We all have different tools and resources that make our jobs easier. No matter what hat, or hats, you might wear at your small business, you probably have a few go-to sites or tricks you use every day. Here are our favorite resources we can’t live without, they’re tools for every business:
Devon’s Favorite Twitter Profiles
This tweet from @APStylebook caught my eye a month and a half ago. As someone who grew up both surfing the ‘net and writing quite a bit, “Internet” has always been capitalized. It was a proper noun and was treated as such. But the times, they are a-changing. And thankfully I follow the AP Stylebook on Twitter. After all, how embarrassing would it be to still be saying “Internet” after June 1?
Stylebooks are the greatest tools any writer or editor could have. Even if you don’t write a lot, anyone who writes any content at all for a business should have a stylebook to reference. My go-to grammar guide is Associated Press. They’re the most widely used style guide because of how in-depth it is. Their Twitter feed is full of grammar advice in 140 characters or less. Don’t miss the next earth-shattering grammar rule change!
My go-to style guide for all internet-related topics is Buzzfeed’s. I consult it regularly to remember how to capitalize “Google” when using it as a verb (hint: it’s lowercase), or how to keep the different elements of Twitter straight (Twitter, tweets, RT’d, RTs, etc.). They also have a solid Twitter presence @styleguide that RTs useful articles like this one from the Verge.
Audrey’s Favorite Software
I use Adobe Photoshop every day. As a graphic designer, this is probably a “duh” kind of statement, but I think this tool is incredibly useful in the business and marketing worlds no matter who you are. Images are everywhere. The brain processes an image 60,000 times faster than text. As a small business owner, that’s something you should definitely be capitalizing on. In order to incorporate more visual storytelling in your marketing, having a basic knowledge of Photoshop will be incredibly useful.
I know Photoshop can be overwhelming when first using it, but you don’t have to know how to use every feature in order to benefit from what it has to offer. I still don’t even know everything about Photoshop! But for those of you who feel intimidated by the program, here are a few simple features to start with:
- Image size – (Go to: Image > Image Size) This is super helpful when posting images on your website. To avoid slowing down your website load time, make sure your images are sized appropriately. A good general rule is to size the longer side of your image around 1000 pixels or less. Keep in mind that 1000px is on the bigger side of the scale for a web image.
- Image editing – (Go to: Image > Adjustments > Levels) I love the Levels tool for adjusting lighting on images. Even just a little adjustment can make a huge difference in the overall appearance of the image, giving it that extra pop to catch the eye. A good general rule is to adjust the sliders at the bottom to the edge of the curve (see screenshots). You can do this with both the black and white sliders depending on what your curve looks like. On an image with bad lighting, the input levels curve may be very one-sided as seen in these images. But keep in mind that this is just a guideline, so make sure to have the preview box checked in order to see how your image changes with the adjustments you make. Every image is different, so play around with it and do what you think looks best!
- Text – (the ‘T’ tool on the left-side toolbar) Adding text to your image is a great way to make a simple graphic for a blog or social media post. This way you’re catching people’s eyes with the image but then giving them more information to hook them. Give it a try!
Carrie’s Favorite RSS Feed
I learned a lot from a book called The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawaski. One chapter, titled “Feeding the Content Monster,” discusses the difficulty of finding enough content to share on social media.
I agree that it’s challenging to gather interesting, entertaining and relevant content to post every day. Sharing user-generated content, or creating your own, are two ways to feed the monster. However, an easier way to discover useful content could be using an RSS feed.
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Popular platforms such as Reddit, Pinterest or Feedly (my favorite), pull content from the internet and organize it into categories. A user can select a category of interest and browse through current articles, blog posts, videos and more.
I use Feedly to read about topics such as marketing, social media and graphic design. When searching for great content to post on social media, I use it to find current news articles or how-to blogs.
Being over-promotional on social media is one of the largest mistakes to make. That’s why it’s crucial to find compelling content that may or may not directly relate to an organization’s industry or target audience. Feedly helps me post content that I genuinely want to share with friends, and it can help organizations do the same. For more social media tips, check out this article.
Chase’s Favorite Resource
I spend quite a few hours each week on Facebook Ads analyzing clickthrough rates, demographics, conversions and average cost-per-clicks. This information is important to determining how successful an ad is, but it becomes much more valuable when I’m able to compare them with industry averages. That’s why I”m glad I have Salesforce’s Advertising Index.
I reference Salesforce’s Advertising Index frequently when I’m generating our client’s monthly reports because it breaks down just about every ad metric across multiple industries and countries. With this information, I’m able to see that an ad I created for a restaurant which has a clickthrough rate of 2.41% is higher than the industry average of 2.02%. This information is more valuable to our clients and allows me to know that this ad is more successful than the average restaurant ad.
If you would like help tracking the success of your online advertising, contact us and we’ll give you a free consultation. We’ll even buy you coffee!