In a word? Coffee. But on a serious note, it is a challenge to be creative 24/7. However, it is one of the daily requirements, being a graphic designer. It is important to keep things fun while staying true to the requirements set forth by the client.
Personally, I take a lot of photos while I am off of work. I also travel quite a bit, so I like to use my personal photos in the ads that I create. I go walking on my lunch break and look for cool images that could be used for backgrounds. Sometimes a picture of something seemingly boring like a gravel path can be interesting when added to an ad.
Starfish is a digital agency, so I also use the social media platforms that we design ads for in my personal life. I like to be able to keep it fresh in my mind how the images will look on phones or tablets. Each platform has its pros and cons, and it is important to be aware of both.
Plus our work environment makes easier to come up with ideas. We have a fun group and joke around when brainstorming. Our more “out there” ideas get written on our chalkboard walls. One step into our office and you would have a chuckle at our antics.
I also like to look over ads that others have created so I can get ideas, but also avoid accidentally copying artwork others have done in the past. I look at ads that I have created before but try to make them look refreshed, and new and exciting.
Those are just some ways that I can keep myself in a creative state of mind. It is very important in this industry, and each person is different, which is what makes our company so great. We all have different perspectives and techniques that come together to create amazing content for our clients.
When trusting an agency to build up your brand and grow your business, you want to know what you are getting yourself into and who you are trusting your company with. There are a few things that you will get out of a partnership with Starfish…
A Full Digital Audit
Auditing your digital presence will allow us to identify areas of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Digital audits align with one of our core values (hustle) because we work hard to continually improve. We perform an initial audit as well as additional audits periodically throughout our partnership.
A Customized Strategic Digital Plan
Many ad agencies offer predetermined packages that cannot be customized to fit your specific needs. One of the reasons we perform a full digital audit prior to beginning our partnership is because it allows us to identify areas that best meet your needs. We also continue to perform audits so that we can revise the strategic plan as necessary. In other words, as your companies digital needs change, we can customize the strategic plan to meet your needs instead of continuing to offer the “same old, same old.”
This specific area sets us apart from other advertising agencies. Many programmatic advertisers and Social Media marketers offer packages that only include generic advertisements they can use with any company. Our creative team produces personalized advertisements in which the images and content are tailored to appeal to your specific audience. Personalized ads are important for increasing brand identity in your market which aligns with one of our core values: family. We strive to produce content which will invite people into your brand’s family.
A Partner Invested in Your Success
We are more than an ad agency. We form partnerships because we understand that building a digital presence requires open communication and consistent effort from both partners. It also aligns with one of our core values: accountability. Partners hold each other accountable for their contributions to the partnership because those contributions make an impact on results.
We are invested in your success. Every ad, every post, every strategy, etc. is formulated from analyzing the data from your individual accounts. We are investing time and expertise in improving those results. It’s important to fully understand that we are making a long-term investment into your success. Just as social changes do not happen overnight, neither does a digital performance.
My name is Caroline Herman and I am Content Writer and Digital Media Assistant for Starfish Ad Age. I am the youngest staff member here at just 23 years old, but I like to think that being so young makes me a great addition to the team because I have a completely different perspective to bring to the table.
I write most of the content on our site, as well as editing all of the blogs before they go out, and writing page content for our clients. I also am the assistant to Abel so I handle emails, to do lists, and note taking galore. I am a college student right now studying Journalism and Mass Communications, and when I told Abel that I loved to write, he instantly began to assign me all kinds of projects. I absolutely love getting to do what I do every day.
When I am not at work though, I really like to spend time with my dog and my fiance. I love to read, explore thrift stores, and watch movies. On a rainy Saturday afternoon, I even like to sit at the kitchen table with a puzzle and a cup of tea. I have always loved school and being in college and working full time is difficult of course, but I wouldn’t change it. I love the challenge.
A fun fact that people don’t really know about me is that I have lived in 4 different states and I have moved a total of 14 times in my 23 years. When I tell people that the first question I get is if I am from a military family. The answer is no, my dad’s job just took us around and then when I got older it was my own choice to move again. Now I live in Longview and while I don’t miss physically moving all of my stuff from place to place, I do want to live in a bigger city again someday. But for now, I love it right where I am with school and my job and my family close by.
When one of our fabulous Social Media Coordinators asked for a blog about common social media problems and their solutions, I jumped at the opportunity to assign myself to the task. I believe I could seriously write a book about this one (I’m a problem solver by nature) and sometimes it’s a bit of struggle helping a company move from point A to point Z especially when I want to be on point ZZZ (haha that wasn’t meant to be a sleeping joke, but it kind of turned into one).
Branding A common problem with branding on social media is that companies think the same rules for traditional advertising apply to digital advertising. The short answer is – they don’t. Here’s the problem: advertising on social media is not as simple as taking your traditional advertising (flyers, leaflets, coupons, brochures, etc.) and reformatting to digital sizing. #Nope. Let me repeat that a different way in case you’re a visual person.
Branding on social media is more than using the same font style and layout for every post. In fact, that may hurt your company because the content becomes boring to the audience. Each platform’s audience communicates differently and each of your audiences within those platforms communicates differently. It takes time and patience to learn their languages.
Solutions: 1) forget most of what you know about traditional branding guidelines because very little of it applies to social media, 2) create social media guidelines that define your social brand and how you will/will not speak to your audience but don’t put too much emphasis on colors/font styles, and 3) learn what awakens your audience(s) so you can increase opportunities to speak with them, actually keep their attention, and cultivate engagement.
Ads vs. Posts One of the biggest mistakes (IMO) I see companies making on social media is that they use every post to sell something to their audience. They have 2500 followers and so they think “everyone” saw their post because it’s digital. In actuality, they are reaching 50-100 people with less than 5% engagement and sometimes 0% engagement. That’s a low percentage of reach and engagement.
Solutions: Rethink how you use social media. It’s much more involved than making a pitch to a follower. Paid ads on social media should be 1) designed to attract a buyer with creativity and strategy and 2) create a connection with a potential customer that leads them to follow you.
Posts on social media should be 1) centered around content that generates an atmosphere of dynamicsocial response, 2) building a community of loyal followers, and 3) limited to 1 pitch for every 20-25 posts (unless you are an influencer/public figure with a major following).
People who like your content will like your product, buy it, and promote it. It really is that simple. Companies who embrace this simple philosophy will see the power of social media work to their benefit. Companies who try to work against the different platforms/audience types will continue to struggle in their social media efforts.
Reality vs. Expectation
SMH. This one. This one right here gets me every month. When I look at current results and the expectation of better results, I smh. Data is an important part of generating results on social media. Did you know that many of these platforms have advertisements that are actively learning multiple factors that affect ad performance? An active ad gathers information about potential customers that is extremely important for planning, strategy, and implementation of future content/advertisements. Problems: 1) expecting more for less, 2) impatience and 3) expecting immediate results.
Solutions: 1) set expectations based on actual data and don’t just choose numbers out of the sky such as 50% growth over the last month or even 3 months because it’s most likely unrealistic and it lowers morale, 2) tell yourself over and over – chisel it in stone “There WILL be ups and downs. Plans don’t ALWAYS go according to plan. There are obstacles and external factors that affect results which may be out of your control. Adjust accordingly. Sometimes THAT IS the best anyone can do.” In other words, have patience with the process, and 3. It takes a minimum of 2 weeks to a full month to get a good baseline of data. Account for strategy/implementation time. Realize there will be adjustments along the way for each creative and even for every factor and all of those adjustments affect data/results.
Audience & Growth
I just about fall out of my chair laughing when I hear someone question the population of their city and why they don’t have more followers. Here’s the problem: they think that potential audience growth is calculated by deducting followers from the population. That is absolutely incorrect. SMH. Let’s look at a real-life example. The population of Kalamazoo, Michigan is 75,807 (2017 US Census). Lindenwoods Dental has 222 Facebook followers. It’s a problem to think that they could potentially add another 75,585 followers. It’s unrealistic, unreasonable, illogical, and a whole list of other not so fabulous adjectives.
Solution: realize that your data pool of potential followers gets smaller or larger as you consider internal and external factors.
Here are a few things I would consider to start:
What is the percentage of people in the area who use dental services? How many competitors are in the area? How far would they like to extend their reach? Are they looking for customers who only want a specific type of dental service?
This list gets more detailed and refined as more factors are added into the audience growth strategy. The answer to these questions (and many more) will increase/decrease potential audience growth. And it makes a difference which platform of social media as well as whether or not you are a single local company, one with multiple locations/branches, a national chain, etc.
The Boost Monster
Problem: not knowing when to boost or promote a post. I call it the boost monster because some companies feed it lots of money with very little return. Month after month, they spend hundreds of dollars (maybe thousands) on boosting/promoting posts that receive less engagement than what they would if they were to focus on increasing their organic growth.
Solutions: 1) determine the level of engagement you require to boost a post and adjust this number as you grow your engagement rates and 2) evaluate your return on spending. Most social platforms are designed to calculate engagement and they provide useful tips to help you decide if something is boost/promotion-worthy. Evaluate your return. Were the results worth your cost (both in time spent/dollars spent)? What results could have been yielded if you spent those hundreds or thousands of advertising dollars on something that yields greater results?
This morning I had a thought as to how brands can leverage some of the platforms across all of these different ecosystems. One of the things that I have learned, based purely off of experience and practicing what I preach, is being able to build a brand inside of these ecosystems. When you look at social, those platforms are the best way for you to build your brand regardless of if you are just starting out or have been in business for decades.
On these platforms, there is no way that you can go in there and think that what you did five or ten years ago with traditional will give you the same brand recognition on those platforms. You have to go at it like nobody knows who you are… because they don’t.
It’s kind of like what Gary Vee’s book Jab Jab Right Hook says. Can you sell a product on these platforms? Absolutely. I believe you should. But not every single post should be about you trying to sell something to someone. You are actually talking to another human being. This is an interaction and a networking opportunity for you. Once you establish that connection with your consumer, then you have the ability to target them. You can use that same methodology; jab with social and give them a right hook programmatically.
A lot of people don’t understand that you can use programmatic strategically as an overall capability to leverage so much of your marketing and your strategy. Because so many people get lost in just two platforms, or maybe they hate programmatic. Gary Vee is not a fan of programmatic, but he talks about doing a Google search and hours or days later you go on youtube and see an ad for what you searched previously. That is a form of programmatic. When you think about it, you are actually telling Google what you want to see. You put yourself in an auction environment inside that ecosystem. You are telling the market what kind of product you want to see and what you are interested in buying.
Being able to do that is a form of programmatic regardless of what you think. It is extremely important for brands right now to use social as a way to tell a story. If you can’t tell a story, and you are just going to rely on the traditional media you have used for the past 50 years, you won’t get any engagement or new business. You need to be able to appeal to a younger generation; someone who is actually using these platforms. You need to give them a reason to buy your products and tell them a story that makes them feel comfortable as if your product is the right one for them at that particular time. If all you are going to do is sell, sell, sell… you are going to lose.
I’d like to discuss “Social Transparency” and why it is important to utilize that transparency. As a whole, we all have been lied to and faked out by industry leaders all competing for our attention via social media platforms, causing us to doubt much of what we see or hear.
So why is this practice of “Social Transparency” important for your business? The answer is powerfully simple; Transparency builds trust. Transparency provides powerful insight into customer satisfaction and engagement. At Starfish, we hold ourselves accountable and practice “Social Transparency” as we launch and execute campaigns on behalf of clients and of course ourselves. This is how we do just that:
Use diverse channels – Make it easy for your audience to access the story and information that they will need to make an informed decision to trust your content and overall, trust your brand.
Truth: Practice honest marketing and communication, and always own up to your mistakes. Don’t try to cover up a mistake. Acknowledge it and move forward, as that helps to build trust with your audience as well.
Embrace open communication: Cultivate opinions and community dialogue to gain differing points of view that can help to diversify your content.
Information Hub: Give the audience the information they need to help their decision to interact with you or buy your product and/or service.
—>Define your identity
Who are you: Share practice areas, product niches or specialties. Why should they choose you over your competitor?
Know your place: Don’t try to be all things to all people. Avoid creating a gap in perception where visitors or customers think you are something you are not.
Be real: Share your story, explain your values.. what do you stand for?
Share your platform: Explain how you operate by publishing your business model, process or structure.
Social proof: Publish reviews and/or testimonials.
Did you catch our Director of Sales, Mindy Lewellen’s, Facebook “live” presentation? Mindy utilized the principles of “Social Transparency.” Abel Sanchez’s provides great insight and candidly shares the opportunities to advise peers and business we are afforded Starfish Ad Age.
Every year has its ups and downs, and that is especially true for the digital industry and social media. Here we are looking at how 2019 has been so far for social and digital media trends.
In-the-moment, ephemeral content has taken over. Highly produced, super perfected content has lost out to these on the spot posts, even from professional business accounts. Stories are starting to overtake feed posts, and more mobile users versus desktop users mean an increase in the popularity of short-lived content. It adds personality and an authentic style, as well as helping you to be more vulnerable and “human” with your consumers.
AI-driven experiences, such as bots and ad optimization have begun to take over the customer service world. It is predicted that by 2020, over 80% of all customer service experiences will be powered by bots. This allows you to tailor the experience to the consumer directly.
One out of every four Facebook pages now uses paid advertising, and Facebook accounts for 23% of the total digital ad spending in the US. It is more competitive and more expensive, so you should pair your ad dollars with equal time and creativity. Sometimes it is simpler to boost your existing organic content if it performed well enough to start off. Brand awareness ads are especially thriving. They should feel like they are coming from a close friend and you absolutely must know your target audience.
Vertical video now accounts for over 50% of digital videos. They are taller than they are wide, just as the name implies, and that means that they are optimized for mobile platforms. 94% of smartphone users prefer to hold their devices vertically rather than horizontally, even if the video they are viewing was meant to be in a horizontal format. Vertical videos saw a 130% increment on views, and 4x more Facebook engagement according to Wibbitz, a video automating platform. They catch viewers’ attention and vertical video ads tend to see a 90% completion rate as well. Social media “television” is also taking off, with formats like IGTV and Facebook Shows being released on a regular basis.
Omnichannel marketing is reaching and interacting with customers in all channels. It is viewing the experience through the eyes of the consumer. It also orchestrates the user experience so it is integrated seamlessly and anticipates a customer’s journey through those channels (aka funnels starfishadage.com/marketing-funnels/). Almost nobody today shops exclusively through one medium; they will shop online, in stores, read reviews on various websites, and listen to their friends and family. All of that adds up, so you need to be able to reach that consumer on all levels and platforms, such as paid ads, social feeds, and email.
These are just some of the trends that have seen an increase in 2019. It will be interesting to see what else comes up throughout the year.
Whenever you are working with text it can be easy to just crank down the leading to make the text take up the least amount of space possible, but you want to make sure that there is enough leading between the tallest part of the line below and the lowest part of the line above to ensure that there’s nothing touching. There should be enough room for you to be able to run a line between them without it touching either one. This rule is more flexible when you’re designing logos because they usually only have a handful of words as opposed to a full paragraph, and sometimes you can play off of the letters touching.
When choosing text do not make every font stylized otherwise they’ll be fighting for the viewers’ attention, you want to only choose a maximum of three fonts. For your primary font, you can choose whichever style you want, this will be the attention piece of your design. For the secondary font, choose on that is more readable that you would use for a paragraph heading. This font should be what grabs the viewers attention after they’ve read everything you want at the forefront. And for the third font, you should choose something easy to read in bulk because this will be what you use for all the lengthy content. The font you chose should be simple to provide a visual break from the previous two.
When working with colors never choose all fully saturated colors, choose one or two colors that you really want to stand out then choose more subdued colors from there. Start by choosing any color you’d like, preferably not a fully saturated color like 100% red, but your mileage may vary. For your next color, choose something complimentary to the first one, while keeping the saturation under around 70%. And for your final color, it should be something plain in comparison to the others, this will be the color you use most so it shouldn’t take away from your primary.
Never use two fully saturated colors on top of each other when it comes to text, a common example would be red on blue or vice versa. When you have two colors like those right next to each other, they create a visual tension that makes it almost impossible for the viewer to read. Another example would be when you are designing for people above 60 years of age, or who have poorer eyesight. In that case, you should try to avoid white text on a black background because when they look at it the black constricts the white type. So to counter this you should choose a nearly white background for your text so that it doesn’t have to fight for dominance.
Finally, you shouldn’t leave visual elements too close to the edge of your design. This creates a visual tension that either leads the viewer’s eyes off the design or makes it harder for them to focus on anything else in the design. You should keep all elements within a good distance of the edge, anything that leads off the page should be intentional. An example would be if you are trying to lead the viewer through the current design and guide them into the next.
These are just some examples of the ways that our graphic design team ensures quality work for their projects. They are very precise when it comes to details, and they keep the client and their target audience in mind with their designs. If you want to know more, contact us about taking your marketing to the next level.
There are options for people that want to build graphics and different programs offer features for various needs of graphic designers. At Starfish, we use Adobe programs for most of our creative. Adobe offers several programs in its Creative Suite; InDesign, Photoshop & Illustrator.
When building ads, I tend to use both Photoshop and InDesign. I choose the images that will be used and edit them for contrast, colorspace and sizing, then I save them for use in InDesign.
InDesign is the program I use to lay out large amounts of text or to create multiple pages of copy. While most ads I build for Starfish are more graphics heavy, I use InDesign for most of the ads that I create. I previously worked for various newspapers and that is the program that we used the most. The text is easiest to manipulate in this program and it has guidelines that make it easier to keep items aligned. Drawbacks to the software include lack of adjustments for graphics, which means that they need to be ready for layout prior to being imported to the file, and the files can be quite large when exporting them.
Photoshop is my second favorite software for creating art. I love the multitude of options for editing, and its interface is pretty straightforward and simple to understand. The reason I don’t really use it for ad building is that I find the text tool difficult to use. But my favorite options are the filters, which I use to make photos look like paintings or stone. I also cut-out objects from the backgrounds of various images on a daily basis and photoshop makes that easy to do.
Illustrator is the most powerful of the three programs. It is used for creating larger, vector type files which can be scaled for large display signage and other uses. I typically do not use the software but it is great for people who want to create characters and logos.
I enjoy using these programs and they go hand in hand together with design. There are other programs available for designers and people who just want to do simple photo editing. There are free options out there as well. I am so grateful that I have the ability to use the Creative Cloud.
Instagram was founded in 2010 as a new social media platform for image sharing. It quickly took off, gaining over one billion users in just 8 years. In August of 2016, a new feature was rolled out. Instagram Stories were introduced as a new way of sharing moments. They only last for 24 hours, and after that, you can choose to have them saved in an archive where you can also choose to repost them later. The content that you share to these stories won’t show up on your profile grid or in someone else’s feed. They show up at the top of your followers’ feeds as your profile picture with a colorful ring around it and they can click on it to see your stories. If they click on the right side of the screen it will progress them forward, and if they click on the left side it will rewind to the previous post. If you swipe to the left you will go to the next person’s story. They are shown in chronological order as well.
There are a few top ways that brands on Instagram are using stories. Many companies will show behind-the-scenes content to give their brand a more personal reputation. They also have employee takeovers where a staff member will take their followers on a journey through their day as an employee of that business. A takeover could also be when one brand will takeover an Instagram account from another brand. Stories are very useful for one-on-one communication as well, by asking direct questions, taking polls, and going live.
Stories are a great way to stay at the top of someone’s news feed because that is where your story would show up if you were actively posting content to it. They can help drive traffic to websites by having a direct link where viewers could “swipe up” to load the link. Stories don’t have likes or public comments however, and they can also be muted. So if you are posting too many stories to the point where a follower has to take a lot of time to get through yours and onto the next, you could be muted too.
You can see analytics such as how many times your content has been viewed and by who. Stories are highly customizable, with text in different colors and fonts, drawings, stickers, hashtags and even location tags, which increase discoverability. According to Instagram, 75% of users take action after seeing an ad, and you can post ads in your story directly from Facebook ads manager. You can also promote existing stories on Instagram as ads. So as you can now see, Instagram Stories can be a very useful tool for brands and businesses. You just have to know how to successfully utilize them in a way that benefits you.
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