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 Shy away from anything related to news pegs, outdated statistics, or trends.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.

14257661_10153908399579607_2261860791139873093_o

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.

pulse_stats

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.

ag-create-new-twitter-moment

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.

 

 

Link Building Strategies: Three Evergreen Content Ideas

In the world of search engine optimization and ranking factors, the most important correlation to search engine result page (SERP) ranking was found to be the number of backlinks and overall link authority. Moreover, with over 70% of users clicking on first page results, universities are always looking for ways to get their programs to jump up the rankings. So you may be asking, ‘How can I create content that naturally attracts backlinks and will rise in the SERPs?’ The best way to attract backlinks is by creating evergreen content that is high quality and relevant to your audience. Evergreen content is up-to-date, instructional content that does not lose its value over time and is created so searchers can reference it as a source over and over again. Today you’re in luck because I’m about to present to you three types of evergreen content that can be utilized right here, right now.

Types of Evergreen Content:

  • Infographic/Visual
  • Industry Expert Roundups
  • Informative and High Utility Content

Infographic Visuals

Infographics are a fantastic way to build links to program specific pages, which will help increase your overall Google rankings. If you didn’t know already, the number of backlinks linking to a specific page has the strongest correlation with rankings compared to any other factor. This includes domain history, title tags, and optimized keyword pages. When infographics are built with reliable statistics and appealing design, these visuals resources will make you appear as a thought leader within specific industries and enable you to naturally gain links. Evergreen infographics are based on newsworthy, current trends and show in-depth statistics on specific topics that relate to a university’s program curriculum. When a university builds an infographic around trending news stories or case studies, they are able to take what may seem like a complex idea or boring subject and turn it into a easy to understand visualization. Below I have provided some fascinating facts from Kissmetrics on why infographics perform so well in this digital age;

  • High quality infographics are 30 times more likely to be read than text articles.
  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.
  • Infographics are 40 times more likely to be shared on social networks.

In your opinion, what looks better, Image 1 or Image 2?

Image 1 is a journal study explaining the challenges of storing medical imaging data

Image 2 is a medical imaging infographic explaining the same information.

Image 1

digital imaging journal

Image 2

imaging archives infographic

If I do say so myself, Image 2 is softer on the eyes and helps to break down this complex information so any non-technical reader can understand it. The icons give the viewer a great understanding on what the subject is about without having to read the detailed material.

Now that we understand why publications post these visual resources, the next step is to understand how to build an infographic around a topic that is considered link worthy.  As we discussed above, the best performing infographics are built around newsworthy time pegs and trending current events. To identify newsworthy time pegs, I believe our creative director, Joseph Lapin, has the best approach. He tells our team to consistently look at the front page of the newspaper to find out what editors from top publications, such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, deem to be the major stories in the U.S. and throughout the world. If these publications are putting these stories on their front page, then it shows insight on what topics are most newsworthy while showcasing developing trends within the news curve. Once you understand which topics are repeatedly gaining traction, you can build infographics based around these trending stories and immediately pitch them to publications. With graphics built around such hot topics, they can be leveraged throughout the whole news cycle which can help program pages gain a number of valuable links.

news curve

Infographics should be built using studies and statistics from a number of publications ranging from high level organizations to niche blogs. Each source should be seen as a link building and relationship development opportunity, because the publication you use as sources are very likely to share the infographic with their audience. If we step back and think about this for a second, we can understand why it would be more valuable to have 20 sources instead of 10. In the end, it is a numbers game and the more sources used, the more link building opportunities there are! For instance, Circa Interactive created an infographic on Creative Ways to Make Higher Education More Affordable. In each visualization, sources are included at the bottom of the graphic.

source link building

For each source, an outreach message should be sent to the editor at that site. Here is a real outreach email I used to gain links through from infographic sources.

outreach for source links

Helpful infographic resources:

Industry Expert Roundups

In marketing and communication, a roundup is a term that is used to describe the collection of popular resources that are highlighted to build one article. Expert roundups are no different, except that instead of using popular informative resources, industry experts are utilized to create an comprehensive analysis on a particular subject. Expert roundups are relatively easy to structure and publish, but there is some groundwork needed in the beginning. First, your content creation team will need creatively come up with a keyword rich question that your experts will answer. The question needs to be based on a keyword that your program wants to rank on Google’s first page. This is important because when searchers view your page and see the expert knowledge being freely shared than they are more likely to link back and reference to a collection of experts compared to a personal opinion. Here is a quick example: Let’s say you want to rank for the keyword “future of artificial intelligence” and the blog post title is ‘32 Expert’s Future Vision of Artificial Intelligence’. A great question to ask your industry experts could be “What is one or two major advancements you envision happening within artificial intelligence over the next 5 years?”

Having developed the question, the next step is to scour the web looking for industry experts talking about similar topics in the artificial intelligence industry. You’ll want to create an outreach list that is three or four times the number of your intended expert commentaries that will be placed in your blog. The best way to identify potential experts in your industry is by using Google News and Followerwonk.

followerwonk

I used Followerwonk for this example, a tool that searches through Twitter bios and highlights the the top users related to specific keywords. Within the top six results, there are two great artificial intelligence experts who should be added to your  list. They are both executives within the big data and artificial intelligence field with a high number of followers. Keep in mind that you intent is to gain a link back and social shares from these experts because you are freely sharing their expertise. We want to show our own personal audiences that we are featured on another site so we can get the recognition we think we deserve.

Once you identify the top industry experts and build your list, it is time to send your outreach message. The outreach message should be a short blurb complementing their expertise and asking them if they would be interested in being featured within your post. If you don’t get a response back from them, follow up a week later and emphasis the benefit they are getting by giving you a quick one to three sentence response.

 

joey outreach


Once you begin to receive responses, structure the blog with the experts who were quick to respond to your question towards the top of the article. This will flatter them because you chose to feature them within your top ten experts. The next focus should be adding the experts who you expect to get a link back from. The best way to actually gain a link  is by not directly asking them to link to the article. I know it sounds crazy, but by simply thanking them for their time and expertise, the flattery works a lot better than aggressively begging for a link. When sending the experts the “thank you” message, it is extremely similar to the infographic source email. The main difference in this outreach is to create a pre-populated tweet with in the email so all the expert has to do is press one button to share with their follower base. Free services such as
ClicktoTweet allow you to create tweets in quickly. Feel free to use my email below as your template.

joey outreach 2

Helpful expert roundups examples:

 

Informative and High Utility Content

Recent studies have shown that longer pieces of content between 1,700 and 2,000 words rank higher in Google position. The average first page results having at 1,890 words.

length of content and rankings

There are a few ranking factors that also correlate with longer posts, which include time on page, more social shares, and lower bounce rates because more users will browse other content on your site. Still, these longer post must be made of high quality content because if not, they are worthless words and filling up cyberspace. That is something Google hates to see. 

What determines quality you may ask? It all comes down to whether  the content is informative to the audience and has some form of usability that can be implemented by your readers. According to Brian Dean, one of the top link-building marketers of our time, longer, high utility content strikes a sense of awe into the audience, meaning that when a reader visits a page that has a lot of useful information they understand how much work was put into that post and they are more likely to return to that site over and over again seeking similar content.

brian backlinko quote

Here at Circa Interactive, our team likes to produce a multitude of content ideas because different audience respond to different types of articles including listicles, how to guides, and in-depth evergreen content. I’d like to show you a recent example of evergreen content that was created by our own lead graphic designer, Jordan Opel.

12 Techniques to Help You Learn Adobe Illustrator

This is a great example of high quality, informative content that focuses on a specific audience and the knowledge inside this article can be applied immediately regardless of your knowledge about Adobe Illustrator. In total, the 12 techniques for the Illustrator article has 5199 words. Content length has a direct impact on the number of average shares and links a piece of content receives. Moz conducted research on 489,000 text based articles. Here are their findings:

moz content length


As you can see , it is apparent that content length is incredibly  important when developing content for your site. So when creating content  do not forget these three types of evergreen content that will enable you to build links back to your university pages.


If you found this article helpful in anyway do not hesitate to leave a comment below. I would love to hear any feedback you may have about topic and know what type of evergreen content ideas you use in your organization.

 

andersonidea

Austin Anderson is a forward-thinking, motivated marketing specialist. Before Circa, Austin ran an e-commerce business and managed online marketing for startups in San Diego. Austin strives to be a future influencer in the world of digital marketing. Connect with Austin on LinkedIn and Twitter @andersonidea.

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.

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.