Nov 2017

9 ultimate social media categories you need to know for your business

9 ultimate social media categories you need to know for your business - Vale Design

I love my job! For the past 17 years, I have been able to design and collaborate with large corporations, small businesses and start-ups. I love the challenge of listening to or reading the client brief and trying to answer their problem with a creative branding solution. 1 + 1 = logo. 2 + 2 = brand. 3 + 3 = website.

No, branding is not rocket science, but we brand designers have enticed you to buy your favorite dress, lured you into a store for your favorite beverage and made you choose that healthy food product over the one right next to it in the grocery store. So in a small way, yes, branding is creative rocket science :)

I have worked on all platforms of branding from packaging, print and website design. Recently, I have aimed all of my branding passion and energy toward social media design and marketing strategy. It combines my 3 loves. Branding. Photoshop and Creative Problem Solving. How do you accurately and informatively represent a brand in a small amount of visual space against an infinite sea of social media imagery on the internet?

Here's how. 

Social media branding and design is best implemented with categories and I am going to tell you the top 9 categories that your business should be implementing and using right now in your social media marketing strategy. These categories will build trust, increase follower engagement, and educate your followers about your business and brand.

Let's get to the categories! I am going to use my design work for Angelcare social media as visual examples for you throughout this post.

1. Giveaway / Partnership

9 ultimate social media categories you need to know for your business - Vale Design

Hosting or participating in a giveaway is a great way to engage your followers and educate them about your brand and your products. Partnering with other businesses in your field or related to your field is an excellent way for increased reach and exposure to new followers. If your company is smaller, think about reaching out to partner with a larger company. Politely ask them and let them know what you have to offer with this suggested partnership. Feature their logo and products along with yours in the giveaway post image. 

Your business could solely host a giveaway. You could ask your followers to repost the giveaway and by doing so be entered into winning a special product or service. This is a great way to really get your followers into action mode and engaged. Chances are they will re-post to their friends who are interested in the same types of products and you will increase your followers.

Make it a point to engage with your followers also. If they repost, post a thank you comment to them. If they comment on the product, respond to them and answer any questions or concerns they might have.

2. Product Spotlight

9 ultimate social media categories you need to know for your business - Vale Design

You know you have amazing products or services. Now tell your followers about them! In detail. Choose one product at a time and showcase them in a post. Call out 2 or 3 top features and bullet point them on the actual image. Or place the product in front of a lifestyle image in the background. Choose a simple image that evokes a feeling, but does not draw attention away from your product.

Inform your followers what you have to offer and how they will benefit from this product or service.

One of my favorite pastry shops in Indy, Gallery Pastry Shop, features Macarons on special for $1 every Wednesday. So every Wednesday, they showcase a gorgeous Macaron shot on their Instagram. Makes me want to jump in my car and go get one every time I see that Wednesday product shot!

3. Deals / Sales

9 ultimate social media categories you need to know for your business - Vale Design

This one is important. If you have a product or service going on sale, post about it! If you have a product on sale in a brick n mortar store or the store is offering a gift card in a certain amount, let your followers know. If you are moving out older product to make room for new inventory, let your followers know.

Example, if you are a brick n mortar store selling clothes, post pictures of the items for sale and list your store hours in the caption below. Mention "going fast" or "we are only open until 5 pm today!" This will create a sense of panic with your followers and you bet someone will drive to your store to pick up that item, plus probably purchase a matching skirt, earrings and maybe a purse as well (this works on me all the time!).

4. Owner / Employee Feature / Charities

Tell your followers about your business owner and employees. Let them know what human being(s) are behind their favorite products. Let them into your lives, passions, favorite things, least favorite things, dogs, kids, vacations, fun facts, etc. Chances are your followers will fall in love with your business and products even more when they learn their favorite company is run by awesome people.

Also, if your company partners with or donates to specific charities, post about that! If your business gives back, educate your followers on why you feel passionate about giving back and why you chose that specific charity. We need more "good" on social media. Post about it. Post about your end of year goals to donate how much and get your company to that organization in person when you donate the money. Celebrate! Post pictures!

5. Quotes

9 ultimate social media categories you need to know for your business - Vale Design

Hello! Who doesn't love a good quote?! They are such tasty little nuggets of wisdom. 

Here are my design recommendations for quotes. Keep them on brand (example above shows candy on the brand color). Choose quotes that speak to your business vision and brand words. For example, I work solely with women entrepreneurs, so I feature quotes by inspirational women throughout history on my Instagram feed. If you run a restaurant or food business, maybe feature quotes from famous chefs.

Design wise, I prefer when quotes have solid color backgrounds, especially in Instagram. When you are viewing someone's Instagram grid, a solid background color, again on brand, gives your eye a visual resting spot. A grid full of images only makes my eye blur and I don't really look at all the pictures. The color block allows the eye a chance to stop.

6. Lifestyle Images

9 ultimate social media categories you need to know for your business - Vale Design

Social media design is heavy imagery, hello Instagram. But when you feature lifestyle imagery, again, make sure it is on brand. If you sell baby products, your social media strategy could consist of heavy kiddo shots, little fingers and toes, little ears and noses, baby blankets, shoes and clothing, parents snuggling babies, siblings holding hands, etc. Brainstorm an array of on brand imagery for your feed so your followers do not become visually bored.

As a designer, I love to view Instagram grids that feature half staged images and the other half candids. Don't show me all the perfect. Mix in the real life as well. It helps me relate with those brands better.

7. Flat Lay Photography

Flat lays are a simple way to showcase a product(s), tell a story and engage your followers. Flat lays are shots taken from directly above.

Tips for shooting a flat lay:

  • consider your background color
  • please please please style the shot
  • pay attention to the lighting
  • consider the crop
  • consider how close to photograph the items
  • always use the rule of thirds - makes for a more professional and interesting shot

8. Blog Support

9 ultimate social media categories you need to know for your business - Vale Design

Your business has a blog right?! Please say yes! Blog posts educate and entertain readers. Social media is a great way to point your readers to your blog for more information about your business and brand. Post a teaser image and caption it "click the link to learn more."  

The design of your blog and social media platforms should be branded. When a follower links over from your social media platform, they should see the same colors, imagery, fonts, etc. Repetition and cohesion build customer trust when it comes to branding. 

9. Awards / Accolades / Features

9 ultimate social media categories you need to know for your business - Vale Design

You know your business is awesome. Inform your followers about any special awards or accolades your company has received. Let them know that your business is reputable and has been recognized for it's talents, products and services.

If your business or a product has been featured in a magazine, social media is a great way to announce this. I have designed many "magazine page posts" featuring the magazine title, cover and inside page with call out product.

If your product or business has won an award from a well known website, post that and a picture of the award image if you have access to it.

There are so many businesses out in the world. Let your followers know and see that your business is one of the best!

Again, if they comment on your post, make sure you respond and engage with them. Engagement is crucial for a brand and helps you stand out.

 

Working with clients on social media design strategies and imagery is one of my favorite things. Social media places your business, product and services in front of millions of potential followers. The visual competition is fierce. Don't kid yourself, your imagery is being judged and with it your business. Put your best branded images out there for your existing followers and the new followers you want to gain. Social media is a huge facet of your brand. 

If you need help with your social media design, please feel free to contact me. We can discuss your current social media marketing strategy and what design changes I would recommend and can implement for your business.

What other social media categories does your business use? Which categories are your favorites? Which categories do you not like? I would love to know!

 

How to increase your creativity with this 1 simple trick

How to increase your creativity with this 1 simple trick - Vale Design

I am going to tell you how to massively increase your creativity in one simple super easy trick. You will find your own creative wellspring is full and the ideas are overflowing! You will find that you have to keep a notebook close by to catch all of the ideas that are jumping around in your head!

But first let's explore what "creativity" is.

Creativity is...

I think most people think creativity is a trait that only "right-brained artistic people" possess. They think creative people are only artists.

Yes, artist do possess creativity, but so do people who love to do woodworking, writing, styling makeup, hair or clothes, cooking, playing music, gardening, reading, metalworking, crafting, DIY, interior decorating, telling jokes, entertaining, acting, solving a problem, thinking of better ways to serve the community, tinker, etc. The list of what could be deemed "creative" is infinitely endless. If you create something, you are using creativity.

It is basic human nature to be curious and creative. Humans create, both functional objects such as computers, robots, calculators and also things that purely make our souls soar like poetry, song lyrics, your favorite dessert while you sip your favorite wine.

Creativity can come in the form of an accountant by day, but a lover of cooking for family and friends at night. A graphic designer by day and a fashion stylist during the weekends. A father who works a major left brain job during the day, but then comes home and engineers My Little Pony stages and pulley systems across the playroom. A mother crafting with her kiddos passing on her love of gluesticks, sequins and felt. To create is a blessing to all of us and a talent I believe we all possess.

Here is the 1 trick it takes to find more of your own creativity immediately:

Turn off other people's creativity

What?! 

I read Julia Cameron's book The Artist's Way not too long ago. Do not let the title of the book fool you. This book benefits both creative people who feel blocked and people who would even deem themselves "not creative."

In one of her chapters, Julia suggests trying a week of "reading deprivation." What the hell? I almost shut the book and never picked it back up! First of all, I am an introvert and books and I are besties. I always have a book with me. Second of all, I am in the middle of reading Julia's book! Now I am supposed to stop?! Then it hit me. I realized what she was asking.

She is asking for us to turn off other people's creativity for a small section of time. That simple act will force you to sit in silence. Listen to the white noise. Feel your mind start to freak out and squirm around. After some time, your own mind will start to think of thoughts and ideas to pursue and contemplate. You will start to feel the floodgates opening and your own creativity will start flowing.

What I had to turn off

Once I started paying attention, I realized I had a HUGE list of other people's creativity that I had to turn off:

  • social media - duh. looking at other people's creativity will shut yours down super quick!
  • music
  • searching for pinterest recipes
  • movies - especially Hallmark movies.  (my guilty pleasure and major time sucker!)
  • mindless tv watching
  • gardening
  • books
  • podcasts - try talking a walk in silence. I dare you not to think of something creative!
  • blogs / blog worksheets
  • webinars
  • moving cell phone & iPad out of whatever room I was in - talk about a distraction
  • going out to eat - food is someone's creative gift to others

Once I was able to see where I was being distracted by other people's creativity, I was able to consciously shut those off for a time. I was able to sit with my own thoughts, which at first were none, then they were all over the place and then slowly, my own words and divine inspirations started to peak through the silence.

What I was able to create

I was able to:

  • design my new website in 1 week!  (portfolio & blog included!)
  • brainstorm 100 blog post ideas in 1 hour
  • brainstorm and create a social media content calendar
  • re-ignite my love of healthy cooking & baking for my family and friends which has been non-existant since my grandmother passed away in April
  • start my yoga practice back up which was also cast aside as I grieved for my grandmother
  • hosting mentor group dinners again
  • re-brand my own design business
  • discover an interest in public speaking
  • discover a love of journaling and problem solving
  • discover a love of serving other women through encouraging words and self discovery tips
  • brainstormed a mastermind business group for women at my church 

Once you turn off other people's gifts and talents, you will find your own in the silence.

If you are stuck, don't feel creative or are unsure of your natural creativity

If you do not feel anything, ask yourself some journal prompt questions, such as:

  • what did you love to do as a kid?
  • what comes naturally to you that people comment to you about all the time?
  • list 5 things you would love to do if time and money were no object?
  • what lights you up?
  • list 5 silly things you would try once?
  • do you have any hobbies? what hobbies sound interesting?
  • meditate
  • take a quiet walk early in the morning or late in the evening and listen to your heart
 

Turn off other people's creativity. Sit in the silence. Listen for your own inner ideas and inspirations. When given the time and space, your own creativity will come bubbling forth. It might start as a trickle, but if given the chance, it might turn into a mighty river!

Stop reading this post. Turn off everything else. Be still. Breathe. Listen...I can not wait to see what you bring forth!

Do you have any creative distractions not listed above? What did you create or dream up when you shut down all the outside creativity? I would love to know!