    Platforms will learn (see: AI and Algorithmic Changes) and evolve to keep their user bases engaged. Snapchat should continue to test new features, though Spectacles — their wireless camera sunglasses — was a bust. Facebook Workplace is competing with Slack. Pinterest introduced SEO best practices for pins. The common denominator: all platforms are experimenting with an “explore” feature that allows users to find more interesting, relevant content (and algorithms to learn more about its user base). Consequently, brands will need to adapt.

This post originally appeared as a blog with Zooka Creative.

Hear from Steve Decker, Zooka’s head honcho at the VMA Design Conference, June 15, as part of AIGA’s SF Design Week.

Hack. Hustle. Design.

Zooka Creative Gives Back

By Jeffrey Heid

Hack. Hustle. Design. Streetcode Academy believes these are the key components for a wider, better future. A future that doesn’t just include the rich, fortunate, digital native, uber-educated, English speaker, or people of specific color born in certain places.

These components are meant to invite every person to seek a greater future.

That’s why on July 21st, we invited Streetcode to bring their students to Zooka and learn the what’s, why’s and how’s of an ad agency in the 21st Century.

Streetcode Academy recognizes, diagnoses, and occupies the distinct lack of accessible high-tech training for youth and young adults in communities of color. They combat this by offering free, high-quality tech education classes in coding, entrepreneurship, and creativity.

Hack. Hustle. Design.

We wished to give back to those communities and help Steetcode in their mission.

From young children to ESL adults, dozens of eager faces attended several mini-classes created by our different departments.

Our designers, led by Art Director Sean Lopez, gave quick lessons on design principles, walking students through the design process of a sample logo we created just for them.

This process includes the often painful step of eliminating weaker ideas to discover what’s strongest.

Our virtual reality team described the unique potential of VR, giving everyone the chance to walk the virtual plank of our mixed reality experience.

Over the course of the afternoon, our visitors learned about everything from design and VR, to content and social media, to branding and web development.

Many asked smart, thoughtful questions about our processes and strategy. Some told stories about their struggles with the quickly and ceaselessly changing landscape of technology.

But everyone left with smiles and the hope for a better, brighter future.

 

This post originally appeared as a blog with Zooka Creative.

Hear from Steve Decker, Zooka’s head honcho at the VMA Design Conference, June 15, as part of AIGA’s SF Design Week.

Cooper Hewitt Names Ten Winners Across Disciplines in National Design Awards

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Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has named the winners of the 2018 National Design Awards, recognizing design excellence and innovation in 10 categories. The annual program promotes design as a vital humanistic tool in shaping the world and is accompanied by extensive educational programs in cities nationwide. “All ten of this year’s winners present a powerful design perspective and body of work that is at once inclusive and deeply personal, accompanied by great achievement, humanity and social impact,” said Caroline Baumann, director of Cooper Hewitt.

School of Visual Arts posters for the New York City subway, designed using a quote supplied by the collegeís executive vice president, Anthony P. Rhodes, to celebrate President Obamaís call to greatness (New York, New York, 2009). Project partner: Terry Allen (illustrator). Photo: Courtesy of Gail Anderson
School of Visual Arts posters for the New York City subway, designed using a quote supplied by the college’s executive vice president, Anthony P. Rhodes, to celebrate President Obama’s call to greatness (New York, New York, 2009). Project partner: Terry Allen (illustrator). Photo: Courtesy of Gail Anderson

 

Anderson has coauthored thirteen books with design historian Steven Heller, including Type Tells Tales, The Graphic Design Idea Book, New Vintage Type, and the upcoming Type Speaks. Photo: Courtesy of Gail Anderson
Anderson has coauthored thirteen books with design historian Steven Heller, including Type Tells Tales, The Graphic Design Idea Book, New Vintage Type, and the upcoming Type Speaks. Photo: Courtesy of Gail Anderson

Of particular note to the graphic design community, Gail Anderson is recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Currently creative director at Visual Arts Press, SVA’s inhouse design studio, and a partner at Anderson Newton Design, Anderson has excelled as a designer, writer and educator, co-authored 14 books on design and popular culture, lectured internationally, and received numerous awards from the likes of AIGA, Society of Illustrators, Society of Publication Designers, Type Directors Club, Art Directors Club, Graphis, and Communication Arts. In addition, her work is included in the permanent collections of the Cooper Hewitt, Library of Congress, and the Milton Glaser Design Archives at SVA. She has been featured in magazines that include Computer Arts (UK), designNET (Korea), kAk (Russia), and on the January 2010 cover of GDUSA.

United States Postal Service postage stamp, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The final stamp was laid out at Americaís oldest working letterpress, Hatch Show Print, using period-appropriate typefaces (2013). Project partners: Antonio Alcal· (art director); Jim Sherraden (printer). Photo: Courtesy of Gail Anderson
United States Postal Service postage stamp, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The final stamp was laid out at Americaís oldest working letterpress, Hatch Show Print, using period-appropriate typefaces (2013). Project partners: Antonio Alcal· (art director); Jim Sherraden (printer). Photo: Courtesy of Gail Anderson

 

Spread from Cash, a book designed by Andersonís team at SpotCo for Jason Fine at Rolling Stone shortly after Johnny Cashís passing. Project partners: the Cash family, Sam Eckersley, Bashan Aquart, Darren Cox, Jessica Disbrow, editors and writers from Rolling Stone. Published by Crown Publishers (2004).
Spread from Cash, a book designed by Andersonís team at SpotCo for Jason Fine at Rolling Stone shortly after Johnny Cashís passing. Project partners: the Cash family, Sam Eckersley, Bashan Aquart, Darren Cox, Jessica Disbrow, editors and writers from Rolling Stone. Published by Crown Publishers (2004).

Pictured Top: Spread from Rolling Stone celebrating a young Chris Rock in full Jimi Hendrix mode, one of close to 500 feature stories and 300 covers Anderson worked on during her 14 years at the magazine under art director Fred Woodward (October 2, 1997). Project partner: Mark Seliger (photographer). Photo: Courtesy of Gail Anderson

In addition to Anderson, the National Design Awards winners are:

Communication Design: Civilization

Civilization was founded by Michael Ellsworth, Corey Gutch and Gabriel Stromberg in Seattle. Since the studio’s inception in 2007, it has built identity systems, digital experiences, printed materials, environmental graphics and exhibitions that are engaging , empathetic, sustainable and create meaningful connection.

Take Action poster series wheatpasted around cities nationwide. Available for download from the Shout Your Abortion website (2016). Photo: Courtesy of Civilization
Take Action poster series wheatpasted around cities nationwide. Available for download from the Shout Your Abortion website (2016). Photo: Courtesy of Civilization

 

Social Medium exhibition identity at the Frye Museum (Seattle, Washington, 2014). Photo: Courtesy of Civilization
Social Medium exhibition identity at the Frye Museum (Seattle, Washington, 2014). Photo: Courtesy of Civilization

Design Mind: Anne Whiston Spirn

Spirn is an award-winning author, landscape architect, photographer and the Cecil and Ida Green Distinguished Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning at MIT in Cambridge MA. Her writings and action research provoke the integration of city and nature, advancing design theory and practice, and transforming how people see and act.

The Granite Garden, a book that ìtouched off the ecological urbanism movement,î according to the American Planning Association, which lists it as one of the most important books of the past century. The book presents, synthesizes, and applies knowledge from many disciplines to show how cities are part of the natural world and to demonstrate how they can be planned and designed in concert with natural processes rather than in conflict (1984, Basic Books; e-version, expected 2019).
The Granite Garden, a book that touched off the ecological urbanism movement, according to the American Planning Association, which lists it as one of the most important books of the past century. The book presents, synthesizes, and applies knowledge from many disciplines to show how cities are part of the natural world and to demonstrate how they can be planned and designed in concert with natural processes rather than in conflict (1984, Basic Books; e-version, expected 2019).

 

Stills from Buried River, Opened Lives: Reflections on People, Place, and Practice, a series of short multimedia videos where Spirn served as the director and in which participants in the West Philadelphia Landscape Project tell their own stories: reflecting on then and now, and on the impact the project has had on their lives (2013-2014). Photo: Courtesy of Anne Whiston Spirn
Stills from Buried River, Opened Lives: Reflections on People, Place, and Practice, a series of short multimedia videos where Spirn served as the director and in which participants in the West Philadelphia Landscape Project tell their own stories: reflecting on then and now, and on the impact the project has had on their lives (2013-2014). Photo: Courtesy of Anne Whiston Spirn

 

Architecture Design: Weiss/Manfredi

Founded by Marion Weiss and Michael A. Manfredi, the firm seeks to expand the territory of architecture by connecting landscape, art, infrastructure and architecture. The firm’s projects, including the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park, Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Visitor Center, Penn’s Nanotechnology Center, Cornell Tech’s Tata Innovation and the US Embassy in New Delhi, fuse architecture and nature.

Seattle Art Museum: Olympic Sculpture Park integrates art, architecture, infrastructure, and ecology in a new model for urban sculpture park. The continuous landform connects a museum pavilion, two bridges, site specific collaborations with world renowned artists, and a waterfront beach with a restored salmon habitat (Seattle, Washington, 2007). Photo: Benjamin Benschneider
Seattle Art Museum: Olympic Sculpture Park integrates art, architecture, infrastructure, and ecology in a new model for urban sculpture park. The continuous landform connects a museum pavilion, two bridges, site specific collaborations with world renowned artists, and a waterfront beach with a restored salmon habitat (Seattle, Washington, 2007). Photo: Benjamin Benschneider

 

Barnard College Diana Center, a creative arts building that links a series of diagonally interconnected double-height public spaces. Extending the campus lawn upward through the building, the Diana Center creates a luminous lens on the campus and the city (New York, New York, 2010). Photo: Albert Ve?erka/Esto
Barnard College Diana Center, a creative arts building that links a series of diagonally interconnected double-height public spaces. Extending the campus lawn upward through the building, the Diana Center creates a luminous lens on the campus and the city (New York, New York, 2010). Photo: Albert Ve?erka/Esto

Fashion Design: Christina Kim

Kim is the co-founder and designer of dosa, an LA-based clothing, accessories and housewares company with a focus on rethinking conventional fashion-industry production and sustaining artisan cultures. In-house production enables an evolving system for efficient use of natural resources, recycling and creative reuse. Kim draws on traditional handwork techniques, particularly in India, Mexico and Colombia, engaging local artisans and communities in long-term collaborations.

dosa x We Kiss, an installation of We Kiss shawls and handmade pieces in a range of pinks at Tiina the Store (Amagansett, New York, 2017). Project partners: Tiina Laakkonen; Kathy Klein. Photo: Tiina Laakonen
dosa x We Kiss, an installation of We Kiss shawls and handmade pieces in a range of pinks at Tiina the Store (Amagansett, New York, 2017). Project partners: Tiina Laakkonen; Kathy Klein. Photo: Tiina Laakonen

 

Life of Jamdani, 5% waste Indian muslin textile making (India and Los Angeles, California, 2003ñongoing). Project partners: Rajka Designs; Devi Export. Photo: Mark Schooley
Life of Jamdani, 5% waste Indian muslin textile making (India and Los Angeles, California, 2003–ongoing). Project partners: Rajka Designs; Devi Export. Photo: Mark Schooley

Interaction Design: Neri Oxman

Oxman is an architect, designer, inventor and professor at MIT, where she is the founding director of The Mediated Matter Group, an experimental design practice. The group combines commissioned work with scientific research, exploring ways in which digital design and production techniques can enhance the relationship between built and natural environments, operating at the intersection of computational design, robotic fabrication, materials engineering and synthetic biology.

Fiber Pavilion, a prototype structure autonomously fabricated by 16 fiber winding robots over the course of two days at the MIT Media Lab (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2017). In collaboration with The Mediated Matter Group, MIT Media Lab. Photo: Courtesy of Neri Oxman and The Mediated Matter Group
Fiber Pavilion, a prototype structure autonomously fabricated by 16 fiber winding robots over the course of two days at the MIT Media Lab (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2017). In collaboration with The Mediated Matter Group, MIT Media Lab. Photo: Courtesy of Neri Oxman and The Mediated Matter Group

 

Mushtari, a 3D printed wearable that can change color, create food, and produce biological tissues, such as insulation for the body, designed to enable human survival on distant planets and environments. Part of the Wanderers series, the wearable skin combines a continuous internal network of biocompatible fluidic channels with variable optical transparency through the use of bitmap-based multi-material additive manufacturing (2015). Project partners: The Mediated Matter Group, MIT Media Lab; Stratasys, Ltd. Photo: Yoram Reshef. Courtesy of Neri Oxman and The Mediated Matter Group
Mushtari, a 3D printed wearable that can change color, create food, and produce biological tissues, such as insulation for the body, designed to enable human survival on distant planets and environments. Part of the Wanderers series, the wearable skin combines a continuous internal network of biocompatible fluidic channels with variable optical transparency through the use of bitmap-based multi-material additive manufacturing (2015). Project partners: The Mediated Matter Group, MIT Media Lab; Stratasys, Ltd. Photo: Yoram Reshef. Courtesy of Neri Oxman and The Mediated Matter Group

Interior Design: Oppenheim Architecture + Design

Founded in 1999 by Chad Oppenheim, Oppenheim Architecture + Design is an architecture, planning and interior design firm specializing in hospitality, commercial and mixed-use, retail and residential buildings worldwide. The firm creates spaces that evoke the senses, catering to both pleasure and performance. Inspiration is drawn from vernacular styles and local resources are asserted with minimal gesture.

ENEA Headquarters, designed to demonstrate respect towards the elements of nature at the site (Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland, 2010). Photo: Martin R¸tschi
ENEA Headquarters, designed to demonstrate respect towards the elements of nature at the site (Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland, 2010). Photo: Martin R¸tschi

 

La Muna, a private residence with minimal impact on natural resources that effortlessly merges with its surroundings (Aspen, Colorado, 2011). Photo: Laziz Hamani
La Muna, a private residence with minimal impact on natural resources that effortlessly merges with its surroundings (Aspen, Colorado, 2011). Photo: Laziz Hamani

Landscape Architecture: Mikyoung Kim Design

Kim is the founding principal of Mikyoung Kim Design, an international landscape architecture and urban design firm. Over the past two decades, the firm has crafted an award-winning body of work that redefines the discipline of landscape architecture and inhabits the intersection of art and science. Its projects solve challenging urban resiliency issues while always considering the unique character of place making.

Farrar Pond Garden, situated within a three-acre native hardwood forest overlooking Farrar Pond. The design seeks to harmonize contemporary materials and design elements with a native plant palette and natural kettle and kame geology. The sculptural Cor-Ten fence flows through openings in the forest, both defining and blurring boundaries (Lincoln, Massachusetts, 2009). Project partner: Schwartz Silver Architects. Photo: Christopher Baker
Farrar Pond Garden, situated within a three-acre native hardwood forest overlooking Farrar Pond. The design seeks to harmonize contemporary materials and design elements with a native plant palette and natural kettle and kame geology. The sculptural Cor-Ten fence flows through openings in the forest, both defining and blurring boundaries (Lincoln, Massachusetts, 2009). Project partner: Schwartz Silver Architects. Photo: Christopher Baker

 

ChonGae River Restoration Project, a regenerative, seven-mile green corridor provides resiliency to the hydrological systems of the city. The river source point is a symbolic cultural representation of the future reunification of North and South Korea within a highly active public plaza, framed by local stone from each of the nine provinces of North and South Korea (Seoul, Korea, 2009). Project partner: SeoAhn Total Landscape. Photo: Robert Such
ChonGae River Restoration Project, a regenerative, seven-mile green corridor provides resiliency to the hydrological systems of the city. The river source point is a symbolic cultural representation of the future reunification of North and South Korea within a highly active public plaza, framed by local stone from each of the nine provinces of North and South Korea (Seoul, Korea, 2009). Project partner: SeoAhn Total Landscape. Photo: Robert Such

Product Design: Blu Dot

Blu Dot was founded in 1997 by friends John Christakos, Maruice Blanks and Charlie Lazor. Their mission is to design and manufacture furniture that is useful, affordable and brings good design to as many people as possible. Recognized for its inventive use of materials, fabrication technology and assembly methods, Blu Dot produces furniture that is determined by an economy of means while maintaining a playful sensibility.

Dang Collection, contemporary consoles and media stands featuring perforated steel door fronts that enable the use of remotes without compromising the design (Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2011). Photo: Dan Monick
Dang Collection, contemporary consoles and media stands featuring perforated steel door fronts that enable the use of remotes without compromising the design (Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2011). Photo: Dan Monick

 

Hot Mesh Chair, featuring powder-coated steel that creates a bold graphic pattern inspired by handwoven rattan and a simple, stackable tubular frame that maintains the clarity of form (Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2012). Photo: Dan Monick
Hot Mesh Chair, featuring powder-coated steel that creates a bold graphic pattern inspired by handwoven rattan and a simple, stackable tubular frame that maintains the clarity of form (Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2012). Photo: Dan Monick

Corporate & Institutional Achievement: Design for America

Design for America is a national network of innovators working together to improve their local communities through design. Begun as the brainchild of Northwestern University faculty member Liz Gerber, Gerber saw how design could be used to bring new solutions to seemingly intractable social issues. The network has tackled hundreds of challenges, ranging from accessible health care to drinkable water, and has inspired students, educators and design professionals across the country.

Jerry the Bear, an interactive companion to help children with type 1 diabetes understand how to take ownership of a complex disease. The idea was developed by Aaron Horowitz and Hannah Chung while students in Design for America at Northwestern in response to a DFA project focused on children with type 1 diabetes. Jerry comes with eight injection sites, a sticker to attach a virtual insulin pump, and educational augmented reality games to play on a free mobile application (2009–present). Project partner: Sproutel. Photo: Courtesy of Sproutel
Jerry the Bear, an interactive companion to help children with type 1 diabetes understand how to take ownership of a complex disease. The idea was developed by Aaron Horowitz and Hannah Chung while students in Design for America at Northwestern in response to a DFA project focused on children with type 1 diabetes. Jerry comes with eight injection sites, a sticker to attach a virtual insulin pump, and educational augmented reality games to play on a free mobile application (2009–present). Project partner: Sproutel. Photo: Courtesy of Sproutel

 

Illumiloon, a low-tech, floating communication device that shows a signal for help without power or the Internet. The project was designed by students in the Design for America studio at Yale in response to Hurricane Sandy and Blizzard Nemo to address the social challenges around natural disasters (New Haven, Connecticut, 2014ñpresent). Project partners: Federal Emergency Management Agency; Field Innovation Team. Photo: Courtesy of Illumiloon
Illumiloon, a low-tech, floating communication device that shows a signal for help without power or the Internet. The project was designed by students in the Design for America studio at Yale in response to Hurricane Sandy and Blizzard Nemo to address the social challenges around natural disasters (New Haven, Connecticut, 2014ñpresent). Project partners: Federal Emergency Management Agency; Field Innovation Team. Photo: Courtesy of Illumiloon.

This article originally appeared in GDUSA.

“Neo mint” will be the color of 2020 says forecasters

Trend forecasting service WGSN has revealed that a pastel shade of green, coined “neo mint”, will dominate the worlds of fashion and interiors in 2020.According to the trend forecaster, which is headquartered in London, neo mint is a gender-neutral color with “an oxygenating, fresh tone that aligns science and technology with nature”.

Neo mint is a tone of green, similar to the one used in this Japanese acupuncture clinic by id inc in Tokyo. Photograph is by id inc

The color was picked by WGSN‘s team of forecasters following extensive research that included observing street fashion, big data, current affairs and social media.

“What is becoming clear is the importance of neo mint – a shade that succinctly aligns futuristic development with nature,” WGSN’s color director Jane Monnington Boddy told Dezeen.

Events slated to take place in 2020 – including the completion of the world’s tallest building in Saudi Arabia; the start of NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover mission; and the introduction of Uber’s flying taxis – helped the team to pinpoint neo mint as an important color for the dawn of the next decade.

Perforated cladding in a neo mint shade wraps this university science institute by Cláudio VilarinhoPhotography is by Joao Morgado

Telling Dezeen about the process of composing a color forecast, Monnington Boddy explained how data harvested from online retailers is used in tandem with images posted on social media.

“Our retail analytics division, WGSN Instock, can track the sales of online retailers and analyze which colors are selling well,” she explained to Dezeen.

“We’re also trying to use social media as a vehicle to find out what’s happening in colour. In the past we used to go out on the street and look at what people are wearing, which we still do, but now we also look at influencers on Instagram.”

WGSN tracks the evolution of color trends

Color trends, Monnington Boddy said, have a trickle-down effect. What is seen at an interior during the Salone del Mobile in Milan, or on the catwalk during global fashion weeks may not hit the high street for another couple of years.

Similarly, WGSN believes that the current political climate and images seen on the news can influence the colors we wear, with the popularity of the color red on the autumn and winter catwalks in 2017 a result of the 2017 Women’s March.

“I’ve already seen neo mint popping up in younger fashion-forward brands, and in a few more years time it will start to filter into high street stores. Like all trends, it will evolve and grow,” she continued.

 

Five Metrics That Prove Social Media Is Working For Your Business

by Matthew Goulart. Founder of Ignite Digitial, an experience-driven digital agency.

If you aren’t using social media for your business, you’re doing something wrong. To put it into perspective, Statista reported that of the 3.17 billion people using the internet, 2.3 billion are active social media users. In other words, if your business isn’t using social media as a marketing tactic, you’re limiting your potential reach.

However, simply creating an account on the most popular social media platforms won’t instantly move you out of the fools’ category. Social media marketing takes strategy, persistence, time, effort and measurement. To ensure your social media efforts are paying off, and more importantly, to determine which tactics work and bring the highest ROI, here are five key metrics to watch closely.

Conversions

Every company wants to see conversions. Whether it’s direct marketing or social media marketing, if it doesn’t convert, it has no purpose. While this point can be argued when it comes to social media, there is no denying that conversions are still a top priority. Conversions show the number of people who took the extra step and entered your sales funnel via your social media page. This can be gauged by tracking website traffic, online sales, registrations completed, subscription forms submitted, etc.

To convert, you must first have effective calls-to-action to entice your audience and get them engaged with your content. Then you need to use an analytics tool, such as Google Analytics to track and monitor their engagement. Once integrated into your website, you can see how many people reached your website via your social media and what kind of social media content is bringing in the highest conversions.

Search Volume

What better way to determine if your social media marketing strategy is working than using search volume metrics? Search volume allows you to see how many people are searching for your company on search engines. This is an important tactic because you’ll be creating an online presence, and as a result, consumers will be searching for your company online. Search Engine Land reported that 85% of consumers have used the internet to find local businesses. Therefore, if you aren’t seeing a spike in searches for your company, your social media marketing strategy needs to be revised.

There are various tools you can use to track search volume, with Google offering some of the best. Google Analytics and Google Trends are two tools that can monitor the changes in search volumes. These tools can provide you with valuable knowledge on how to engage customers better, as they also analyze your direct competitors and compare their results with yours.

Brand Presence, Image And Engagement

We can’t say it enough: Simply having a social media account won’t get you the results you’re after. In order to capitalize on these modern-day marketing tools, you need to learn how to use them to build a strong online presence in order to further engage with your customers. The secret to social media is to connect with your consumers on a personal level. By doing so, you can build trust and loyalty, brand your company’s image, and ultimately, increase engagement.

Furthermore, not all interactions are positive and you need a strategy to address negative feedback. In order to do that, you need to have a tool to track the remarks, comments and statuses on social media that could tarnish your brand. Tools such as Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, Google’s Me on the Web Tool, and Social Mention allow you to monitor your online reputation in seconds. Some will also send you notifications when a certain keyword is associated with your company, such as scam or fraud.

Followers And Likes

One of the easiest ways to keep track of your social media marketing is by checking your number of followers and likes. If you have a high number of followers and they’re consistently growing, your social media campaign is essentially working. However, it’s just as important to monitor the number of likes your content garners to ensure your followers are also interacting with your brand.

Scanning through every single one of your social media posts on a regular basis just to measure likes can be a daunting task. Instead, there are analytic tools provided by the platforms that do this for you. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all offer analytics right on each platform. However, you can also use third-party tools such as the Epoxy app, Klout widget or Social Blue Book website to track your followers, likes and social media presence as a whole.

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Return On Investment

The best thing about social media marketing is that you don’t have to spend a dime to see a return on investment. It’ll take time and effort, but it can be a cost-efficient marketing tool. You can complement your time and effort with paid advertisements or by hiring a social media marketer to capitalize using your social media strategy. Either way, whether time or money spent, you want to make sure it’s worth it.

Tools such as Kissmetrics, Google Analytics and the analytics tools provided by social media platforms are excellent for monitoring ROI. These systems will show you data such as which social media campaigns are the most profitable, which social media ads perform best, which individuals or group of individuals convert, and much more. As such, you’ll be able to invest your time and/or money more strategically moving forward.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn – there certainly is not a shortage of social media platforms to choose from. As a rule of thumb, pick from the most popular and the ones specific to your niche. If your business is highly visual, use visual-focused platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest. If your content is based on text, Facebook and Twitter may be the better option. Then implement a strategy that incorporates these five key metrics to ensure your social media tactics are as powerful as they can be.

PR, media strategy, creative & advertising execs share trends & tips Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.