Against the Grain: Web

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  • Trilix

    Taking the Mystery out of Social Media Marketing

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    Social media is one aspect of marketing that can be tough to put your finger on. We search endlessly for a magic formula to attract followers and increase engagement, but in truth, it doesn’t exist. It really boils down to implementing a few simple strategies. In the last year, Trilix client Missouri Valley Line Constructors Apprenticeship and Training Program has multiplied its number of Facebook followers by more than eight times! How did they do it? With our help, Missouri Valley has enjoyed successful social media marketing with the following key approaches:

    Know the target audience: First, Missouri Valley recognizes that social media users want to connect with what matters to them. The company gauges this by asking who is following, whether they are current apprentices looking for support, past program attendees connecting with fellow linemen or new applicants researching the trade. Knowing the audience can help shape messaging and tone. Remember that social media marketing is not a numbers game, but about real people.

    Provide valuable content: After understanding the target audience, Missouri Valley regularly posts photos of real people on the job, around the classroom and information from a thorough, well-organized website. Interaction with popular industry-relevant pages, including liking, sharing and participating (appropriately and positively) in conversations on other public group pages are other ways to provide answers and insight, while driving them back to your Facebook page and/or website.

    Take advantage of paid promotion: As with any successful marketing plan, content is best when supported by other marketing efforts. Missouri Valley has consistently utilized Facebook’s paid options to promote messages to unreached audiences. Right-side column ads, newsfeed stories and promoted posts are fruitful options.

    Finally, at the end of each month, Missouri Valley uses realistic measurements to report and analyze social media activities to ensure goals are being met. If you’d like to hear more about Trilix client social media work or want more direction for your own social media marketing plan, give the Trilix PR team a call! 

  • Trilix

    What’s APPropriate?

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    When it comes to marketing, people are always looking for the latest and greatest. From social media to guerilla advertising, we marketers have a tendency to go all in. Yet, amidst the frenzy of new media, it’s important to remember who you are and whom you serve. What’s right for one organization can be wrong for another. Not every business needs a Twitter account, and those branded urinal cakes you’re investing in may not be your best option.

    Mobile apps are no different. Growing daily in popularity, many business owners are using them to connect with consumers on smartphones and tablets. For the right business, apps are the perfect tool to engage and serve customers quickly and efficiently. For the wrong one, they’re less effective and more expensive than the urinal cakes. So how do you decide if your business could use an app? Start by looking below.

    Yes! Build me an app!

    1. You have a need that uses the advantages of a smart phone — location services, camera, phone or media rich content.
    2. You have a need for content to be accessed offline or in low-bandwidth areas.
    3. You have a specific user experience in mind or wish to completely manage the user interaction.

    No! Don’t need it, don’t want it.

    1. You’re running on a shoestring budget. Unless you’re happy reaching only one part of the smartphone/tablet market, you’ll need to develop for both iOS and Android. This essentially doubles your cost.
    2. You’re not ready for continued maintenance. Changes to the app structure require updates to the app. Content can be updated on an app, but a web-based admin system is required to manage content. This is another cost. If this doesn’t work into your structure, you may be going down the wrong path.
    3. Your only reason for building an app is to say that you’re building an app. If you think you need to be in the app game solely because it’s popular, you probably shouldn’t be. Cool is only cool if your customers care.

    If you’re set on a mobile option, but can’t afford an app, a mobile or responsive website is a good alternative. These allow your user to access the info they need on their mobile devices at a significantly lower cost. At the same time, you’re able to leverage your existing web content to your advantage.

    If you are curious about what responsive web design can do, go check out one of our latest projects.

    www.dmbotanicalgardens.com

  • Heather Weaverling

    Make Sure Online is Part of Your Mix

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    As a rule, when I help clients create media plans, I always recommend they choose at least two types of media for their campaigns, which benefits reach and frequency. Radio and newspaper, broadcast and outdoor … the combinations differ depending on the audience and budget. But, these days, I rarely recommend plans that don’t include online ads. Almost all audiences are online for one reason or another — many while they’re doing something else like watching TV — and online offers great tools for tracking.

    Whatever the budget, there are ways to get great leverage from online ads. For the smallest budgets, Facebook advertising can get a lot of bang for the buck. It can help generate new “Likes” for your Facebook page or increase traffic to your website. And, because you can target by geography, age, sex and interests, it can work really well for niche audiences.

    For more elaborate campaigns, our media team utilizes networks, which offers a mix of national and/or local websites that they identify based on your audience’s specific habits and preferences. The tracking capabilities of these network vendors are outstanding, which is useful for organizations that want more metrics than can be obtained from traditional forms of media.

    Many vendors can customize buttons on your ads, giving you something special to call out, like your Facebook or Twitter page. Often, they’re willing to give bonus impressions or other value ads in exchange for a monthly commitment.  

    As with traditional media, a strong call to action is vital with online ads. Make sure the design is engaging, yet simple and concise. Give audiences a reason to interact with the ad. And, of course, make sure the ad complements the other ads or materials in your campaign. Finally, keep in mind that click-through rates aren’t the end all of measurement. Just like with TV, radio or outdoor, online viewers may see the ad but not immediately take action. It might take a couple times seeing the message before they act.

    If you want to learn more about how to add online to your marketing mix, contact me

  • Trilix

    Spotlight on Technology: Up and Down Trends for 2013

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    Every day, at work and at home, the average consumer is barraged by sophisticated marketing campaigns from electronics and technology giants touting the many advantages of their new or enhanced products. From tablets and computers to mobile phones and the latest, most popular social media apps, keeping track of what’s new and what’s on its way out the door can be tough for even the savviest gadget lovers.

    Here’s our take on what’s trending up and down for early 2013:

    Trending Up

    Android
    While Apple phone aficionados are vocal about their adoration of the devices, Android has quietly dominated the smartphone market. In Q3 of 2012, over 70 percent of smartphones shipped were Androids. It's amazing to think that at one time, the iPhone more or less had this market to itself, but 70 percent represents clear market domination. iPhones account for roughly 15 percent of market share, and predictions don’t indicate any significant changes in the next several years. 

    Apple
    Yes, even though Android enjoys global dominance in the smartphone market, Apple's iPhone 5, for at least Q4 of 2012, outsold Android devices in the U.S. And Apple’s dominance in the tablet space is unmistakable. Though other tablets are gaining some ground, it’s hard to imagine a future where the iPad isn’t the gold standard. The recently introduced iPad Mini is also becoming one of Apple's best-selling iPads.

    Samsung
    By far, the best-selling Android phones are manufactured by Samsung. The Galaxy s3 is, in fact, the world's best-selling smartphone, even greater than the iPhone 5.

    Google
    Not only does Google own the most widely used search engine, as well as Android — the most dominate smartphone operating system in the world — it is also now getting into data transmission. Google implemented Google Fiber in Kansas City and is now the fastest supplier of bandwidth in the U.S. Plans for the expansion of Google Fiber and for wireless transmission services are being crafted as you read this.

    Resolution
    The retina display has been very successful introducing consumers to a screen resolution that is much higher than the norm. TVs are also headed down this path and are beginning to implement 4K technology (four times the resolution of high def). Movies and TV shows are now also being shot in HFR (high frame rate), which is in itself a type of increased resolution.

    Trending Down

    Instagram
    On the other end of the spectrum, Instagram lost half its daily users in a month after implementing a privacy policy that would let them sell their users' images. After a huge outcry from users protesting the move, the policy was rescinded, but the fallout continues to burn. Facebook purchased Instagram in 2012 for a tidy sum, and being tied to Facebook can only help Instagram’s future, but the fad seems to be wearing off for some of their most prolific users.

    3-D TV
    3-D TVs were nearly absent at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) show in Las Vegas. It appears manufacturers are all but giving up on the technology, which never really took off as a home theater desire. TVs instead will most likely now be focusing on being “smart” and having higher than high-def resolution.

    Microsoft
    Microsoft had its biggest launch year in recent memory with Windows 8, Surface tablets and Windows Phone 8. The company took a risk and launched a newly revamped product line. The response, however, has been lackluster. Though certainly not in financial hardship, Microsoft is perceived by many in the industry as being in a long, slow decline. Windows 8, in particular, has been skewered by critics. Laptop manufacturers are even blaming the OS on their lukewarm sales. While Microsoft will continue to be a dominant force in the market, their leadership on innovation has lost respect in the community.

    RIMM
    Any company that loses $235 million in one quarter and considers it a triumph is in trouble. Customers continue to flee the sinking Blackberry ship while RIMM continues to push the deadline back on the Blackberry 10 OS. Let's hope that its release in 2013 can help turn that around.

  • Yancy de Lathouder

    Next Time, Think Like a Programmer

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    As much as today’s tech savvy society loves cool new apps and interactive websites, most people have little understanding of the programming that goes into their creation, which can sometimes be a complicated business. But, the way programmers think, in general, isn’t necessarily complicated. In fact, thinking like a programmer might be helpful the next time you have a project deadline looming or need to figure out how to handle a difficult personality.

     Try shifting your mindset like this:

    •  If a task seems overly complex, it can almost always be broken down into smaller tasks, each of which is less complex than the whole. Breaking problems down into more manageable components makes the problem as a whole easier to solve, and that’s what programmers routinely do.
    • For the most part, we’re a notoriously lazy bunch. If we have to do the same thing over and over again, we find a way to automate that task. Consider how you might rely on other technology to help do your work for you.
    • Understand why things work and correct the things that don't. Voracious research can help you understand how the things around you work at a basic level, leading to simple solutions.
    • Dealing with people can be like taking user input from a form. Programmers have to account for every incorrect type of input or action a user will make. Similarly, if you prepare yourself to deal with people in the same way, to anticipate any possible directive, you will be well prepared to steer them correctly.
    • Be efficient. Brutally so. Programmers spend much of their time crafting their code to use as few resources as possible.  Any daily task such as making coffee, driving to work, updating spreadsheets, can all most likely be made more efficient if you take the time to think about it. Taking ten minutes to figure out how to eliminate one step will pay off if you have to do that same task a thousand times.

    Taking extra time upfront to plan or look for a better way can pay off with fewer bugs later. To learn more about Trilix’s Interactive team and how we can help you improve your online presence, contact me.  

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