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Want more customers? Tools to make you more visual (in 10 minutes or less)


As the days get darker and our attention spans get shorter, more and more Marketers are relying on pictures to tell their stories.

Above it a photo of my lunch (blame it on no nutrition Friday), and although the packaging all looks very normal, it's the last lines, which made me share it. Somebody, somewhere has taken the time to add a bit of humour to the mundane, which in turn has prompted me to share the image. See how it works? A simple visual in an unexpected place was all it took to convey the personality of this fudge maker.

Today there are some great tools available to help you share your brand in words and pictures. Here are some of my favourites.


Canva

I have no tech or design skills which has made Canva my new best friend. The free version is packed with easy to follow tutorials, tips and tricks, to make you a legend in your lunch-hour. Upload your own photos or pay a minimal fee and browse the library of images available. You'll also find layout ideas and guidance on font families to make sure your message reaches your audience, loud and clear.


Flipboard


Equally easy to use, Flipboard lets you create a social magazine in moments. Curate interesting articles relevant to your audience and publish them online to provide instant value. Ipad, iphone and Android users can then view these links as a page turning book, full of glossy images, making it easy for readers to seek out and digest the articles that appeal to them. And since Flipboard users can save their favourites as they go along, there's no end to the long tail appeal.

Pinterest


If you're not using Pinterest yet - where have you been since 2009? Probably the most obvious visual communication tool, it's a feast for the eyes, letting you create virtual pinboards of images taken from anywhere on the internet. Each pin retains the link to its source so you can do more research on your own and image creators get the recognition they deserve. More and more retailers are using Pinterest to showcase their offerings and differentiate themselves from the competition and now that you can purchase directly from pins (at least if you live in the US), this tool can only grow in popularity.

Instagram


With more users than Twitter, Instagram has become the new visual hangout for individuals and businesses alike. The hashtags associated with your photos make your content more searchable and shareable than any other platform and the opportunities to connect and be noticed are huge. Instagram have recently introduced advertising to the mix and while the jury is still out on this one, there's no doubt that Instagram is currently the hottest place for your company to be found.


Visual.ly


Here it's all about infographics and data visualization (word clouds), to help you create something visually pleasing from the cold hard facts. Infogr.am is another infographic maker worth considering in this space. Rather than wrestle with an excel spreadsheet or a three page definition of what something means, make a picture - your readers will thank you by sharing your insights.


Quozio


Turn your quotes into works of art, via this simple but clever little tool. Inside you'll find a variety of templates, fonts and colour ways to help you express yourself. Just type in your words and see them take on a whole new look. Great for jazzing up your presentations.


PicMonkey


Easy photo editing to make you look like a Photoshop genius. From little touch up to transformations, unique visual content can be yours in no time. There are lots of similar photo manipulation tools out there, but PicMonkey and BeFunky are good, intuitive starting points. Try both and see which feels most natural to you, then go, create.


Unsplash


In the spirit of the collaborative economy, Unsplash provides regularly updated, free to download photos for every occasion. So much more interesting than standard stock imagery, it can instantly change the look and feel of your content, especially if you use it in conjunction with one of the photo manipulation tools.


With so many free or relatively cheap routes open to us, even those lacking in artistic flair can get themselves seen. Which tools would you recommend?



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Are you working with the Adams family or the Brady Bunch?


I've had a bit of a revelation at work this week.  It seems that social media is driven by nepotism. Doh!

Though we tend to think about the various social media platforms as individuals, we should actually be viewing them as families.  Dig just below the surface and they are all interrelated, which means that social media optimisation (SMO), the term used for all the activities you do to ensure visibility of your brand, is now more important than ever.

Knowing how the platforms link, lets you decide where to focus your efforts and the content to produce to increase engagement and build your reputation.  In other words, consider how each social media tool encourages sharing and whether they are trusted by the audiences you're trying to reach, before you rush to create a Facebook page or a Youtube channel.

Choose tactics that play to your strengths as a company and attract your customers, but remember that imagery, video and high quality content need to be part of your plan no matter which platform you use. They may be different families, but they're all run by humans.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list it's worth remembering that

Google owns Google+ and Youtube

Yahoo owns Tumblr and Flickr

LinkedIn owns Slideshare, Pulse and Bizo

Facebook owns Instagram and Whatsup

Twitter owns Vine and Periscope

Just as families favour their own, the biggest social media sites aim to maximise visibility across their channels, so make sure you create content in the most shareworthy format for each group.  Hubspot recently did a great blog piece if you need inspiration.

Which do you favour?





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