Everything comes full circle, even web design. You might not have seen it yet, but there’s a new trend in town, and its name is flat web design. It’s capturing the industry, and the thing is it’s actually existed since Microsoft unveiled it in 2006.
So why is a design “flat”?
Flat design is seen as simple, bright solid colors, plenty of white space, plus the lack of drop shadows, gradients, and textures that were a major element of a web designer’s arsenal for a while now. Often typography plays a leading role in flat web design. Flat web design is a “smooth” solution whose aim is to eliminate as many decorative elements of a “3D” type look as is feasible.
So why the change from 3D to flat design?
The reason making the most sense is that designers find it harder and harder to cram all the elements of a 3D design into a world full of mobile screens. The 4 inch limitations placed on this have made moving to a simpler, more compact and functional user experience right out of the gate. This combined with making pages load faster, and have far more responsiveness is vital in a mobile world where seconds count.
Trend or is flat web design here to stay?
The jury remains out on that, but the reality is if it is a trend, parts of it may be difficult to dismiss quickly. Apple is rumored to be considering a flat design for the next operating system, the iOS7. If it does turn out to be a fad, the simplicity and user-friendly functionality of flat web design might give it a lengthier shelf life than you may think!
Do you SoLoMo? Yes, I realize that may sound like the newest offering from the Starbucks menu, but the acronym actually stands for social, local, mobile. What you do need to do however, is wrap your head around why SoLoMo is an extremely significant concept and marketing tool for your small business to utilize.
What is SoLoMo and how can it help your small business?
The melding of these three distinct technologies was bound to happen. As mobile devices become more and more advanced, enabling geo-location services to track every move, it was only a small step into empowering businesses to send notifications to nearby customers. Research conducted recently by the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows that around 74 percent of smartphone users use them to get information, and approximately 18 percent are using them to check in on local businesses with services like Foursquare. It has brought about both an opportunity and a challenge. A growing number of mobile users are searching for local products and services, and if your company is not using its social media to connect and draw these individuals who are out there roaming the streets seeking something to do, eat or buy. It’s your task to make sure they find you before they find someone else!
3 Ways to engage with SoLoMo
- Use social media - Through the use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and others to engage and inform your customers and prospects, you’ve found a most effective and low-cost solution to build relationship and energize your brand simultaneously.
- Be visible locally - Make use of local search directories that are suitable for your company, and actively target your local customers.
- Don’t ignore mobile marketing - Use of mobile ads is making more and more sense these days, as ROIs are good, costs are affordable and ad inventory is high. Also, some local advertising solutions are very inexpensive or actually free, such as check in deal on Facebook or FourSquare.
One terrific demonstration of a company that gets SoLoMo is personified by Walgreens. Checking in with Foursquare gives their customers coupons and much more! SoLoMo isn’t going away anytime soon, so make sure you make it happen before your competition does!
If you’re like many a newcomer to social media marketing, and especially Twitter, you may not have a keen understanding of exactly what a #hashtag even is. Let’s clear that up from the start. A hashtag is a convention used on Twitter, (although it can be used in other social media platforms to lead to Twitter) that organizes and categorizes conversations. They’re represented by a # followed by a keyword with no spaces.
Be sure to do your standard research and see if the keyword you’d prefer to use is not employed somewhere else. This is as easy as conducting a little research (a search on Search.Twitter.com) to find out whether or not that #Hashtag is a wise choice. Also, don’t try to make hay with misleading #hashtags, even if they are seriously trending. This will almost assuredly blow up. One more thing: be sure to proofread before you make that #hashtag!
4 Ways to market with #hashtags
- Keep them short and simple - Making your #hashtag brief and to the point is your best bet. Include a couple if need be, such as #apps and #smallbiz, but avoid stringing together a half dozen: it just appears you don’t know what you want to say.
- Make them #hashtags to not forget - Remarkable #hashtags are far more likely to be shared widely. Give consideration to this and you might get your wish and have it go viral.
- Use them on multiple social media channels - A #hashtag isn’t much use if it’s not shared. Although started on Twitter, #hashtags have become employed across multiple social media channels including Facebook, Google , LinkedIn and Pinterest. This assists to instill the #hashtag into the minds of their audience.
- Make use of keywords - If possible, work in your brand or major keywords. This isn’t always feasible, so choose judiciously.
While on the surface it would make perfect sense that the smaller, more agile entrepreneurial companies among us would be the most innovative. You would think this is true. And you also would be wrong. It’s not for a lack of trying or desire. It’s simply that smaller businesses do not have the R & D budgets, the staff, and the vision that larger companies can commission. Needless to say, the challenge for small business innovation is to break past the glass ceiling keeping it from innovating, and actually get into the game! Fewer than half of small businesses were brought into being as the result of a new idea according to a study by Erik Hurst and Benjamin Wild Pugsley of the University of Chicago. They state that most new business is another Me-too venture, offering the already crowded marketplace another grocery, plumber or florist. Little innovation required, and consequently little growth.
So how does a small business get from the morass of just another business to one that is offering new and exciting products and services people are clamoring to try?
4 Methods to develop a culture of innovation in your business!
- Reward and encourage innovation - Give your staff perks and tangible rewards for identifying and helping to implement new and innovative initiatives. Creating some excitement around finding new and better ways to run your business ought to benefit them also.
- Understand your markets’ desires and needs - Keep abreast of the latest trends and ideas within your market. Make sure to be hooked in to all the news and views that are effecting your business, and take action on what you hear and see!
- Be sure to connect with your existing customers - Listening and taking into serious thought what your customers say about not only your business and products, but about what their wish list would contain is vital in helping to understand a direction you may want to explore. Keep the conversation centered around the customer’s problems, and use those to help fashion solutions!
- Be willing to try something new! - Don’t be afraid to be innovative. A great example of a company ready to fill a need is Behance.net, a Web-based platform for creative works, where artists can show their work regardless of their resumes, hoping to turn more ideas into reality.
Marketers hunting for a way to engage and grow their reach would be well advised to consider the meteoric growth and popularity of Instagram, a free online photo sharing and social network platform acquired by Facebook in 2012. Instagram allows members users to upload, edit and share photos with other members through the Instagram website, email, and social media sites including Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Foursquare and Flickr. On Instagram, you can follow other users’ photo streams, be followed back by those users, and search for friends by name or find any friends that might have previously connected to you on other social networks.
Some just silly numbers!
Just so you get an idea how popular Instagram has grown to be within a few short years (founded in 2010), listed below are 7 eye-popping stats:
- Instagram has 100 million monthly active users. (Instagram)
- 40 million photos are posted per day. (Instagram)
- 28 percent of U.S. Internet users between the ages of 18 and 29 use Instagram. (Pew)
- 98 percent of Instagram photos posted by top brands are now shared to Facebook. (Simply Measured)
- 59 percent of Interbrand’s top 100 brands are on Instagram. (SimplyMeasured)
- There are 8,500 likes per second on Instagram. (Instagram)
- 1,000 comments are made per second. (Instagram)
How small businesses are using Instagram
Small companies are finding that connecting with their customers on a visceral level is most effective with a tool like Instagram. Understanding that what is interesting to the brand and to the core target customer are where they need to be. Wise business will use Instagram as a window into their world. By sharing, small business owners put a face on their business, and to enhance relationships with customers.
Private Picassos, a children’s art studio in New York City, has found that by using Instagram to document their student’s progress, has resulted in parents commenting and sharing the photos, increasing their business. â€œI don’t do any paid advertising, so it’s a way to encourage your client to do the marketing for you,â€ director Valeen Parubchenko says.
Facebook is at it again, and this time it’s called Facebook Graph Search. This is their endeavor to sway their search results from a keyword-based model like Google’s, to one where Facebook can employ its greatest asset, the social interplay between all its users. Still coming out, Graph Search may not be available to you yet, (still only accessible in the US, and there’s a waiting list) but it’s on its way right around the corner. And if you have a business that relies on Facebook at all, you must understand how this could benefit you.
Facebook Graph search – What is it?
Facebook Graph Search is a search model where Facebook moves their search results from a model based on keywords, to one where it can use arguably its most valuable asset, the social data of all its users. You will see results based upon what your social spheres like, and view. For instance, your search will bring back those who share your interests, websites, photos and videos they’ve liked or visited, along with other connections you may share. These outcomes are unique to you, because they are based solely off yours and your friend’s interests.
How can you make use of Facebook Graph search in your marketing?
One of the primary benefits here seems to be that Graph Search will reward people who are making a genuine effort with their social media, engaging and interacting with their fans and followers. Facebook is mum regarding the aspects of the actual search algorithm, but suffice it to say it will do a lot towards weeding out pages that are wanting to game the system. Fake Likes and fans coming from strange locations out of your common spheres, will probably be viewed with a bit of skepticism.
If your business is serious about social media, you stand to benefit from this, as you will become more visible on Facebook. Some of the basic methods for you to prepare for Facebook Graph Search are to:
- Be sure your business page profile is completely filled out, so that users can find you.
- Make certain to engage, not sell your visitors.
- Go through what you’ve posted online, especially on Facebook itself, as your info will be more available than ever! Delete any humiliating items before they come back to bite your business you know where!
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