7 Tactics for Repurposing Content on Social Media

If digital content marketing is in your tactical arsenal, you know that developing fresh subject matter can be challenging. Thankfully, by repurposing content that is proven to be successful, we can cut down time while maintaining or even increasing engagement. The following are 7 unique ways to repurpose successful social media posts for your school or brand.

 

1. Find and Create Evergreen content

Evergreen content is essentially content that doesn’t lose its value over time. It stays fresh for consumers, and when an individual encounters the content in their feed, it won’t feel stale or dated. The first step in successful content repurposing is finding and creating evergreen content.  A few examples are:

  • Lists
  • Top tips
  • Instructional “how -to” tutorials
  • Encyclopedia-esque entries
  • Product reviews
  • Videos

In academia, it’s easy to pinpoint information that will have a long lifespan. Educational topics rarely lose their value and can be repurposed many times over. Scan through the backend of Facebook and check to see which posts you’ve published that could have a maximum potential repurposing value. Shy away from anything related to news pegs, outdated statistics, or trends. When building out content for future use, it’s important to keep the evergreen mentality in mind and think ahead of the recyclability of posts that you create.

 

2. News Pegs

Consolidating stories on social media is a fairly straightforward task when dealing with a university and/or academic program. Course curriculum and program themes construct a natural skeleton to build content around. Take, for example, a master’s in criminal justice degree. Reoccurring topics may include policing, crime scene identification, and the US correctional industry. I run into reoccurring themes like these many times when promoting an academic social media account. These themes aren’t only applicable to the internal narrative of a university but also to stories outside of the school’s domain. Connecting relevant topics to trending news stories can be a great way to latch onto existing exposure. When you find a story that could apply to your brand, it’s critical to think of a unique angle to stand out from the masses.

 

3. Visualizations

Whether it’s a simple student quote or a research-based infographic, most academic literature can easily be converted into visually appealing media. Using sites like canva and unstock editor, you can create simple social graphics without the need of an extensive design background. Keep it minimal and clean and consider using campus images or other branded media you may have in a portfolio. It’s proven that Facebook posts generate 84% more click-throughs when they have an image. By converting simple text into a visual format, you can also capitalize on posting through instagram.

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Another way to take advantage of already-existing social media posts is by converting content into an infographic. If you’ve listed any tips or relevant industry information you can use canva’s infographic maker to easily organize them into a sharable infographic.

“Infographics make complex information eye catching, shareable and easily digestible. They can help boost engagement on your social media profiles, make your presentations more interesting and transform your marketing materials to have greater impact.” –Canva

4. Facebook Live

Live video streaming on mobile devices is expected to grow by 39 times in the next five years. Facebook Live is at the forefront of this burgeoning market. Thinking of ways to incorporate live video is going to be a tremendously popular marketing trend moving into 2017, and brands need to start capitalizing. For universities and their programs, think campus tours, live lectures, or even athletic events. When it comes to repurposing existing content, twitter AMA’s featuring professors could be easily repeated or tweaked for Facebook live. Including an admissions AMA where prospective students can find out more about a school they are interested in is another valuable strategy. The key here is personalization. Being able to see a face, rather than text coming from a brand and a logo, makes a big difference. Students and fans alike can make a better connection this way. Additionally, Facebook live videos seem to break through the organic barrier much better than other posts. Facebook is pushing people to really use the platform, so this is a major benefit at the moment.

 

5. LinkedIn Pulse Publisher

Launched in 2015, LinkedIn Pulse is a publishing platform that showcases roughly 130,000 unique articles every week. It’s one of Linkedin’s fastest growing products. Publishing to pulse is easy. Simply find a successful post you’ve already published on a social channel, preferably some sort of long-form content like an article or academic research, and then upload it to the Linkedin publisher. It’s important to note that you must have an external blog connected to your school/program in order to be considered a publisher on Linkedin. For a full list of requirements needed to publish on Linkedin Pulse, see a step-bystep guide here. Don’t forget to use canva for a catchy cover image.

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6. Upload YouTube videos to Facebook

Many marketers think of YouTube as the primary frontier for video marketing. However, Facebook video has considerably grown over the past three years. Zuckerberg is challenging the video throne. Facebook now serves over 8 billion unique video views per day. These videos generate 135% greater organic traffic than photo posts. If you already have video multimedia at your disposal, uploading it to multiple channels like Facebook is an easy decision to make. Video examples for universities might include alumni interviews, professor highlights, course descriptions, or campus tours. When I mention uploading YouTube videos to Facebook, it’s important to note that I’m not talking about posting the YouTube link. Video that is uploaded to Facebook directly plays natively and reaches 2X more people, resulting in 2X more likes, 3X more shares, and 7X more comments than a posted link.

 

7. Compile Tweets into Twitter Moments

Twitter moments were released to the public in November of 2016. They represent “the very best of what’s happening on Twitter” (their words) by compiling collections of tweets about a specific topic in one place. Creating a moment is simple and the link to do so can be found on your Twitter profile dashboard.

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After you click the “Create new Moment” button, you’ll be prompted to enter an eye-catching title and description, along with a cover photo. After you’ve decided on a cohesive theme to guide your moment, you can scroll down and select historically posted tweets to add that fall in line with the story you’re trying to create. If you want to further customize your moment, click the “…More” button in the top left corner.

 

Jordan Opel

Jordan Opel is an accomplished, creative professional. He is responsible for managing and enhancing organic social media activities for our various clients. Additionally, as the leading graphic designer, he contributes to a significant portion of Circa Interactive’s creative endeavors through motion-media design, illustration, and content-creation experience.

 

 

21 Tips for Improved Facebook Page Engagement

You’ve already established an attractive Facebook following. Now you just have to funnel them to your website and landing page. But before you start begging your followers to click through, it’s important to create a well-rounded approach and connect with your audience so you can really make the most of your Facebook page. For the sake of degree programs, especially those online, maintaining a strong social media presence can be vital for success. A large majority of this youthful audience will likely be using Facebook multiple times per day. The following are a few of my favorite tips for improved Facebook page engagement:

 

1. Never publish a post without images

Include images in every Facebook post. Text doesn’t grab someone’s attention nearly as well as an image does. Facebook posts that contain images generate 104% more comments, 54% more likes, and 84% more click-throughs on average. Make sure your images are extremely relevant to your brand and consider including custom text or other elements using free online apps like canva.

facebook-image

2. Include a creative CTA

Guiding readers to make a decision through calls to action is a tried and true method of marketing success.  However, words like “check out,” “see,” “read,” “like,” and “follow” are often overused on Facebook. When you’re promoting your school/brand, get creative and write something unique. For example, if you’re linking to a university curriculum page, consider using something like “Take a peek at our diverse curriculum.” It never hurts to dust off a thesaurus for help here.

 

3. Post around your followers’ schedule

There’s a running myth within social media marketing about the best time of day to post. The truth is, the only perfect time is the one that works for your specific page. Use Facebook’s page analytics to determine when your followers are online and strategize the best time of day to post. After checking the insights tab, click on “posts” to find a graph that will look like this:

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4. Use events and holidays to your advantage

Whether it’s an academic conference or national cat day, you need to use events and holidays to your social advantage. Create a calendar of events and help your social team stay on target. Create posts leading up to big events as well as content on the day of.

5. Shorten text

The click-through rate on Facebook text that is roughly a paragraph in length is two to six times lower than posts that are close to 40 characters long. Keep posts short not only to maximize engagement but also to easily transfer the content over to your twitter feed.

length-of-a-facebook-post

6. Use a ratio for external vs internal content

I’ve found that an effective way to maintain a healthy content balance of sharable material vs. promotional pieces is dependent on the ratio between the two. You can come up with your own ideal ratio, but I’ve found that sharing content from your own site 30% of the time is ideal, while you should focus on sharable, entertaining content 70% of the time. Keep in mind, content that isn’t about you must be high in quality as to give your followers entertainment, information, and value. This really comes down to the fact that if you promote and advertise too much, people will lose a sense of value and find you to be too self-promotional.

 

7. Experiment with hashtags

A recent finding by Buzzsumo claims that engagement with Facebook posts decreased due to hashtag use. However, there are also several case studies supporting the benefits of hashtag use. Create your own or tap into trending topics, but most importantly, experiment with hashtags until you’ve learned more about how they impact your specific content.

 

8. Use video

While it’s time-consuming to film and edit video to post on your social channels, video has really proven itself to be the guiding force behind the future of social media engagement. Videos that are directly embedded on Facebook generally receive over six times the engagement of those directing followers to YouTube, so make sure you upload your videos natively to Facebook instead of hosting them on third party applications. The advent of live video has a lot of people talking as well. One way to take advantage of this would be a live Q&A, where prospective students can ask questions directly to a live administrator.

 

9. Ask questions

Asking questions is a simple and straightforward way to spark dialogue on your Facebook page. Questions can be added onto most posts if you think of a creative way to include them. Research provided by Buzzsumo has shown the effectiveness of question posts on facebook in the below bar graph.

interactions-on-post-types

In addition to this visualization, they noted that posts with questions AND images resulted in an average of 616.7 interactions, while posts with questions and without any images only received 144.45.

Here are some example questions to get you thinking:

  • Get specific: What’s your favorite ___?
  • Ask something controversial: Do you think/what is your opinion on ___?
  • Highlight an upcoming event: Are you attending ___?
  • Take advantage of time-sensitivity: Today is ___, how are you celebrating/recognizing it?

 

10. Know when to use organic audience targeting

While targeting a specific audience can potentially limit your overall reach, it is a great way to target specific follower segments when you have the right content. Not to mention, unlike Facebook Advertising, it’s completely free. Knowing when and how to enable organic, custom audience targeting can help you dial in on certain demographics, but don’t use it for just any post.

 

11. Recycle good content

Scroll through your post analytics in the Facebook pages backend and look for posts that received high engagement rates. Consider reposting or boosting them to recapitalize on their success. Make a note of the types of content that received high engagement. Did the posts have high visual appeal? Were they covering a specific topic? Use this information when building out future content.

 

12. Respond to comments and messages

You’ve probably heard this countless times, but you should ALWAYS respond to comments on your media or messages in your page’s inbox. Even if it’s a simple “nice” on one of your posts, thank them for it. Engaging with your audience is a great way to show that you are a real person behind the Facebook Page, which is vital to engagement success.

 

13. Post every other day

Kissmetrics recently analyzed the science of social timing and found that 1 post every 2 days will achieve the most likes on Facebook. Additionally, they found that the most sharing done on Facebook happens on Saturday.

 

14. Boost already successful posts

It’s surprising to see what $5.00 can do. Don’t dig too far back into your posting history. (I’d recommend nothing past the last two weeks.) If you see a recent notable post stand out, however, consider spreading it out to more people by adding on a couple bucks.

 

15. Schedule content

Even if your audience is on Facebook at 6:00 a.m., that doesn’t mean you have to be online, early in the morning, writing posts. Simply schedule posts ahead of time, on your own agenda, so you can stay in front of your audience when they’re online. Scheduling can help organize your strategy, and it’s native within Facebook and simply requires you to click on the dropdown icon next to “Post.”

 

16. Show them your humorous side

Lightening the mood can provide a great break from all the academic, industry content you would normally push through a scholarly Facebook news feed. Show your audience your funny side and they will be more enticed to come back to your page.

 

17. Link to good articles

It’s perfectly acceptable, and even expected, to link to content you didn’t publish. Facebook users enjoy consuming content on other websites. However, don’t just link to the first article you find. Make sure the article’s publisher is a reputable, established brand. I don’t recommend linking to any untrustworthy mom and pop blogs, which aren’t as credible as industry verticals, academic journals, or major media outlets. Additionally, there is a resounding preference for the length of external content. As you can see in the graph below, provided by Buzzsumo, Facebook users mostly like to get involved in articles anywhere from 1,000-3,000 words in length. (This article is 1,676, right in the sweet spot.)

best-length-of-an-article

18. Choose sharable words

As noted in tip 3, selecting the right linguistics can have critical consequences on engagement. Below you can find informative charts on the most and least sharable words on facebook. Graphs are provided by Dan Zarrella of Hubspot who analyzed 12,000 articles shared to Facebook.

most-and-least-sharable-words

19. Engage with other pages

Consider getting involved in the community via social media. By giving a shout out to a local cafe or store as a great study area, you can potentially tap into a new audience segment. Mention specific pages in your post headline by using the “@” symbol.

 

20. Integrate with instagram

The same Buzzsumo study (previously mentioned) also points out that images uploaded to Facebook from instagram received a 23 percent increase in engagement.

instagram-images-to-facebook

21. Help people, don’t sell to them

Instead of bluntly explaining the benefits of your degree program, address a problem and offer a solution. This can be applied to any business online. For example, a working mother may not think twice about getting her masters due to time restrictions. Luckily there are flexible, online options. Genuinely helping your audience can provide an increased reason for them to click through to your site or landing page.

This covers a large majority of the tactics that I personally use to assist university brand’s account engagement. One of the most important things to keep in mind when building out content is that the human connection is invaluable on Facebook. Treat your audience like the guests that they are, don’t ignore them, and give them a valued reason to interact with you. If you have any other tips or tricks that you use to boost page engagement, feel free to share them below.

 

Jordan OpelJordan Opel is an accomplished, creative professional. He is responsible for managing and enhancing organic social media activities for our various clients. Additionally, as the leading graphic designer, he contributes to a significant portion of Circa Interactive’s creative endeavors through motion-media design, illustration, and content-creation experience.

 

 

How Pokemon Go is Causing Digital Marketers to Experiment with Augmented Reality

Headline news this summer has been anything but stagnant. From political conventions to ISIS activity and a governmental coup, there are currently many powerful stories being told in the world. However, one trivial and unexpected memory from millennials’ childhood is commanding media attention in a way that would even catch M. Night Shyamalan off guard. Pokémon Go is taking the world by storm, and I’ve started to realize that mobile gaming isn’t the only industry being affected. If you haven’t heard about Pokémon Go recently, then there is a very good chance that you could be living under a rock, or more appropriately, hiding in the tall grass. Though if you’ve ventured out of your earthly abode and onto the internet any time in the past two weeks, you may know that the app has become the largest mobile game in U.S. history. However, its developer – Niantic, a former Google affiliate – is beginning to show the world that there is much more under the hood than a simple gaming platform, and it’s blazing a trail for digital marketers to begin experimenting with augmented reality as part of their overall strategy.

The Pokémon Phenomenon

Within only two weeks since its launch on July 6th, daily active user (DAU) numbers of Pokémon Go have effortlessly surpassed those of twitter. The app has been downloaded on twice as many devices as Tinder, a mega-popular millennial dating app, and one day, ironically, Pokémon Go could legitimately be considered a competitor with Tinder. On top of this, the Pokémon Go phenomenon is maintaining an upward trajectory of DAU’s despite consistent unacceptable server issues, multiple trespassing claims, and a diverse array of lacking features.

Google search queries compared to “Pokemon Go”

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In a recent sensetower study, Pokémon go is outperforming all social networks based on the time spent in the app.

pokemon-go-usage-comparison

Now, if you think “phenomenon” is a strong word, then it’s safe to assume that you haven’t witnessed Pokémon Go in the real world. Since the game forces users to go outside to play, typical gamers are getting something commonly unfamiliar: exercise, and lots of it. There have been numerous accounts of people in New York City, the archetypal mecca of “PoGo” players, swarming streets and blocking traffic in search of rare pocket monsters to add to their collection.

Despite having to look at your phone [most of the time] to play the game, it still kindles a vivid social atmosphere and encourages users to talk to complete strangers about subjects ranging from childhood video game involvement to recent Pokémon catches and what team they’re on. Sure, the problem of stumbling into new areas can have several downsides, but there are many overlooked benefits of the game’s interface as well.

Because of it’s social advocacy, psychology professionals are claiming that the game genuinely helps people with mental health issues,  such as depression and social anxiety. Philanthropic causes are also booming due to Pokémon Go. The app Walk for a Dog tracks walking distance through your smartphone and sends cash donations to your favorite animal shelter based on how far you walk. Many Pokémon Go users are using both apps together. So much so that Wooftrax, the Walk for a Dog developer even mentions Pokémon Go early on on their homepage. Essentially, Pokémon Go is bridging the gap between online and offline experiences. It has evolved into a modern social network without integrating any social media features within the app, and companies are beginning to notice. Digital marketers should take note on how Pokemon Go is influencing the way people interact in the world, encouraging community on and off line, and begin to think about how their own strategies can tap into augmented reality in a similar way.

 

Understanding the “PoGo” Marketing Platform

Anything that can rapidly draw a user base as large as Pokémon Go deserves attention from digital marketers. However, in order to recognize how companies can take advantage of this cultural phenomenon, you need to understand a few basic aspects of the game, so bare with me for a second.

Firstly, the entire game of Pokémon Go is a map, which draws it’s architecture from Google Maps and superimposes an actual street map on users’ phones screens. This requires players to venture outside not only to find and capture digital creatures through the lens of their smartphones via augmented reality (AR) but also to collect items. These items’ applications range from giving users better chances of catching Pokémon to healing their Pokémon to granting Pokéballs to catch more of them.

Unless users are going to pay for these items, they need to physically walk around and tap on virtual blue icons on the app’s map called “Pokéstops,” which have about a 200-foot actionable radius. One of the most beneficial activities players participate in at Pokéstops, however, is the use of something called a “lure.” Lure’s attract masses of the digital creatures (and people) to a Pokéstop’s location for a half-hour period. All players in the immediate area can benefit from it’s effects and lures often spawn rare Pokémon available for all to capture. Lure’s cost $1/piece, and it’s important to note that they can only be used at these Pokéstops.

The lure is represented by falling rose petals

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Locations with multiple overlapping Pokéstops can draw consistent crowds of people. Gyms, on the other hand – hard-to-miss digital towers where you can battle other players for control and earn rewards – require nothing to be placed there and offer players the chance to earn Pokécoins to spend on in-game items like lures and upgrades.

Three examples of gyms

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Pokéstops, as well as gyms, are placed at unique landmarks all around a user’s city, and up until recently their locations have been pre-decided by developer Niantic.

Most Pokéstops and gyms are currently situated at artistic installations, historical landmarks, and religious buildings. But that may be about to change.

Marketing Implications

When people are playing Pokémon Go, they usually aren’t aimlessly wandering around looking for Pokémon. Experienced players are going to visit and linger at locations with Pokéstops and Gyms in order to benefit from lures and fight with their team members for Gym control.

These two virtual landmarks, Gyms and Pokéstops, form the fundamental basis for how marketers are incorporating Pokémon Go into their efforts.

Lures

Several small businesses have recently experienced huge sales increases thanks to Lure activity. A pizza joint in Queens even saw a 75% sales increase on a $10 investment. You don’t have to be a marketing whiz to understand that kind of a return.

Location is everything here, and being situated next to a Pokéstop is the first step in determining if a Pokémon Go marketing investment is right for you. However, if you’re lucky enough to have one within proximity, mimicking the above tactic is sure to draw users into brick and mortar enterprises. Since lures cost only $1 for a half hour, the opportunity-cost here is pretty attractive.

If you want to test this approach, my advice when creating a PoGo account would be to pick a username that advertises your business as you can click on a lured Pokéstop to see the name of the account that set it up. People noticing that “L’inizio Pizza Bar” is paying for lures may be more inclined to pay a visit.

If you’re lucky enough to be in an area with multiple Pokéstops, users are most likely accumulating naturally as the more lures that are set up, the higher the chances are of catching rare in-game creatures. In this case, the pay-to-play users will generally keep lures set up themselves as multi-lure benefits are significant. Meanwhile, non-paying players can still reap all the benefits. Businesses next to these hotspots are taking advantage of this by offering discounts or free items to anyone who sets lures up.

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Gyms

Gyms offer another unique avenue for marketing potential. In the game, there are 3 teams that users can join, and the competition is pretty intense in between them, especially between the top two teams: red and blue (or Valor and Mystic as they are more specifically called). Taking advantage of appealing to the three in-game teams (with yellow, or “Instinct” being the third), businesses can tailor advertising or even products to appeal to Pokémon Go team members.

Since the competing teams are constantly overthrowing each other’s gyms, users will be forced to visit a gym’s location in order to take control of it. Being on or near a gym provides a lot of opportunity for marketers to target a constant flow of Pokémon Go players for free.

team mystic

Partnerships

Right now the locations of Pokéstops and gyms have been carried over from Niantic’s first and previous mass augmented reality (AR) endeavor, Ingress. However, there is clear evidence that they will be adjusting these marketing hotspots based on the recent surfacing of a partnership with McDonalds.

Thanks to the advertising agreement, Japanese Pokémon Go players can now find gyms at over 3,000 McDonalds locations around the land of the rising sun.

On July 26th, McDonalds CEO Steve Easterbrook was quoted saying: ‘We are enjoying what [Pokémon Go] is doing for our business at the moment.’

It’s unclear if Niantic is planning on selling advertising opportunities like this to the masses, but these indicators mean digital marketers should definitely be keeping tabs on the company’s progress.

What Does it all Mean?

Pokémon Go is a popular topic right now. It’s a trend, and we all know that trends never result in foolproof capitalization. There’s no need to go full throttle with an intensive Pokémon Go digital marketing strategy, but my best advice would be to experiment with Pokemon Go and begin to think about how augmented reality can meet your clients’ goals. Create an account, find out if your business is next to a Gym or Pokéstop, and if so, spend that $10 just to see what happens. Pokémon Go has the potential to be an unusual yet thrilling way to attract new customers. However, a lot of businesses either don’t know how to use it to their advantage or are simply scared to risk doing so.

As with any unsaturated market, there will always be apprehension. Digital marketers are comfortable using Facebook or Twitter because everyone already advertises on those channels, but very few businesses are experimenting with AR applications like Pokémon Go. If anything, it’s an exciting time right now to be witnessing the birth of a potential new marketing channel. The last major social application with the same kind of potential has to be Snapchat, which is still yet to reach widespread use for professionals. Though, as the barriers to entry are currently quite affordable, downsides to dipping a toe into the PoGo pool are few and far between. Just like the stars of Pokémon Go, technology evolves often and early adopters are the ones who capitalize first. Accepting new industry changes and discovering their practical applications has always been what drives our industry forward and gives us a reason to keep learning.

Instagram Growth Hacking Tips: A Comprehensive Guide From the Ground Up

Recognizing The Importance of Instagram

Regardless of your feelings on their recent logo change, Instagram is one of the widest-used social media platforms out there. With 300 million active daily users posting 70 million photos each day, it’s really hard to ignore an outlet this big. Especially when brand engagement ranks the highest out of any social media platform at 4.21%. The mobile photo-sharing app is also considered the most important social network by more American teens (at 32 percent) than any other network, which presents an especially large opportunity for schools and universities.

So it’s clear that there is value to be found in Instagram, but how do you rise the ranks in this massive, established community to reach students? Let’s go over some Instagram growth hacking tips to help you get a new instagram account growing from the bottom up.

All Hail the King

King Content that is…

In case you haven’t heard, Instagram has recently updated their newsfeed algorithm to focus on quality content. Before the March update, newsfeeds were strictly chronological and organic. Taking into account these changes means creating engaging content is of utmost importance, and it’s the first step in successfully growing your Instagram. Steer away from promotional posts and get creative. Your content (and a good history of it) is what followers will stick around for.

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You might be thinking: How can I create the best possible content without the best equipment? The most important part about your content is that you really don’t need that $2,000, 50-megapixel camera you’ve been dreaming of. Sure, it might help, but our smart phones nowadays can rival 10-year-old SLR’s if you know how to use them. I’m not going to dive into advanced photography principles, but a basic understanding is definitely useful. If you don’t know what the rule of thirds means, then a little light reading might be of help.

To make your photos “pop” (as they say), I highly recommend using a free photo-editing app called Snapseed. It’s extremely powerful, fun to use, and designed by Google, so what’s not to love? Sometimes I’ll even prefer editing photos on mobile in Snapseed instead of using Adobe Photoshop. Again, I’m not going to dive into the deep end of the photo editing pool, but if you are looking to dip a toe in, this is a great resource.

If you really want to stand out and give yourself a unique Instagram brand, consider establishing an identifiable persona or theme. Some basic examples might include a graphic design account that uses all cool colors (blues and greens) or a university account that only posts pictures of people at the school called “people of [insert university].” Another way to uniquely identify your account is through using a certain filter in every post.

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Build a content library and plan for future posts so your account will look alive and healthy. It’s critical to create and keep a library of ORIGINAL content that you can post. Originality will not only help build your brand, but it will also help your chances to appear on the suggested users list, or the wall of fame as I like to call it.

Another key to engaging content? Video. Instagram reports that video views have recently increased by 40%. We’ve also seen their parent company, Facebook, give preference to video content within their own algorithm, which could be taken as an indicator for the future of Instagram itself. The only thing – quality video content is a little more difficult to create and takes more time and better equipment. If you have the resources, definitely move forward with a video strategy.

Posting Consistency

Consistency is extremely important on Instagram.

A lot of people post every day or even multiple times a day and claim that it’s a great way to grow an account. With the recent changes, it’s also a great way to get lost in the algorithm. If your strategy is to post multiple times a day, often your content isn’t going to be of identical quality due to the constant pressure of maintaining consistency. Lower quality posts will then receive less engagement and tell the Instagram algorithm that your content isn’t popular and therefore not worth being featured on the newsfeed.

There really isn’t a cookie cutter standard for posting frequency, and it seems like everyone has historically had different experiences and suggestions. However, when starting a new account, I’ve always found it beneficial to post infrequently, especially when you’re just learning how to create good content. This doesn’t mean I post inconsistently, though. I’d recommend a structure of every 2-3 days for new accounts. If you’re just starting out with photography and editing, followers especially won’t be interested in an account that floods them with subpar content (no offense). All in all, initial infrequent posting is a great way to RETAIN followers when they only see your posts occasionally.

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Growing Your Fanbase

I need to start off explaining follower growth with a simple PSA: NEVER PAY FOR FOLLOWERS.

Purchasing followers doesn’t increase engagement and is an unrewarding way to “grow” your Instagram account. Paid followers are very easy to spot on the followers tab on your page, and it makes accounts look low quality. An account with a lot of followers and little engagement is quite suspicious in the eyes of prospective followers and (probably) Instagram.

How to Gain REAL Followers

Gaining fans (users who follow you that you don’t follow back) on Instagram really isn’t very difficult. It just takes a little time and dedication. To give you a picture of how much time, I probably spend around three hours each week on Instagram growth AND engagement, so it’s definitely not a full-time commitment. Incorporating these strategies into or on top of your existing day-to-day responsibilities is a breeze.

It’s important to note that you should not start growing your account until you’ve built it up into something you’re proud of so your followers will stick. Before you begin step 1, make sure you:

  • Choose a simple, yet relevant account handle
  • Create a unique name for your account.
  • Come up with a simple account bio
  • Include a relevant link to your site
  • Upload a high-quality profile photo
  • Establis a history of at least 9 posts so your account looks established above the mobile fold of your account page

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Step 1 – Following Other Accounts: Look to the Competition

After your account is somewhat built out, the first step is following other accounts, and, specifically, accounts that follow your competitors.

You’ll need to find 4-5 competitor Instagram accounts and rotate through them, eventually following thousands of their followers, tens of thousands of them even. When choosing these competitors, you can search for accounts that have similar keywords in their handles as yours or you can even browse Internet resources and receive insight into the top accounts in your industry.

After you’ve found relevant competitor’s accounts, just click on their followers tab and follow as many as you can. Instagram limits your followings to 200/hour so you’ll have to do this manually and in hourly incremented time segments. It takes about 3 minutes to follow 200 people once you become a pro at tapping “follow” instead of their profile link…

It is extremely important to know that when looking at an account’s followers section, the followers at the top of the list are the newest followers of the account. This means they have recently been online, and you know they are active users. Selecting a specific time of day to follow these people on competitor’s accounts means you can control when your followers are active and post content based around that timeframe. This is also a great way to use the newsfeed algorithm to your advantage.

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Don’t worry if the accounts seem irrelevant or if you feel like you’re following too many people. All of the followers of your competitors accounts have a reason they’re following them, and that reason could lead them to interest in your account. In this sense, instagram is a really great way to directly target your audience segments. You can also use third party apps to find these audiences, but I’ve found that the search feature in Instagram works just as great. Not to mention most of the aforementioned apps aren’t free…

The Instagram community is extremely supportive, and the follow-for-follow approach has really become some sort of unwritten code that most instagram users adhere to. You’ll get about 25% of those you followed following you back most of the time, which means at the beginning, you’ll be following more people than those that follow you. Don’t worry, that’s perfectly normal and expected. If you really want to grow an eventual following, you’ll need to spend a lot of time following accounts as well as unfollowing them. It becomes an intuitive process of follow, wait, rinse, and repeat.

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Step 2 – Unfollowing Accounts

After you’ve followed a large number of accounts, around 3,000-5,000, you’ll start accumulating an attractive following. The second step is unfollowing those that you have followed.

Your “following” number is a large indicator of organic viability. Unfollowing accounts is almost as, if not, more important than following accounts. This is because it’s time consuming and a necessary part of optimizing the illustrious Instagram “Ratio” (cue chorus of angels). This infamous ratio of “following” to “followers” is by far the most popular metric discussed in the Instagram community. A better ratio can be a large sign of respect and authority, which can lead to more organic followers, better odds against the algorithm and a higher chance to end up on the wall of fame (suggested accounts).

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There’s no way to unfollow accounts quickly in the Instagram app, unless you go one by one down your following list and unfollow them, which is possible but takes a LOT of time, and more importantly, it’s just really boring. My personal suggestion, and the biggest piece of advice I have would be to spend a little money, specifically a one-time fee of $2.99 (about the same price as a chalupa supreme). This enables full access to an app called “cleaner,” which allows you to unfollow up to 200 accounts/hour with the click of a button. It’s a complete lifesaver when it comes to cleaning up your account and well priced at that. Cleaner is free, but you can opt-in for the unlimited mass unfollowing option within the app.

Don’t be a Robot

After you’ve gained some followers, you need to let them know you’re a real person. As with every social media platform, engagement is the building block for impact and action.

Scroll through your follower feed and do the following:

  • Like their pictures
  • Comment on their posts
  • Respond to as many of their comments on your content as you can.

Sure, this takes some time, but people will really stick around as a follower if they get a positive experience from your account and feel like you are a human being.

Tap into Communities

Engage with accounts outside of your primary audience. Consider a topic lightly related to a recent post you published. Search a hashtag or location (maybe close to your business) and then navigate to recent posts. Again, we know the top people are active on their accounts and online right now. Their content also has little engagement on it, as it is very recent, and being one of the first to engage with a post can pull a lot of weight.

No, That Isn’t a Pound Sign

It’s a hashtag, and they are very important in Instagram. Hashtags will allow a lot of people to discover your content and your account. There are several tags that people use to find new accounts and draw engagement such as #follow4follow #Followback and #doubletap. Using these can potentially help gain followers and engagement, but they can also make you look desperate. I recommend targeting highly relatable keywords to your posts and using them as hashtags. You can also brand your own hashtags and include them in every one of your posts.

When starting out, use a minimum of 13 hashtags in every post and place them as a comment, rather than in the post copy. That way, when other comments come in on your post, your hashtags will be hidden in plain sight and posts will appear much cleaner. Instagram communities are very powerful; it’s important to take advantage of them, and the best way to do so is through hashtags. But you’ll need to get a little creative. For hashtag ideas, you can look for photos of similar content on instagram and grab hashtag ideas. However, I like to use a site called keyhole to find related hashtags under the “topics” section. Eventually dwindle this number down to around four or five. Too many hashtags can also make you look desperate for followers.

Share Where You Are

I’ve mentioned geotags a few times, so let’s talk about how to use them. Geotags work very similarly to hashtags. Sure, location sharing is a great way to stalk your ex, but more importantly, people tend to do a lot of research when visiting a new place, and Instagram has surpassed yelp in becoming the go-to resource for visual references, especially due to it’s user-centric focus. Because of this, it’s pretty important for your content to be in the location stream. Especially when posts with location tags drive 79% higher engagement rates.

Adding a geotag is fairly easy. Simply tap the “add location” option when posting your content and select the relevant location you want the post associated with. You can also create a new Instagram location via Facebook by following steps here.

Add Captions to Your Media

You should be including written copy on every post you publish on Instagram. Visual media will obviously be the first thing followers see in your post, but (hopefully) if it’s something they really like, they’ll take the time to read the caption. Now unless you are an Instagram thought leader or celebrity, few people are going to stick around to read a 300 word caption, so generally keep it short and sweet. The max character count is 1,200 characters, but captions cut off in users’ feeds after just 3 lines of text, which usually comes out to just under 120 characters. I’d recommend aiming your character count to somewhere around 100.

Notify Your Followers

One recent feature that Instagram rolled out was the “turn on post notifications” option. This is a great feature that was designed to send push notifications to your phone from your favorite Instagram accounts so you can be up to date on their content stream.

Encouraging your followers to turn on post notifications can be a great way to establish a network of dedicated followers to increase engagement, just be careful not to look desperate. Mention it every once in a while but too much and you could start annoying them. The image below will show you how to turn on notifications.

post notifications image

To Infinity and Beyond

A few years ago, Facebook bought out Instagram for $1 billion. Since then, Zuckerberg’s monster has made some drastic changes to their own algorithm including capitalizing on a strict pay-to-play approach, which has really sent the organic feed up the creek without a paddle, making a lot of people unhappy in the process. Facebook seems to be taking baby steps toward a similar approach with their Instagram strategy as well, and again, it’s not looking too good for the future of organic content. However, we’re at a breaking point right now where the recent algorithmic changes in Instagram present an opportunity of sorts that is ready to be taken advantage of. The important part is just knowing how to take advantage of it.

Some people are suggesting that Facebook’s organic preference toward video content may rollover into the new instagram changes and that videos may become more important in the coming years. Some people are also claiming that ‘sharing’ content will soon become a feature within Instagram, which would add a whole new medium for KPI’s.

At the end of the day, just ask yourself, are people going to like this image or video? The two pillars of Instagram growth are quality and simplicity. Don’t overthink it.

Happy Instagramming! If you have any questions, tips and tricks, or your own or success stories, feel free to share them below.

Jordan OpelJordan Opel is an accomplished, creative professional. He is responsible for managing and enhancing organic social media activities for our various clients. Additionally, as the leading graphic designer, he contributes to a significant portion of Circa Interactive’s creative endeavors through motion-media design, illustration, and content-creation experience.

12 Techniques to Help You Learn Adobe Illustrator

Adding some custom design to your marketing materials and content can really help identify your brand. Most designers charge a fortune for simple projects, but if you’re willing to put in the time yourself and learn Adobe Illustrator, the basics aren’t as hard as it seems. It’s never a bad skill to add to your personal marketing arsenal either. The creative cloud program costs $20/month for one program and $50/month for the full suite, which is far less than any freelancer or in-house employee would charge. It goes without saying that if you’re really interested in mastering the program, I highly recommend an online course solution such as Lynda.com. However, if you’re just looking to pick up a couple quick tools and techniques for foundational skills to enhance your content strategy, this list compiles my favorites and will get your design project off the ground in no time.

1: Color

Lets start with something simple. If you’re going to be designing anything, you’re probably going to be using color. I won’t touch much on color theory, but I do want you to feel comfortable adjusting colors and creating aesthetic color schemes within adobe illustrator.

How to 

  • Lets start on the top left of your illustrator dashboard. Look for two squares. One will be white, and the other will be black with a white square inside of it. The white square represents the inside of any vector object you create within Illustrator. We call this the fill. The Black square represents the color of the object’s border. This is referred to as the stroke or, more specifically, the stroke color. Clicking on either of these will bring up a drop-down menu and swatch grid where you can select different colors preset by Adobe. They have some basic stuff here but nothing too unique. Within this window, there are other menus at the bottom that can show more colors and even help you create new ones. Clicking on the “New Swatch” icon will let you manipulate the current color you have selected through a few different methods. I like using the CMYK editor or Web-safe RGB. If you have the RGB values or hex code of your brand’s color (or one you just really like and found on the web), then you can easily input the values through the two RGB options. We’ll get into another method for copying colors off the web later on.

Color

  • On the bottom of the tools panel on the left hand side, you’ll see these colors represented as two overlapping squares. This simply tells you whether the fill or stroke is selected on a given vector shape. The selected one will be on top. The double pointed arrow will let you swap the colors of the fill and stroke.
  • On the right hand side of your illustrator dashboard, make sure Automation is selected on your workspace dropdown menu. At the top of this menu you’ll see an artist easel icon. Clicking this will also let you manipulate the CMYK values of your selected color.
  • Below the color icon is the color guide. I find this essential for creating aesthetically appealing designs based on color coordination. You’ll find complimentary colors, triad groupings, and much more in the dropdown menu within this tool. The colors in your grouping will be shown down the middle column of the color guide grid and tints and shades of them will be shown to the left and right.

Color2

Tips

  • Using too many colors can be overwhelming. I generally stick to a maximum of three for any given project.
  • Selecting the white square with a red line through it will make either the fill or stroke (whichever you have selected) transparent.
  • Depending on what you’re designing, it’s important to keep in mind that RGB values (Red, Green, Blue) are used for anything published on the web or digital space, while CMYK values (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) are mainly used in print. This just has to do with pixel colorations and printer ink standards.
  • Color can define the mood of a design. It’s important to research and understand how different colors can affect different peoples perceptions and emotions. This is a great way to translate the objectives of your project to your audience subconsciously. Forbes covers this in excellent detail here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/02/04/how-to-use-color-psychology-to-give-your-business-an-edge/#39d302292e28.

2: Shape Tool

Illustrator is ultimately a creative suite, but I’ve found that many of its geometrically precise functions make it far superior to other design options. The shape tool is an essential foundation for any beginner jumping into adobe illustrator and a Segway into some more complex functions of the suite.

Where is it?

  • When starting up illustrator, on the left side of your computer screen you’ll find the tools panel. Under the line tool and above the paintbrush, the default icon for the shape tool will be represented as a rectangle. Click on the rectangle icon to use the rectangle tool, click and hold the icon to find a dropdown of other shape options (this interface function applies to most tools’ icons as well).
  • Keyboard shortcut: “M” to select the rectangle tool and “L” for the ellipse option.

How To

  • Two words: click and drag. Using the basics of the shape tool is extremely intuitive, which is why it’s early on in my list. Clicking and dragging when having the rectangle tool selected will draw a rectangle with a white fill and black stroke if you haven’t manipulated the colors already. Now, if you shift + click while dragging, you can create perfectly symmetrical shapes such as squares and (with the ellipse tool selected) circles.
  • One of my favorite uses of the shape tool is the polygon option. Clicking and dragging with this selected will automatically draw a perfectly symmetrical hexagon.
  • Below the polygon tool, the star tool has very similar properties and allows you to draw perfectly symmetrical stars.

Tips

  • Use alt + Click + Drag to copy shapes (or anything) in Adobe Illustrator. This is really useful for everything you will do and an even easier keyboard shortcut than Command + C and Command + V.
  • Press and hold Command with any shape selected to round the corners. Click and drag the circles that appear on the corners to adjust the roundness.
  • If you press the up and down arrows on your keypad when using the polygon or star tool, you can change the number of sides or points your polygon or star will have. I love using this to create perfect triangles for arrows and buttons or multi-pointed stars for making badges or action borders. You can also make flat-looking rounded gears by rounding the corners of a star with a lot of points.

Shapes1

  • The flare tool can create a unique sunlight effect, but I wouldn’t play with this too much as a beginner. The standard settings could be useful for an effect on a photo though (some opacity applied).

 

3: Gradient Tool

Gradients, or color fades, are a great way to create depth and transition in a design to guide the viewer’s eyes. They’re very easy to learn but difficult to master. Some of the best designers use gradients in very creative ways. Often times they are really easy to overlook.

Where is it?

  • The primary area of your illustrator dashboard you will be using for the gradient tool is on the right side, towards the top. You will see an icon that looks a lot like the rectangle option of the shape tool, but with a gradient. If you don’t see this tool on the right hand side, make sure your “Essentials” option is selected in the workspace dropdown menu on the top right of your dashboard.
  • Towards the bottom of the left hand tools panel under the mesh tool and above the eyedropper you can find another gradient tool. While it looks identical, this is used to mainly apply and manipulate the direction of gradients after you have designed the color scheme.
  • Keyboard shortcut: G

How To

  • Click on a shape you created. Make sure the fill is selected rather than the stroke (unless you want to apply a gradient on a shape’s border) and then click on the gradient tool on the RIGHT side of the screen. To apply the last used gradient, click the Gradient box in the Tools panel or the Gradient Fill box in the Gradient panel. The default settings for a last used gradient are going to be an even white to black fade from left to right. With the gradient window open and the fill selected, click on the gradient box in the top left corner of the gradient window. This will apply a gradient to your shape.
  • You’ll see a line in the gradient window that represents the colors in your gradient. You can drag the color points around to shorten or lengthen the space in between color transitions. You can also click just below the line to add new colors and then reorganize them as well. Play around with this a bit until you get more comfortable.

Gradient

  • Up to this point, your gradients color will be greyscale, but you can add colors to your gradient by dragging them in to the gradient window from the swatches panel – the color fill dropdown menu in the top left corner of your screen. You can also change the color of a swatch already applied to your gradient by double-clicking on its marker on the color line in the gradient panel.
  • Linear gradients are great, but radial gradients can also be useful for certain projects. Click the dropdown menu at the top of the gradients window and select “radial”. I don’t use these as often but mess around with the properties and see what you can create! The best way to learn is to experiment.
  • After your gradient is applied, you can use the gradient tool in your tools panel (left hand side) to rearrange the orientation of your gradient by clicking and dragging it across your shape.

Tips

  • Adjusting the opacity of a gradient is possible through single-clicking on one of the colors on your gradient timeline in the gradient window and selecting an opacity option under the respective dropdown menu. This is a great way to make shadows and reflections by using the same color throughout a gradient while only scaling the opacity.
  • Don’t use too dramatic of colors. A high color contrast in your gradient can make it look tacky if you are a beginner. Keep it simple. No more than 3 colors and only make slight variations in the color array.
  • There are pre-designed default gradients in the swatches panel as well. To display only gradients in the Swatches panel, click the Show Swatch Kinds button and then select Show Gradient Swatches.


4: Pen Tool

The pen tool is one of the most widely used tools in adobe illustrator. It allows you to draw freeform shapes with the help of some geometric guidance. This one takes a little bit more practice to get the hang of, but will become a critical addition to your design arsenal when you get comfortable using it.

Where is it?

  • The pen tool can be found at the top of the tools panel on the left hand side of your dashboard. It is above the curvature tool and below the lasso. The icon looks like the tip of a quill.
  • Keyboard shortcut: “P

How To

  • Lets start with straight line-based shapes. This is very simple with the pen tool. With the tool selected, left click anywhere on your artboard to create a point. Move the cursor away from your first point and left click again to create another point. The points will be connected with a straight line. Simple as that. Keep clicking points until you want to close the shape off. Do this by hovering over your first point until you see a circle icon appear. Left click, and you will have created an enclosed shape.
  • Curved lines are where the pen tool really stands out. This time, click and drag to set the slope of the curve segment you’re creating, and then release the mouse button. Move the cursor and click again, you’ll see that the guiding lines you create from dragging the cursor have made a geometric curve based on where you have set them. You can adjust the angle of these guiding lines after drawing them by holding alt on your keyboard with the pen tool selected and dragging their end points (NOT the end points of your visible line).

Pen-Tool

Tips

  • Hold down Shift to constrain the pen tool to multiples of 45°. Whether it be straight angles or guiding lines for curves.
  • Use alt to turn the curve of a guiding line into an angle. Play around with straight and curved lines leading into each other.
  • The best way to get the hang of this tool is to start tracing things. Download an image that you like such as a mountainous landscape or even a portrait. Identify tracing sections by the differences in color and trace them with the pen tool. You may be surprised what you can do! Eventually it will become second nature. Make sure you are only tracing with stroke, not fill, so you can see behind your tracing.


5: Type tool

We’re all familiar with typing and text by this point, but the interface in adobe illustrator isn’t like your run-of-the-mill Microsoft word. It’s primarily a design studio, not a text editor. It’s easy to get frustrated trying to format the little things with your typography that are normally intuitive.

Where is it?

  • The type tool can be found in the tools panel under the curvature tool and above the line segment tool. The symbol is a T. There are a few dropdown options when you click and hold on the icon. I won’t go over all of them but most are self-explanatory and fairly intuitive.
  • Keyboard shortcut: “T
  • Adjusting the paragraph spacing and kerning (space in between letters) of text is an important function of typography. To do this, you can find editing options when you click on the orange character button at the top of your dashboard after typing something.
  • Clicking on the orange paragraph button on the top of the workspace opens standard paragraph options such as indents and positioning as well as the option to unhyphenate words that overflow off the text box.

How To

  • The standard text tool has two different settings.
    • Single click in your workspace and start typing to create an unresponsive text box, where you will manually have to insert line breaks to organize the spacing of a text block. I find this a lot easier to manipulate manually but issues arise when redesigning spacing layouts.
    • Click and drag your cursor to draw a responsive text box that automatically drops down a line when your text reaches the limits of the box. This function is really useful for designing brochures, advertisements, or any project that demands spacing limitations and is a great way to manage large text blocks that you may want to re-shape later on in a design.

Type

  • If you want your text to occupy an unorthodox shape, such as a circle or polygon, first make your shape using the shape tool and then select the area type tool under the text tool dropdown menu. Click on the shape you want to transform into a text box and start typing. It’s that easy. Your shape will be permanently converted and transparent though.

Tips

  • Research and download lots of fonts. I use sites like http://www.fontsquirrel.com and http://www.dafont.com to find some really eye-catching ones. Don’t use too many fonts in one design however. My rule of thumb is a maximum of 3.
  • Convert your text into vector shapes by right clicking on it and choosing Create Outlines. This is useful if you are going to share an illustrator file, as the person on the other end may not have the text you used downloaded on their computer.
  • Consider pathfinder capabilities for the area type tool – we’ll get to this

6: Eyedropper Tool

The eyedropper tool is a really easy way to copy aspects of a design you want to recreate and helps streamline your workflow. It’s a great way to import new colors for your design off of the web as well.

Where is it?

  • The eyedropper tool can be found in the tools panel near the bottom. It looks like, well, an eyedropper. Ignore the measure option in the dropdown for this tool for now.
  • Keyboard shortcut: “I

How To

  • The eyedropper tool is really easy to use. It essentially copies all of the graphic elements of one vector object onto another. The best way to see it in action is to use it. Create two shapes. Make one black and the other white. Give the black shape a thick stroke of your choice of color by increasing the stroke value in the upper left corner of your illustrator dashboard. Select the white shape and click on the eyedropper tool. Then click the black shape. The white shape should have adopted all of the characteristics of the black shape without copying the dimensions of the original black shape. The weight of the stroke and colors of both the stroke and fill will be copied to any shape you have selected when you use the eyedropper tool.

Eyedropper

  • The eyedropper tool also works great with text. It will copy all aspects mentioned above as well as the typeface and the font size.

Tips

  • Think outside the box. Literally. The eyedropper tool doesn’t have to be used strictly within the illustrator workspace. If you click and drag the eyedropper from a selected shape to a color on a photo you upload to illustrator, you can copy the color directly from the pixels of the photo. You can do this to grab brand colors off of websites as well, outside of the illustrator workspace.

Eyedropper2

7: Layers

Every time you create a new object in illustrator, a new layer is established for that object and the most recently created object will always be on the top. Using layers is a great way to organize your projects and rally necessary when tackling complex designs with a lot of details.

Where is it?

  • The layers panel can be opened by clicking on the layers icon on the right hand side of your workspace towards the bottom of the column.
  • You can also use the dropdown option Window > Layers

How To

  • The main use of the layers panel is to reorganize your layers and reposition things behind and in front of another. To do this, you simply drag and drop the item you want to move forward or backward (up or down) within the layers panel.
  • Layer groups will be color-coded and listed in a drop-down menu in the layers panel. Click the arrow to bring up a list of items in the layer. You can tell which element are in which layer simply by looking at the selection color when clicking on them in your workspace.
  • In the dropdown list under each layer, you’ll see a small preview of each of your items in that layer. To select the item through the layers panel, click on the circle to the right of each preview.
  • On the left side of each item listed in the layers panel, you’ll see an eye icon. This hides and shows anything you want to see hidden without deleting the actual item. A very useful technique for experimenting with and replacing different design elements.

Layers

  • To the right of the eyeball and the left of the layer color of the object seems like an empty box, but when you click in this space, a padlock icon appears. This means that the object is locked, meaning that you cannot move or edit it. You can also lock entire layers. This comes in handy a lot if you want to move one item without moving a lot of others underneath or in front of it.

Tips

  • An easy way to reorder your layers and objects is by using the keyboard shortcuts Alt + [ for move backward, Alt + Shift + [ for move to back, Alt + ] for move forward, and Alt + Shift + ] for move to front.
  • I generally use 3 standard layer groups on basic projects, consisting of a background, foreground and text, because text will always be on top.

8: Groups

Working with a bunch of objects in one project can be overwhelming. That’s where grouping comes in handy. A lot. Grouping objects can allow you to organize certain elements together so that when you select a portion of the group, the entire group is selected rather than each individual element.

Where is it?

  • Grouping is a right-click function within Adobe Illustrator. Select the Rectangle tool and click and drag the page several times to create multiple rectangles. Now select all of the rectangles you just created and right click anywhere on the page. Towards the middle of the right-click drop down menu you’ll see the option Group.

How To

  • You’ll see that when you click and drag one of the objects in your new group, the whole group now moves with your cursor. Grouping objects essentially makes them a new single object, without actually doing so. With the group selected, changing the fill or stroke also changes that of the entire group so if you want to edit a single element inside your group you’ll have to double click. This will allow you to edit the individual elements of a group, whether it be repositioning them, editing colors, reorganizing the layering or anything else you wish.

Groups

Tips

  • I use groups every time I design something with layers. Groups are an easy way to combine objects of the same color so that you can easily change the color of multiple vector items with just a couple clicks.
  • You can make groups inside of groups to organize elements even further. There’s no limit to how far down the rabbit hole you want to take your groupings.

9: Pathfinder

This is one of my favorite tools in adobe illustrator. Plus, it’s really easy to use. The pathfinder can allow you to create complex shapes that will challenge your creative thinking. It’s a window I always keep open in my dashboard.

Where is it?

  • Window > Pathfinder 

How To

  • The pathfinder tool has two different categories. Shape modes and Pathfinders. Just ignore the differentiation. The theory is that shape modes create a new shape, eliminating previous bounding paths, while Pathfinders only alter the interaction of shapes. But Crop and Minus Back, under pathfinders, should really be under shape modes since they do create new shapes.
  • Lets discuss the most useful tools within the pathfinder window. Create two squares and make sure they are overlapping to some degree.
    • Unite – click the top left icon in the pathfinder window to unite two objects. This creates a new path and turns multiple shapes into one. Unlike group, you cannot edit the properties of each of the united elements. They are now one congruent shape with the same border and fill.
    • Minus front – click the icon to the right of unite to subtract the front of a shape with another shape. Think of this as punching out or cutting a shape with another shape. Really useful for making shapes like rings and donuts as well.

Pathfinder

    • Divide –Clicking divide when shapes are overlapping creates new shapes out of every overlapping line. It divides your entire image into unique movable and editable shapes All divided shapes keep the visible style of the top overlapping shape. Divide is a Pathfinder tool that I personally use a lot.

Tips

  • Experiment with the other pathfinder tools.
  • Create complex things by using multiple pathfinder functions together.
  • Once you use the pathfinder tool on a set of shapes, you cannot undo the function unless you press Command + Z.

10: Clipping Masks

A clipping mask is the closest thing to cropping that you will use in illustrator. In essence, a clipping mask is an object whose shape masks other artwork so that only areas that lie within the shape are visible. They’re great for framing patterns and photos.

Where is it?

  • Clipping masks are found in the right-click drop down menu when you select two objects.
  • Keyboard Shortcut: Command + 7

How To

  • Great for manipulating photos and pictures, draw a square, circle or other shape around an area of an object you want to use in your project.
  • Make sure the shape you are using as a clipping mask is in a layer above the object you are trying to crop.
  • Select both the photo and your shape and right click. Scroll down to the make clipping mask option and you’ll see that the image has been cropped to the parameters of your shape. You can also use the keyboard shortcut above.

Clipping-Masks

  • To release or edit a clipping mask, you can right click the clipping mask and select release clipping mask.

Tips

  • I mainly use clipping masks for background items and not for vector shapes. If you are trying to crop a shape in the foreground of your design you’d be better off using the pathfinder tool and the “Divide” or “Minus Front” option.
  • Be careful when editing clipping masks. Your edits will apply to the clipping mask itself, not the item that it’s masking. To edit the item it’s masking, you’ll have to click the edits contents icon in the top left corner of your workspace. It looks like a circle with anchor points around it.

11: Drop Shadows

Adding some stylistic elements can really make your designs look professional. Two that I use quite often are drop shadows and inner glow. But the list of stylizing options doesn’t stop there. Feel free to explore the stylize list and discover new techniques yourself! They’re easy to figure out once you start pressing buttons.

Where is it?

  • Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow
  • Make sure to choose the stylize option under Illustrator Effects and not Photoshop Effects. If you don’t see Photoshop options then ignore this.

 How-To

  • Drop shadows are very easy to apply. First select the shape you want to apply a drop shadow to, then choose “drop shadow…” in the stylize menu. After you get to the drop shadow panel, just Set options for the drop shadow, and click OK.
    • Mode specifies a blending mode for the drop shadow. Keep this on “Normal or “Multiply” for now.
    • Opacity Specifies the percentage of opacity you want for the drop shadow. Lower numbers make the drop shadow more transparent, higher numbers make it more visible.
    • X Offset and Y Offset specifies the distance you want the drop shadow to be offset from the object. Mess around with this with the preview box ticked can help you manipulate the perfect drop shadow.
    • Blur specifies the distance from the edge of the shadow where you want any blurring to occur. Again, starting out you’ll want to have the preview box ticked.
    • Color dictates a color for the shadow. Usually this will be black, but feel free to experiment.
    • Darkness specifies the percentage of black you want added for the drop shadow. A value of 100% used with a selected object that contains only a black fill or stroke creates a 100% black shadow. A value of 0% creates a drop shadow the color of the selected object.

Drop-Shadow

Tips

  • Once you apply a stylize effect, you can’t undo it unless you press
    command + Z so it’s always best to tick the Preview box when defining your stylizing options to make sure it looks right.
  • When manipulating your drop shadow with Preview ticked, I find it best to place your vector shape over a background of the same color. I use white on white. This helps you really see the changes your making to the shadow by maximizing the contrast.

12: Inner Glow

My favorite stylizing effect, inner glow can make your vector shapes look great when done right. This is a technique I use a lot for promotional materials such as banner ads for the web and other marketing materials. It’s a great way to give your designs some extra depth.

Where is it?

  • Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow
  • Again, make sure to choose the stylize option under Illustrator Effects and not Photoshop Effects.

How To

  • Once you’ve selected an item you want to add an inner glow to, apply an inner glow through the stylize menu. Adjust the parameters to your liking and press ok.
    • Mode Specifies a blending mode for the glow. Again, keep this on normal or multiply.
    • Color (the box next to mode) changes the color of your inner glow.
    • Opacity specifies the percentage of opacity you want for the glow. Keep this low for high contrasting colors if you want a more subtle glow.
    • Blur specifies the distance from the center or edge of the selection where you want blurring to occur.
    • Center applies a glow that emanates from the center of the selection.
    • Edge applies a glow that emanates from the inside edges of the selection. This is the standard option.

Inner-Glow

Tips

  • Again, play with these options with the Preview box ticked and discover how to make your inner glow perfect for your project.
  • Feathering is very similar to inner glow, except it adds opacity to the edges instead of another color. Once you feel comfortable using the inner glow technique, move on to feathering. You can find it right in between “Drop Shadow” and “Inner Glow” on the stylize menu.

Bonus: Saving the file correctly

All of these techniques can be great for creating awesome designs. However, it all goes to waste if you aren’t saving your files correctly. If you want to save a design as an image for the web, you have a few options. First off, you will most likely want to export the image instead of saving it. I know this can be confusing, but using PNG’s and JPEGS has become the standard for image sharing in most cases. I could go on and on about saving files so for the sake of your time, I’ll go over a few guidelines to go by whenever you’re exporting something from adobe illustrator.

Where is it?

  • File > Export

How To

  • If you want to save a project in high quality and care about the background being transparent, you’ll want to save it as a PNG.
    • To save as a PNG, click File > Export and then choose the “PNG” option in the drop-down menu. After you click “Export”, you’ll be directed to a preferences screen. Here, you can choose the quality of your image, the background preference, anti-aliasing, an interlace option and the destination of your file.
      • Anti-Aliasing allows you to choose whether your export will be optimized for text or for art. It’s pretty straightforward. If you are exporting graphics, choose art. If it’s text, choose text. If you have both in your design, just leave it on “none”
      • Interlacing basically makes it so your image quality loads on a web page versus its dimensions. It’s a good choice if you’re planning on exporting a PNG for the web.
    • If file size is a big issue and you want a simple image with no transparency, choose to export as a JPEG. To save a file as a JPEG, click File > Export and then the JPEG option in the drop-down menu. This menu will have a few more options on it, but don’t be overwhelmed, it’s fairly simple to use and similar to exporting PNG’s.
      • Quality determines the overall quality of your JPEG based on a range from 0 to 10. Dimensions aren’t affected. Higher quality produced a larger file size.
      • Color modes convert the image into either a CMYK or RGB format. If you’re exporting for the web, use RGB. For print, use CMYK.
      • Compression Methods determines the mode of compression for an image. Select Baseline (Standard) for safe web use, Baseline Optimized for optimized color and a slightly smaller file size, or Progressive to display a series of increasingly detailed scans (you specify how many) as the image downloads. It’s important to note that Baseline Optimized and Progressive JPEG images are not supported by all web browsers.

Jordan Opel Jordan Opel is an accomplished, creative professional. He is responsible for managing and enhancing organic social media activities for our various clients. Additionally, as the leading graphic designer, he contributes to a significant portion of Circa Interactive’s creative endeavors through motion-media design, illustration, and content-creation experience.

Creative Ways to Make Higher Education More Affordable [INFOGRAPHIC]

The rising costs of colleges and universities can be one of the largest barriers to entry when applying to schools. For some, higher education isn’t even an option due to insufficient financial opportunities. However, there are several institutions attempting to cut expenses and reduce the costs of tuition through unconventional and creative methods. Promoting a lower tuition sticker price can be even more enticing than providing competitive financial aid. Students don’t usually find out how much they’ll receive in grants or scholarships until late in the game, sometimes weeks before they must decide where to enroll. Providing low costs up-front is becoming increasingly popular amongst the dramatic rise in tuition as of late.

Low-tuition practices aren’t the only way to save money while attending college. Students have a lot of power over their education nowadays thanks to options provided by a competitive education marketplace. Circa Interactive has researched the current state of college costs and the many creative ways in which institutions and students alike can choose to save money while pursuing a degree.

 

How Colleges can Save You Money

 

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How to Effectively Construct a Facebook Promoted Post

Ten years after it’s founding in 2005, Facebook could not have predicted its impact on the modern world. The company transformed our relationships, constructed a new media outlet, and altered the rules of traditional advertising. As organic reach declines and the platform becomes a global-majority stakeholder in digital paid advertising, competition in this lucrative marketplace of 1.44 billion monthly active users has intensified.

Because of these changes, spending money on Facebook ads is becoming the only way to get noticed. One of the most effective ways to promote a Facebook page is through boosted and promoted posts; but not just any post will get the job done. Specific planning and a refined creative process are both necessary to stand out from the burgeoning crowd. Below, you’ll find some detailed steps in order to creatively optimize your Facebook post for an effective boosted/promoted post campaign.

You’ve decided to promote your content on Facebook, Great!

It’s important to understand the main differences between “boosted” posts and “promoted” posts. They are both aimed at the same overarching goal, to get eyes on your content, but it’s critical to understand basic differences.

Boosting a post is easy to do and can be done in the bottom right corner of the post itself, but you can only boost one post at a time. You can choose to boost to “people who like your page and their friends” or “People you choose through targeting.” Almost every time you’ll want to choose the targeting approach only because these “friends” of your fans don’t represent a very defined audience and you will never know if the content appeals to them. If you’re trying to boost engagement on your page, it’s better to use a promoted post and target only your community.

Most of the time you’ll want to promote a post instead of boosting one. While the two are very similar in theory, promoted posts offer much more detailed targeting parameters and optional payment models. To do so, you’ll need to access the power editor through the business manager portal and choose which post to promote. Promoted posts are also only available to pages with more than 400 likes, and you can only promote a post that is newer than 3 days old, so you’ll want to craft one specifically for promotion purposes.

Either way you go, it’s important to remember that the ad isn’t going to automatically attract engagement. I suggest creating an effective, pre-meditated post before introducing it to this new audience. Feel free to test it out with your followers and gauge the reception before pushing it out.

Content

I know in 2015 it’s a well-known faux pas but content still is and always will be king. It’s the core of your marketing efforts. You should only be boosting/promoting your posts if you have constructive content that lines up with your overarching Facebook goals. Make sure you aren’t pushing something that your audience doesn’t want to see.

Most importantly, make sure you are promoting your own content. You always want to link back to your own page, not someone else’s.

Classic examples of an effective content strategy include groundbreaking faculty research, campus news, or creative media such as graphics or videos.

To provide an example of promoting content, I’ve created a sample school who designed an interesting infographic based on faculty research that discusses the top 5 civil engineering failures in history that have led to design breakthroughs. The goal is to increase engagement and drive traffic to the university page, where the graphic is hosted. I chose to align it with a current event that is mentioned in the graphic, specifically, the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Writing the copy

This is an extremely important piece to the engagement puzzle. My general rule of thumb for copy length is either to shorten the text to twitter length or keep it under 2 lines. 140 characters may seem short, but simplicity is critical.

Copy1

Keep the tone casual. A promoted tone would stand out in your audience’s news feed. You want it to blend in. If someone recognizes a post as an ad they are less likely to interact with it.

The power editor, which you will use to promote your post after you’ve built it out and posted it organically, lets you tag other pages. This is an excellent way to make a post seem more organic and less promotional.

Below is a quick step-by-step guide on how to advertise a page post through the power editor after it has been posted organically on a page.

Promoting Posts

If you’re adding a link to the post (which you should), be sure to delete the link text in the post after the link has uploaded to clean it up. After the link has uploaded a preview to your post, you can safely remove the link text without removing the link itself.

Copy2

The next step is to alter the link text. Facebook allows you to change the preview text of your link to whatever you want. Again, keep it short and sweet. You can see my example below.

To encourage interaction, add a question. To create an action, add a CTA. However, people scrolling their newsfeed won’t want to stop on a six line post description that pitches them about enrolling, so make sure to tone down the pitch. As obvious as it sounds, people aren’t interested in being pitched; they’re interested in things that are interesting! Peak their curiosity, keep it concise, tighten the focus on the content.

Copy3

Images

While it may be the last thing you think about, the image will be the very first thing your audience is going to see. And YES, you NEED to have an image with your post unless you are promoting a video. I would recommend creating a custom image rather than letting the link pull one.

Dimensions for a promoted/boosted post image are 1200x628px.

Use either a high quality photograph or a customized design. The more eye-catching the image, the more likely someone will stop to look at it on their news feed. Consider bright colors, simplicity and don’t forget to keep the focus on your chosen target audience. You can see the image I’ve created below.

post

Probably the biggest issue with boosted/promoted posts is the infamous 20% rule. This controls the amount of text you are allowed to have in your image for a boosted or promoted post and limits it to only 20% of the total image size. To find out if your image qualifies, you can use their integrated grid tool.

You can see I uploaded my image the first time and it didn’t qualify for Facebook’s restrictions. The second time, I shrunk the text down and it fit within the parameters.

Grid1

Grid2

If you don’t have a graphic designer or freelancer, I would recommend using Canva. Canva is a great tool for inexperienced designers and you should definitely be incorporating it with your social strategy. Input custom dimensions of 1200 x 628 and upload an image of your school or whatever you may be promoting. Feel free to use Canva’s tools on the left hand side to add graphics and typography (but not too much).

Conclusion

Establish your goals for the campaign ahead of time. Don’t go into a Facebook ad campaign not knowing if you want to drive links to your site, get likes on your page, or boost engagement in your community. Each objective involves different tactics. Defining a strategy isn’t just the core element to your post’s success; it’s how you measure your success.

JordanJordan Opel is an accomplished, creative professional. He is responsible for managing and enhancing social media activities for various universities. Additionally, as the leading graphic designer, he contributes to a significant portion of Circa Interactive’s creative endeavors with motion-media design, illustration, and content-creation experience.

Creating Custom Images from Scratch – University Events

Content is Still King

Creativity is becoming more and more commonplace throughout the various facets of marketing and promotion. Gaining a creative edge is crucial for successful higher-education marketing campaigns, and it can be difficult working without a (generally expensive) creative professional. This is a guide to help the everyday marketer design his/her own custom images without an internal designer.

Custom images convey a personal message that can be manipulated and tailored to multiple instances and events. Rather than stock images or campus/student photos, custom images show that you took the time and effort to create something for a specific occasion. They derive a sense of personality. Audiences are much more likely to interact with something they find personal over a corporate entity. Custom images can help your branding, link building endeavors and social media campaigns. They are extremely versatile.

Adobe illustrator is by far the most popular and well-rounded tool to create custom images and graphics. Through the Adobe Creative Cloud, you can download Adobe Illustrator for $20/month or you can get the entire Adobe suite for $50/month.

Creating Your First Custom Image

Start with a square

  • Most social media platforms acknowledge squares as a standard image shape. Square images will be your safest bet for social media post integration.
  • Go to the shape tool on the left side of the screen, click and hold to bring up a drop-down menu and select the rectangle option. Shift-click to draw a large square.
  • The bigger the better, you can always reduce pixel dimensions and retain image quality but not the other way around.

1

  • Remove the border around the square so that only the “fill” remains.

2

3

Add Your University Colors

  • To retain brand consistency, use the eyedropper tool to add your university colors.
  • Click on the square you made and ensure the “fill” is selected rather than the “stroke” or outline.

4

  • Make sure the illustrator window isn’t taking up your full screen and that you can see something on your screen that has the colors you want to use. I would suggest your school logo.
  • Click on the eyedropper tool, and then click on the inside of your square and HOLD the mouse button. Drag the eyedropper tool to your university color (outside the illustrator window).

5

  • The square should now have copied the color you want. Click on the swatches panel and go to add new swatch. Your new color should show up in a pop-up window. Click ok and your new color will now be in your library for you to use consistently.

6

  • Repeat this process for any other colors you wish to import.
  • (Your university most likely has an extensive brand standards document outlining the various official university colors. This is definitely something to consider implementing if your school doesn’t have one already.)

7

Create a Gradient (Optional)

  • Click on your square and click the gradient button on the RIGHT side of the screen. There is one on the left as well, ignore it for now.
  • Make sure your square’s fill is selected.
  • Click on the square on the top left corner of the gradient box to make your shape into a gradient.

8

  • Add your custom colors by clicking and dragging them from your swatches library into the gradient window.
  • You can use the gradient tool on the LEFT tool column to change the orientation of the gradient.

9

Add Icons

10

  • Note: Illustrator, like most digital workspaces, works in layers. If you ever want to bring forward or send back a certain layer, such as text, icons or shapes, simply use the key commands “Command + ]” to move forward and “Command + [” to move backward.

Add Text

11

  • Adjust Kearning (spacing between letters) by clicking the orange “character” button at the top of the screen.
  • Resize different lines to create more depth and highlight certain phrases or words.

12

  • Change the color of the text. Feel free to match your school’s brand or branch out and use new and unconventional color options. Again, I’d stick to no more than three colors overall for your custom image.

Add your Brand

  • Lastly, add your University Logo somewhere.
  • Add hashtags and/or the event theme, slogan or motto.
  • Refer to spacing restrictions and brand procedures procured by your institution. Many universities have necessary white space restrictions in regards to logo placement.

You can see my final design below. I added a couple white text boxes with the rounded rectangle shape tool to add more depth and help the text and logo stand out. I’ve also added opacity characteristics to the text boxes.

OU Russ Prize Image

5 tips for Higher Education Twitter Marketing

It’s apparent that twitter has exploded in digital marketing. But it isn’t confined to advertising in the slightest. From churchgoers to third graders, everybody tweets! Short and oh so sweet, Twitter is a must have for higher education marketing. As social media is a beast of many forms, twitter too has limitless applications. It’s much more than a forum for pushing news about what’s happening on your campus. It’s about creating communities and ethnographies around your school.Higher Ed Twitter

 

The way I’ve always thought about twitter is as a miniature blogging platform. Condensing an article-length idea down to 140 characters and retaining high quality content is always a challenge but can be extremely powerful. You don’t have to be a writer to create a successful twitter campaign. I’ve represented numerous universities on behalf of their social media presence and have compiled 5 tips that can make an immediate impact on your twitter campaign.

 

1. Find a personality, build a community. Twitter users want to talk to a person, not a post-scheduling robot. And they definitely don’t want recruitment-style posts thrown at them. It’s important to “hide your marketing” when using twitter. Simply put, it comes across naive to the youthful demographic of social networkers to use twitter as an advertising platform. Traditional marketing is great for your website, e-mail, and print, but Web 2.0 is more about having personality and driving engagement. So keep your contenimage_thumb2t quality and your messaging genuine. Don’t be afraid to step outside the box a little bit. Social media takes practice and finding a routine that works for your school will take some time.

 

2. Don’t send messages via auto-responders. There are sites out there that will spam your new followers as soon as they follow you, which is a horrible first impression. Don’t use these. It’s very robotic and lacks a human element. Don’t get me wrong; twitter messaging can be really useful for direct, personalized queries. If you do send a message to someone it should be about a customized issue or in response to a question or message you received. However, automatic “Thanks for following XYZ University!” messages are static and do nothing but fill up your followers’ inboxes.

3.   Create multiple twitter accounts. Get specific! When targeting leads and conversion, make accounts for each of your universities schools such as law, health, business, etc. For a more internal approach create separate accounts for school news, alumni, admissions, athletics, student life, etc. This way, you can really target a specific niche and post relevant content that users will actually enjoy. What a concept!? The more accounts the better. Just be sure to stay active and up to date throughout your twittersphere.  Maybe add a note here – while it’s great to have a lot of accounts you must ensure you have the resources to effectively manage them – also the owners of each account should communicate regularly on content pushed, ideas, voice, etc

 

4. Don’t only push your own content. Twitter is a main news source for some people. Tweet articles or blog posts by your favorite news sites or bloggers. This brings me to another point. If it is quality content, it reflects well on your institution. Quality content is everything in social media. Don’t limit yourself to articles; think program-relevant visual resources such as infographics or videos. Not too long though, Ted Talks or RSA Animate videos are good examples. Who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky enough to be retweeted by the original poster, which could give your school more exposure and a lot of credit. Just don’t forget to tweet “@” them in your post.

 

5. Adapt to change. It’s a pretty basic rule of thumb for, well, anything, but specifically let’s take a look at the brand new twitter profiles. You’re probably wondering, how will this change affect marketers in 2014? What are the benefits and downsides? One of the most noticeable things about the change is how similar the user profiles look to that of Facebook. Profile picture and header image placement is extremely similar. They’ve also removed background images altogether, putting heavy emphasis on the profile and header images. This new look doesn’t really change anything; just remember to update your accounts for the new design. The twitter basics such as character count, retweets, favorites and replies are here to stay. twitter-new-profile-twitter-170214What DOES make a difference, however, is the system they’ve added for “popular tweets”, featuring them in a larger text size that definitely stands out. This is sure to lead to higher engagement for certain posts and further highlights the importance of quality content.

 

 

When it comes down to it, quality will always prevail, no matter what the future has in store. Stick to this guideline and you’ll be sure to see an improvement in engagement and followership for your university.

 

 

The Value in Video

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Finding new ways to attract viewers has always been a challenge in the SEO world. When it comes down to it, ranking a website in the long term is not just about building a large number of links. It’s also about creating high-quality content that will attract links naturally over time. It’s the age-long battle of quality vs. quantity, and it has become fairly clear that the newest contender in SEO is online video.

Do your Marketing Basics

The first step in any effective communications-style campaign is understanding your audience. To ensure effective communication, think primarily about the people you want to view the video. Whether you’re targeting prospective students, student parents, undergrads, or professors, each video will serve a unique and distinctive purpose that should not be transparent throughout your other demographics. By putting yourself in their shoes, you will gain insight into what they want to know and how they want to be addressed. With this in mind, the distribution and formulation of your videos should correlate with each respective goal and message in mind. By appealing to these audiences, a video’s sense of quality will increase which will, in turn, lead to more visibility from an SEO standpoint as well.    Video-Marketing-Strategies

Time is Money

Lets talk about Google for a second. One way that Google recognizes sites that are high in quality is by measuring how long a viewer stays on the page. Obviously, if it is an interesting and high quality site, someone’s going to stay for a longer period of time. A high bounce rate could be an indicator of a lower quality page, while a ‘long click’ — more time spent on a page — identifies a better domain in the eyes of a search engine. Needless to say, video offers an unprecedented opportunity to capture and engage viewers in a way that other forms of media simply lack. Placing program overview videos, digital tours or faculty interviews is a great way of implementing this strategy and can be done at a very low cost.

This is a great example of an interactive campus tour video provided by St. Michaels College:

Allowing the viewer to engage with your site is proving to add more and more value as quality is becoming more targeted.

Video on the SERP

Aside from the added viewing time and quality given to your programs pages, video helps to differentiate your brand on the search engine results page (SERP) through a video thumbnail result. Zappos, for example, created 50,000 product description videos in 2009 and doubled their linking domains. It should be unproblematic to take lessons like this and apply them to a schools program/department. Here is a step-by-step walkthrough for getting these video results on the SERP:

  1. Add keywords in a video title such as “Tutorial”, “Review”, “Explanation”, “Tour”, etc. to help identify/organize content and provide a shortcut to what your potential viewers are looking for. Keep it simple and to the point.
  2. When hosting your videos, be sure to use sites such as Vimeo Pro, Wistia, Vzaar or Viddler. Do NOT use a regular vimeo account or youtube as their domains will rank for your video on their site rather than your own domain.
  3. Embed videos via an HTML5 player with flash fallback. All of the listed hosting recommendations above should include this option.
  4. This one’s important. Surround the video with information. Images, links and text help search engines recognize a quality page, so make sure your video at least comes with a text description. A page with only video content on it can look very thin. An easy way of doing this is to provide faculty bios/pictures or student testimonials.
  5. A video sitemap is the main way of giving search engines rich meta-data about your video. Wistia offers sitemap generation at the price of a $25/month subscription. Refer to this video for further sitemap guidance:

Make it Sharable

Let people spread your content. Placing linked social icons on your video page only facilitates the endeavor to get your video into the world. If you’re looking for the basics I’d recommend getting the code from TwitterFacebook and Google directly or throwing the “AddThis” widget on any page. Additionally, make your video embeddable, so others can throw it up and you can get further SEO value. For a quick guide on getting inbound link benefits from embedded videos, see here.

Social Networking Concept

When it comes to video, as with all other content, quality is key. With search engine algorithms getting tighter and tighter, it’s crucial to stand out not only for branding purposes, but to enhance your algorithmic SEO value as well. Along with these simple steps for recognition, having quality content should provide you with a multitude of benefits that can be translated into both the physical and digital worlds.