Friday, 29 June 2012

#FindOutFriday - Summer School Series, Lesson 4: How to Build a STRONG Social Media Catalogue...

One of the staple things that I work on with each of the brands within the ESP Family, is building a solid foundation network for all of you lovely readers; so that you can access all of the latest information and content that we produce. Using most of these sites daily, I'm fairly confident in the use of them; but in bringing my own catalogue up to date and looking at ways to expand over the past few weeks, I was surprised at how little helpful advice exists in what you would think were the most obvious of places!

So this week, with the help of my own personal Web & Graphic Design Superheroine - better known to you all as the lovely Charli-Anne (have another read of her #FindOutFriday if you need reminding of her never-ending super powers...I mean multi-talents); we're going to look at what a Social Media Catalogue actually is, how you can create your own and finally how to use relevant Social Media to your advantage. By no means are we claiming our methods to be the best, we're just going to share a few of the tidbits that have gotten Us the biggest response from You...Shall we get started?

Social...Media...What Now?

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, ReverbNation, Soundcloud, WordPress, Blogspot...

All of these and many, many more, are the Medium that most of us  use to keep up with the latest from our friends, family, people and topics of interest. Twitter didn't settle on the term 'Trend' for nothing; it's the shorter, more effective (and less annoying) equivalent of a Hilton-esque, "That's Hot" Seal of Approval. Whether for personal or professional use, most of us have built ourselves a catalogue. With the added ability of direct interaction, that's when online storage becomes our own Social Network.

Now this is the point where I take my technophobic Mother and make her my muse - see? You DO inspire me...What if you now understand what a Social Media Catalogue IS, you want to start building your own, but don't know how to go about prettying it up and avoiding the dreaded Spam Trap? Read on Class, this is the Tony Hart vs. Blue Peter in 4D part. Or for you non-80's Babies of the BBC-era; here's where the Expert takes over...

Charli-Anne's Cyber Creative Corner

Ever wondered how you can make your Social Media profiles say WOW? Well when it comes to graphics, there are ways to do this well and ways to do it badly! Read on to find out how to avoid the classic mistakes and follow some simple tips to create your own slick graphics!

The Avatar - and we don't mean the blue thingies...

ESP Twitter
This is a graphical representation of YOU, The User. It is usually square in shape, no bigger than 150 pixels squared and used as the thumbnail (miniature) image for your profiles. This could be a photograph of yourself or if you are a business, you could use this tiny graphic in a number of ways:

  • The Logo - Simply shrink down your logo to fit in the box
  • The 'Alt' Logo - This is far more effective in my opinion, as most logos distort and become illegible when shrunk down. Your 'Alt' logo needs to be a bite-size version of your actual logo, so it's important to stick to the same fonts and colours.
  • The Random Image - You could use an image of one of your products or something that represents you, or what you are currently promoting. But remember - the less detail in the image, the better!
TOP TIP! When using a photo, create a great graphic by focusing in on one small, but interesting square of the image and crop it for your avatar!

Photoshop Tidbit: To do this, create an Avatar template file (.jpg or .png), by making a blank square of the correct dimensions (851 x 315 pixels for Facebook, 1040 x 180 for Google Plus, etc.) and saving it. Then simply open it in Photoshop and drag and drop the image you want to use straight into it! You can then just move it around and resize it within the square to see what looks best as an Avatar.

The Facebook Timeline 'Cover' - For Girls, Boys AND Brands...

LIKE Deer Oh Deer on Facebook...

This is the image that appears at the top of the new FB Timeline pages for both personal and business profiles. There are some very strict rules around the use of this area and what you can display, so make sure you are following all of them!  Basically they are:
  • No Price or purchase information
  • No Contact Information or Web Links
  • No reference to 'Liking' or 'Sharing'
  • No Calls to Action (read full list of rules)
Don't despair though! You can still use the cover as a great showcase. You could keep it simple with a product snap; or go all out and create an image incorporating text, photographs and graphic elements, without breaking any of the rules - just think creatively! ;)

TOP TIP! Take a funny snap of yourself pointing up and use that as your Avatar! This will not only make people laugh, but it will let people know that you want them to look at your 'Cover' image above!

Photoshop Tidbit: Create a brightly coloured square and place it in the area where your Avatar will overlap, so that you can see how it will look on your page. Make sure you keep the square as the top 'Layer' and you might want to make it slightly translucent using the 'Opacity' slider, so that you can see what you are doing in other layers.

The Wallpaper Background - you won't find these in B&Q...

Twitter, YouTube, MySpace and Tumblr are all good examples of sites that encourage you to fully customise your profile / home page. The best aspect of this is that you can upload your own background image so really, the Sky is the limit! They all have different size specifications and upload size limitations (try 1350 x 605 for Twitter, but you will have to tweak for the new 'Let's Fly' update; file size is maximum 800kb), but you could create one great branded image that can be adapted for use across all sites (with a bit more tweaking)!

Follow Drassick DIGITAL on Twitter...

Familiarise yourself with the areas of a background that are visible and not obscured by a text box, video or image. Use those areas to place images and text. Keep text to a minimum! Just a couple of links and a quote is more than good enough ;)

Follow Lekhem on Twitter...

TOP TIP! Don't be afraid to 'Crop'! Avoid 'stretching' images to fit; it looks much more professional to have images in the correct dimensions, even if you can only see part of them!

Photoshop Tidbit: If your background image doesn't 'fit' the dimensions of your wallpaper, hit the 'Shift' key while you resize it, to stop it from stretching.

In conclusion I would say, if you can afford a Graphic Designer, use one, but Shop Around! You don't always get what you pay for. Equally, don't just go for the cheapest deal! A logo for £20 is NOT going to fully meet your needs, or be bespoke in any way. Look at examples of their work first; give them your deadline before they start and make sure there are no hidden costs!

If you can't afford to pay someone professional, it IS totally possible for you to use simple imagery effectively. If you fancy dabbling in the world of Photoshop but have always been too scared...don't be! There are some great tutorials on the net and you only need to know the basics to create a perfectly good graphic. Just keep it simple, avoid tacky comedy fonts and text effects (these take practice to get right), follow the 'Crop' TOP TIP and you will be good to go!

There is a Graphic Designer in all of us...just remember, less is more!

So now you know what it is, you know how to make it look A+MAZING; the last thing you want to do, is put all your hard work to waste, by placing it in the wrong professional arena...

Share and Share a(nd) LIKE...

Don't just assume that by sticking to one site, you are automatically reaching the biggest and best audience. The Rise of YouTube is doing absolute wonders for Musicians, but the big sites have made it possible for you to integrate your accounts, to match a growing demand. That does not mean you should saturate the net with your content; because you then run the risk of annoying cross-audiences into ignoring you and all your hard work. Don't forget, there is such a thing as a 'trickle effect'! Once your work is out there, your audience will help you share it and Word of Other Mouths have a much greater effect than your own!
Control your distribution by putting it out in the Top 5 sites, but then look for the targeted websites that specialise in what you do. For Kawaii and Vintage-inspired fashion label Deer Oh Deer Ltd., Charli-Anne and I often target Vintage Fashion bloggers and the Japanese Kawaii market.
Lastly; there's no better Social Media base than your own website. Often, musicians don't have the means or ability to get their own together right away. Prior to the launch of LekLane last October; Lekhem and I used his ReverbNation account to it's fullest capacity as, for an indie artist-based website, it covered absolutely every aspect that we needed to present, while we began building his foundation and encouraged the customisation that Charli-Anne spoke of earlier.

Follow Jelli Ltd. on Twitter
And there you have it for this week! Huge thanks to super-talented Expert, our very own Charli-Anne; I don't know about you, but I've got some updates to make! For more of her a+mazing creations, connect with her works and services through the Jelli Ltd. Social Media Catalogue!

We hope you enjoyed this week's lesson - feedback, as always, is appreciated via the comment box below!

See you soon!
ES ;)