Klip Collective's honeygrow VR project featured in Entrepreneur and the Philadelphia Inquirer

Kevin Ritchie (left) and Ricardo Rivera show off the multi-lens Nokia VR camera and Google eyewear that Klip Collective used to shoot and view their immersive training day video for honeygrow. (via Jonathan Takiff of Philly.com)

Kevin Ritchie (left) and Ricardo Rivera show off the multi-lens Nokia VR camera and Google eyewear that Klip Collective used to shoot and view their immersive training day video for honeygrow. (via Jonathan Takiff of Philly.com)

The newest innovation from Klip Collective—a virtual reality training experience for new hires at the rapidly-growing fast-casual chain honeygrow—is getting some local and national attention.

The VR training program, a joint creation of honeygrow’s founder and CEO Justin Rosenberg and Klip Collective, was featured in Entrepreneur Magazine’s "Brilliant Ideas" section of the June issue, and online as part of their "Businesses Disrupting Industries With Their Brilliant Ideas — And What You Can Learn From Them" article.

Klip was also featured in the Inquirer / Philly.com. The review touches on both the unique technology and concept of the VR program, which is one of the first new virtual reality experiences with serious, practical, business-facing applications.

Stay tuned for more news on Klip's virtual reality and projection mapping projects.

Klip Collective develops virtual reality training application for honeygrow

PHILADELPHIA — June 1, 2017 - Virtual reality isn’t just for games anymore. Klip Collective, an experiential video shop integrating projection, lighting, and technology with storytelling to create compelling experiences, has leveraged its artistic and technical prowess to forge a new path in the virtual reality (VR) world—a practical application for employee training and development. In a unique partnership with the quickly-growing restaurant chain honeygrow, Klip has developed an interactive VR program using brand new technology that will help educate, train and prepare new employees at honeygrow locations across the country.

Featuring an overview of company culture and employee training, the program also includes an interactive game to engage and educate honeygrow’s growing teams. The VR training experience—which lasts approximately fifteen minutes—was shot and animated in stereoscopic 3D, using Klip’s Nokia Ozo VR camera and the Unity game engine. Via a custom-built application on the Google Pixel Daydream platform, users interact with the 3D space using the Daydream controller. The VR experience utilizes a spatial audio mix and integrated 2D and 3D graphic effects over live action video, allowing the user to become completely immersed in a realistic environment.

“honeygrow didn’t expect me to be so excited about using VR for company training, but it’s a great opportunity to push the technology beyond passive viewing,” said Klip co-founder and creative director Ricardo Rivera. “With interactive and gaming elements, we use the immersiveness of the experience to engage the user and communicate brand ideals.”

“Utilizing creative means when faced with a challenge, it is what we do – it’s in our DNA,” said Justin Rosenberg, honeygrow founder and CEO. “Our goal was to provide a consistent yet unique onboarding and initial training experience for all employees, regardless of geographic location or who the individual performing the training would be. Klip really impressed us with taking our ideas and exceeding our expectations by making them a reality.”

Klip Collective is leading the way in VR innovation, with more artistic, experiential and practical applications in development. To keep an eye on these upcoming projects and more, visit www.klip.tv for updates and info.

About Klip Collective:
Founded in 2003 by video artist Ricardo Rivera and photographer Pier Nicola D’Amico, Klip Collective is an experiential video shop that uses virtual reality, projection mapping, storytelling and sound design to create captivating, immersive sensory experiences on behalf of institutions, corporate clients and cultural partners. Philadelphia born but globally based, Klip Collective has created interactive projection experiences in a diverse array of environments across the world. Visit klip.tv to learn more.

About honeygrow:
honeygrow is about thinking different when it comes to their approach, their style and their people. Founded by Justin Rosenberg in Philadelphia in 2012, honeygrow brings people together over the highest quality, wholesome, simple foods. As a newly converted proponent of a plant-based diet and tired of the mediocrity in both food and experiences presented by many of the older and emerging fast dining options, Justin decided to leave the cubicle world, train in a fine-dining kitchen, and pursue a life that spoke to his passion: creating awesome things through the lens of nourishing foods. There are 17 honeygrow locations from New York to Washington, D.C., with new sites opening in Boston, Chicago, and Pittsburgh in 2017. More information at honeygrow.com.

Uncrossed Sisters: helping restaurants break into the plant-based food market

PHILADELPHIA, May 2, 2017 — Restaurants interested in adding vegan cuisine will rejoice at the launch of Uncrossed Sisters: Vegan Consultants. Today, increasing numbers of people are looking for healthier food: according to a 2016 Harris Poll, 42% of people in the northeastern United States always or sometimes order vegetarian or vegan when dining out.

Vegan food attracts people who are vegan, vegetarian, lactose-intolerant, foodies, adventurous, vegan-curious, health-conscious, environmentalist, or just don’t want to eat meat at every meal. Despite this diverse customer base, many restaurants find it difficult to break into the market without losing what made them successful.

Uncrossed Sisters helps restaurants, caterers, and other food-service businesses capitalize on the expanding plant-based market by adding vegan cuisine to their menus, from simple substitutions to a full array of exciting signature dishes. They then create events and marketing campaigns to ensure the new vegan fare succeeds.

The Uncrossed Sisters team are Philadelphia-based consultants who work with clients anywhere in the U.S. The team merges two top talents: Anne Dinshah is a vegan cookbook author, speaker, and vice president of the American Vegan Society, and Alexandra Golaszewska is a publicity strategist, social media expert, and founder of Helios Media.

Uncrossed Sisters plays on the name of Cross Brothers, a former slaughterhouse in Philadelphia. After a tour in 1957, H. Jay Dinshah vowed to be vegan. He became the father of the modern vegan movement in America.

Learn more about them at UncrossedSisters.com.

GoPhillyGo’s trip-planning website is now available for mobile

Philadelphia, PA — GoPhillyGo.org, the free online mapping site for the greater Philadelphia area from Clean Air Council, has now released a mobile version for use on all mobile devices. Designed to make getting around without a car both easy and fun, the power of GoPhillyGo’s mapping technology will now be available on the go. You’ll be able to take the ultimate trip-planning tool for biking, walking and public transit with you—anywhere you go, any time you need it.

Developed with state-of-the-art open-source mapping technology from Philadelphia-based geospatial technology firm Azavea, GoPhillyGo makes it easy to plan a route through multimodal methods — combining biking, walking, and public transportation within one trip — to go anywhere within the greater Philadelphia area, its surrounding counties, and even into New Jersey without the use of a car. It provides details on pedestrian and bike routes and, on the bike segment of your trip, you can prioritize routes that are faster, flatter, or safer.

"Using GoPhillyGo on your mobile phone is a very exciting advancement for the website,” says Joe Minott, Executive Director of the Clean Air Council. “Obviously that is how so many people are accessing transportation information today, and I'm excited that planning non-car trips just became easier for people in Southeastern Pennsylvania. GoPhillyGo users can now explore some of the region's most interesting nature-oriented destinations and quickly plan how they'll get there on bike, foot, public transportation, or any combination."

The new version of the website comes equipped with mobile functionality, a new look and sleek features, including drag-and-drop locations. Different modes of transport in your route now show up in different colors.

"Incorporating Indego bike share is the other big advancement we are excited about,” explains Nick Rogers, Transportation Program Director for the Clean Air Council. “This really makes planning trips with bike share much easier, and encourages people to use Indego as a transportation mode and not just a recreation activity." Point-to-point Indego directions, dock locations, and bike availability are now included in the map, helping you get around by bike, even if you don’t own one.

"As a Philadelphia company dedicated to a positive civic and social impact, Azavea is thrilled to partner with the Clean Air Council to promote walking, biking, and riding public transit to our local institutions, parks, and other natural resources,” says Robert Cheetham of Azavea. “Now that GoPhillyGo has gone mobile, anyone in Philadelphia can easily explore the variety of destinations accessible to them. As a company full of bike enthusiasts, we are especially excited about the inclusion of Indego bike share locations into GoPhillyGo biking directions."

Now, with GoPhillyGo mobile, you can get out of your house and just go. Covering five counties—including Philadelphia—and parts of New Jersey, the new mobile site allows you to plan ahead and take your route with you, change your plans on the fly, or figure it out as you go for a truly spontaneous adventure. Confidently explore Philadelphia; no car needed.

GoPhillyGo.org. Your destination ahead. Your map to getting there.

Clean Air Council is a member-supported, nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to protecting everyone's right to breathe clean air. The Council has over 8,000 members and works in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey on public education, community advocacy, and legal oversight and enforcement of environmental laws.

Apps vs. mobile sites

I've noticed a lot of people using the term "app" when they really mean "mobile website." Know the difference before you hire someone to build you one. 

Which is better for you? It depends on what you need.

An app is a piece of software that is downloaded to your device. Many of them have at least some functionality if your phone is offline. They're a good option if you need gamification or personalization. You can charge a fee for them. Unless it's for a very targeted group of people, you should build it for both iOS and Android compatibility. 

In most cases, a mobile website is really a responsive website. You go to Helios.Media, for example, and it knows whether you're on a computer or a smartphone; the site adjusts itself. When you make updates, new features are rolled out to all visitors, without requiring them to download or update anything. 

When you talk to developers about building you one of these, it's always a good idea to ask which they specialize in and which they recommend for what you need.

Conveying a complex message with simple graphics, part III

Graphic, icon, and logo design for social media are just some of the many things we do for clients here at Helios Media. One of the most difficult aspects of design lies in the task of distilling a complicated, multifaceted idea or message into a simple—or at least visually decipherable—graphic, icon or symbol.

In this series of posts, I’ll show you some simple steps that you can take to create better, simpler, more intuitive graphics. Whether in the form of a logo, icon, infographic or web graphic, there are a few core ideas that can help you discover your preferences for—or design for yourself—an image that works for you.

Part III: Embrace extreme simplicity

Say you have to come up with a graphic for a think tank, and their focus is philosophy. How the heck are you supposed to turn something as complex, varied and intellectually taxing as philosophy into a simple image? Your first thought is people. Maybe a bust of Plato or something? Now you’re thinking columns, togas, books, a monocle? Before you know it, you’re banging your head on your desk because philosophy could be anything. What are you supposed to do?

Just writing that paragraph was stressful for me, and I chose philosophy for a reason. So take a breath, relax, and I’ll provide you with a fun fact to calm you down. If you click the first link on any given Wikipedia page, the trail of links will always lead back to one article: philosophy. That officially makes it one hell of a complex subject. But the process of distilling and simplifying remains the same! As an example, here’s what comes to mind for me when I think “philosophy:”

  • Ideas
  • Religion
  • Struggle
  • Thinking
  • Changing cultures
  • Paradigm shifts
  • Questions

Which of these can be symbolized? Let’s break it down.

  •  Ideas? Can’t be visualized, they’re amorphous. We could go the lightbulb route, but you know better than that!
  • Religion? Full of booby-traps and clichés. Controversy should be avoided in this type of design if possible.
  • Struggle? Again, amorphous and clichéd.
  • Thinking? See struggle and ideas.
  • Changing cultures? Pretty hard to show this without a complex series of pictures involving human figures.
  • Paradigm shifts? This is a decent possibility, but hard to convey simply.
  • Questions? There are tons of ways to visualize a question. And really, there’s already an important symbol for it. One that everyone recognizes. One that i just used 8 times in the last paragraph. The question mark! It might be a tad cliché, but let’s explore this further.

There is a subtle difference between clichéd, overused imagery and the visceral, basic, deeply culturally-ingrained symbol. In thinking about the question mark I realized that it’s rarely used as a focal-point in a design. Possibly, it’s considered so basic that it’s often overlooked. Or people fear using it because it makes a design seem trite or outdated. But there are two undeniable facts about it that we can use to our advantage. First, nearly everyone who speaks a romance language (and some who don’t) knows what it means. And, most importantly, it’s damn simple. It’s a line and a dot. You can’t get simpler than that!

I’m not going to show an actual graphic, because I want you to think about it for yourself. What could you do with a question mark to make it special? How could you incorporate other themes of philosophy, or even some of the ones we disregarded above? Creating something simple and powerful is usually more difficult than creating something complicated. In the long run, however, it makes for much more impact and clarity in your designs and in your life.

Conveying a complex message with simple graphics, part II

Graphic, icon, and logo design for social media are just some of the many things we do for clients here at Helios Media. One of the most difficult aspects of design lies in the task of distilling a complicated, multifaceted idea or message into a simple—or at least visually decipherable—graphic, icon or symbol.

In this series of posts, I’ll show you some simple steps that you can take to create better, simpler, more intuitive graphics. Whether in the form of a logo, icon, infographic or web graphic, there are a few core ideas that can help you discover your preferences for—or design for yourself—an image that works for you.

Part II: Avoid cliches & anachronisms

 
Fig. 1

Fig. 1

 

The healthcare symbol (Fig. 1) from part I of this series isn’t just a good example for association and visualization, it’s a great example of an extremely common problem that occurs when you try to create a powerful, simple symbol; you sit down, put your thinking cap on, fire up Google, and then it happens. They’re all over, as far as your eyes can see. They’re…clichés. And they’re everywhere.

 
Fig. 2

Fig. 2

 

For example, the above (Fig. 2) is a graphic I made for the same project as the others in this post. The category this time was “Advanced Manufacturing.” I got started on the research right away, not knowing much about the field myself, and having little to associate with. As soon as i began my search, an endless stream of symbol-vomit was presented to me. Factory buildings, smoke stacks, gears & cogs, trucks, hard hats, etc. The problem with these are not only are they clichés—which aren’t inherently bad if you can find a creative way to portray them—they were also anachronisms. The classic symbol of a factory building is one from the industrial revolution. Trucks and hard hats are all well and fine, but not only does it portray a very non-advanced manufacturing era, it takes the subject and broadens it to encompass far too many professions and industries.

You probably already know what symbols and imagery are cliché. You have seen them a thousand and one times, on subway advertisements, crappy fliers and bad websites. Therefore, they’re fairly easy to avoid—just try to keep the “easy way out” scenario off the table when you’re researching your subject.

Anachronisms are a different matter. When you choose words, symbols and iconography for inspiration, carefully consider whether or not these things are still relevant in today's world. Just because something has been associated with a subject since the dawn of time (read: hardhats and trucks), it doesn’t mean that it’s still effective as a visual representative. For instance:

  • Computers. Most people use laptops these days, and computers are thinner and sleeker than ever. So using an old beige-era PC as a symbol for IT? It doesn’t work.

  • Time. How many people do you know who still own an analog, bell-adorned alarm clock? Or a grandfather clock with a pendulum? How many operating clock towers do you encounter on a daily basis? Though clocks and watches are still extremely pervasive in our world, there are better ways to show them that might make your design stand out.

  • Audio/Visual. Though many old-timey symbols for audio, film, etc. have become incorporated into modern computer icons, a great way to visualize these concepts creatively is to reject those out-dated symbols. Does music really look like a megaphone? Does film really look like a double-reel camera from the ‘40s? Does television really look like a square box with rabbit ears?

Keep asking yourself these questions with every project you have, and your result will probably be a more creative, more original, and more striking graphic.

Stay tuned for part III of our ongoing blog series, Conveying a complex message with simple graphics.

Conveying a complex message with simple graphics, part I

Graphic, icon, and logo design for social media are just some of the many things we do for clients here at Helios Media. One of the most difficult aspects of design lies in the task of distilling a complicated, multifaceted idea or message into a simple—or at least visually decipherable—graphic, icon or symbol.

In this series of posts, I’ll show you some simple steps that you can take to create better, simpler, more intuitive graphics. Whether in the form of a logo, icon, infographic or web graphic, there are a few core ideas that can help you discover your preferences for—or design for yourself—an image that works for you.

Part I: Associate and visualize

Sitting down with Illustrator or Photoshop and trying to tackle a graphic right away is a great way to wind up frustrated and over-caffeinated with very little progress made. Just as you might write an outline before a paper or article, or write a list before hitting the grocery store, the design process is always best when it starts with brainstorming and sketching. A lot of my process happens before a single line is drawn.

The key to this step? Association and visualization.

Simply put: what words, phrases, images and symbolism are socially, culturally, or historically associated with your concept? This doesn’t have to be hours of research, or dozens of books checked out from the library. A good way to start is by googling your concept. In the example below, I made a graphic for a “Tech” category (Fig. 1). The first thought that came to my head was “silicon chip.” I did some light googling to remind myself of how they looked, simplified the concept so that it could be understood with as little detail as possible, and made some sketches that would become the graphic.

 
Fig. 1

Fig. 1

 

Obviously this was a best-case scenario for me. Ideas don’t always come that easily. For the graphic below (Fig. 2), I had to think of a way to show the category of “Healthcare.” Obviously the equal-armed cross came to mind, but it seemed too cliché to me. After some research I came up with the core words and symbols that seemed to always be associated with healthcare: cross, heart, syringe, monitors, doctors, stethoscope, nurses. I narrowed it down to cross, heart, and monitors, as doctors, nurses and stethoscope would be difficult to portray without including a human figure. Syringes are scary and can have a negative connotation, so I eliminated that concept as well. Some sketches later, I decided to go with the heartbeat superimposed on the cross. Simple, effective, and clear.

 
Fig. 2

Fig. 2

 

Keep googling and thinking. No matter how confusing it can get, it’s never more difficult than when you attempt to go in cold

Stay tuned for part II of our ongoing blog series, Conveying a complex message with simple graphics.

Three quick Instagram tips for business

1. If you're a brick-and-mortar business, make sure your address is in your bio. If you need people to walk in the door, it has to be easy for them to find you. 

2. If you're using your account for business, do not set it to private, especially if it has your company name on it, or is linked to your work email. Instagram now makes it really easy to toggle among different accounts, so you no longer need to log in and out every time you want to switch. You can have private account linked to your personal email address, and a separate public one for work.  

3. Watch the hashtags. Never use more than three, and it's even better to use only one. 

New name!

A bigger business sometimes needs a bigger name. We're happy to announce that the business formerly known as Alexandra Go, LLC has outgrown its name, and will now be known as Helios Media. 

We'll still be offering the same services we have been, and there are plans to add more over the next year. 

AlexandraGo.com is going to vanish for a bit, and will be coming back later as something a little different. 

Advertising on Social Media
for Non Profits

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Facebook Advertising for Nonprofit Organizations

For nonprofits, social marketing can be difficult to break into, especially when it comes to dealing with Facebook advertising. Some numbers can tell us a lot about how nonprofits perform and what they pay for Facebook advertising.

Nonprofits by the numbers

According to the Salesforce Marketing Cloud report, in 2013, the average figures for non profits were:

  • CTR (click-through rate): 0.205% (vs. 0.171% US avg.)
  • CPC (cost-per-click): $0.19 (vs. $0.24 US avg.)
  • CPM (cost-per-thousand-impressions): $0.52 (vs. $0.67 US avg.)

*Percentiles as compared to other industries

According to the same report in Q1 of 2015, they looked more like this:

  • CTR: 3.72% (vs. 0.84% US avg.)
  • CPC: $0.18 (vs. $0.39 US avg.)
  • CPM: $6.63 (vs. $3.30 US avg.)

But what does all this mean for your organization? Effective Facebook advertising for nonprofits basically boils down to four main areas: your advertising objectives, choosing the right bid type for your message, targeting your constituent audience effectively, and driving conversions with your ads.

Choosing the right objective

Facebook advertising offers several objectives to ads that you will be creating. They essentially allow you to narrow down the result of your ad, whether you want people to visit your page, go to your events, or click through to your website. Your objective can affect how much your ad impressions or clicks will cost you as well.

According to the Salesforce report, the Page Post Engagement objective, advertisers using the CPM bid type will see “relatively inexpensive impressions ($1.36) to an audience with a lower propensity to click on the ads, resulting in a higher CPC. With CPC bids, the cost per click is the lowest at $0.18, but the users are just clicking on the ad, not engaging with it in other ways.”

The M&R Social Media Benchmarks Report for 2015 shows a good breakdown of where companies are spending their money, which can give you a good picture of what to focus on for your advertising objectives. On average, companies spend their advertising budgets on:

  • Lead Generation Advertising: 38%
  • New Donor Acquisition: 31%
  • Paid Search Advertising: 23%
  • Existing Supporter Conversion: 4%
  • Branding: 4%

When creating a campaign, keep these objectives in mind.

Choosing the right bid type

Your bid type is linked to both your objective and your budget. Deciding how much to spend on advertising can be difficult, and a vast array of numbers and suggestions float freely in the blogosphere when searching for guidance on this issue. But let’s focus on the data. M&R found that “overall, nonprofits invested $0.04 in digital advertising for every dollar raised online.” Though the number can vary between $0.01 and $0.14 on the dollar depending on the industry, the study found that their top performing groups spent an average of $0.12 digital advertising for every dollar raised online in 2015.

With average non-profit figures of $0.18 CPC and $6.63 CPM, your budget can seriously limit your reach online. But choosing the correct bid type, in conjunction with an efficient objective, can drop your costs and increase your ads performance in a big way.

If you’re interested in an overall boost of your Facebook presence, bidding by CPM (cost-per-thousand-impressions) would be the logical option. If your organization is more focused on driving traffic to your website, a CPC (cost-per-click) bid would be optimal. If you want ad recipients to buy or sign up for something on your website (usually called a conversion), bidding by CPA (cost-per-action) might make the most sense for you.

Facebook gives you a wide range of pricing options. You can choose to set a budget for a specific goal or a period of time, you can pay for clicks, presence or actual, measurable actions. Some suggest starting with a lower figure and adding more money to your budget as you measure the effectiveness of your ads. The general consensus, though, seems to be testing is key. Set a budget you’re comfortable with, find your audience, and test, test, test! The more specific and efficient you are with your ad reach, the less your campaigns will cost you.

Accurately targeting your audience

The next key to efficient and effective advertising is your audience. According to M&R, “digital advertising budgets are largely devoted to identifying, acquiring, and converting new donors, with lead generation and new donor acquisition together accounting for 69% of total investments.”

If you’re a nonprofit, you’ve got an advantage! Most nonprofits have existing email lists, and you can use this to target your audience and deliver your ads to people who will actually care about them, which is the best and easiest way to make your dollars count. M&R found in the same report that for every 1,000 email subscribers, the average organization has 355 Facebook fans, 132 Twitter followers, and 19 Instagram followers. Nonprofits with larger email lists spend about 13x more on digital advertising than those with smaller lists, but this cost lies in reaching far more people.

Regardless of its size, matching your email lists and donor files to Facebook profiles has several advantages. You can reach an audience of people that you already have a pre-existing relationship with, helping your organization with donor retention and reactivation. This in turn can have a big effect on cutting costs in advertising, as a refined and specific audience usually leads to more efficient ad spending.

Adding your lists will also give you more accurate access to your fans’ Facebook friends, giving you a very specific and low-cost audience to source new engagements and likes from. As one article puts it, “friends of friends are frequently the most cost effective likes to add on Facebook.”

Driving conversions with your ads

If you’re more focused on driving traffic to your website for the purpose of signing up for your newsletter, registering to volunteer, signing a petition or donating to your organization, your campaign objectives and ad set bid types should reflect it. But ad campaign set up doesn’t get you all the way to cost effective, efficient, high-conversion ads. Luckily, there are several things your organization can do to boost your ads’ effectiveness and conversion rates.

First, let’s lay out the stats. A “good conversion rate” is an elusive figure. The figure varies wildly by industry, and the median percentage is not necessarily a measure of what you should be aiming for. A WordStream study shows us that the bottom 25% of accounts on Facebook have a less than 1% conversion rate, which by all accounts is pretty grim.

The report also shows, however, that the overall average is 2.35%, the top 25% reached an average of 5.31%, and the top 10% an average of 11.45%. According to Formstack, nonprofits have one of the highest form conversion rates at 15% (4% higher than the overall average). Boiled down, this means that while a 5% conversion rate puts you in the 75th percentile of Facebook accounts, a rate of 10%-20% is perfectly attainable and although rare, not entirely unrealistic. That being said, if your organization is just starting out, try shooting for an average conversion rate of 10%.

So what affects your conversion rate? Some factors are similar to those for other ads. M&R found, unsurprisingly,that “higher spending on paid advertising was correlated with higher growth in the number of website visitors per month. Groups that spent more on advertising [have] more aggressive donor conversion strategies overall.”

Besides the factors that affect the ad effectiveness as a whole, conversions depend a lot on how appealing your ad is. Is your newsletter actually worth signing up for? Should people really donate to your cause? And, most importantly, does your ad attract and hold the attention of those it may appeal to? The 2015 Salesforce report showed that advertisers from nonprofits and other organizations had the most interesting and attractive creative for their ads, averaging the highest click-through rates for Q1 of 2015. So as a rule, try to turn your ad into a story worth following. The value of a well crafted narrative and a relatable image can’t be overstated. Make an effort to make your audience care! Another ethos-based strategy is to use your own pre-existing audience to your advantage. Facebook users’ preferences and actions online are susceptible to those of their friends and others in their social network. Simply seeing a friend’s name in an ad can lead to a higher conversion rate. Don’t miss an opportunity to work your target audience for new leads and higher conversions.

More technical factors apply as well. Formstack found that when looking for form conversions, “the type of form you use can make a difference. Contact forms, for example, only have a 3% conversion rate… [whereas] contests and surveys…convert at 28% and 21%, respectively. Event registrations convert at 11%, and participants are likely to be qualified leads.” Native links and videos (links to outside websites that you post inside the Facebook status window) will also receive preference over other ad types, part of Facebook’s complex system of visibility and ad efficiency.

Enough numbers! What’s all this mean?

As long as this report is, it distills down to a simple message; as a nonprofit, you’re not exempt from having a social media presence or the advertising budget and efforts that must accompany it if you want to achieve a reasonable degree of success and visibility. That being said, you don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to do well on social media, and you don’t have to have an enormous endowment to make a killing with your social media advertisements!

If numbers and measures aren’t your thing, the key to cheap, efficient and effective advertising is the following threefold approach.

Be specific.

Find your target audience and pinpoint them to what might seem like an absurd degree. Set your objectives and your budgets for specific goals, and test them against one another. Your ad is a dart, not an atom bomb. Go for the soft spot!

Be creative.

You’re not trying to sell people cars. You’re not a cell carrier or a furniture warehouse, and your ads should reflect that. You have a mission statement and a cause, and if your ads are going to be successful, you need to find people who care and make them care even more. Craft a story. Weave a tale. Hook your audience and reel them in.

Be thorough.

We can’t say this enough. TEST! Test, test, test. Make an ad, then make another with a slight change. Make an ad and send it to a few different audiences. Try running your ads at different times of day, with different frequency, at different bid rates and types. Then test them against one another. The more you experiment, track, and measure, the cheaper and more efficient your ads will be.

For more articles & advice, check out our website at alexandrago.com

WordPress vs. Squarespace

    If you’ve listened to a podcast in the last two years, you’ve probably heard of SquareSpace. If you were around when blogging became popular, or have tried to make your own website any time since then, you’ve probably heard of WordPress, too. These two platforms are probably the most popular ways to make your own website on the internet right now.

If you’re looking to make a website, you might find yourself torn between these two options. The difficult part about making this decision is that they’re both solid options for those of us who don't know a coding language. They can both be used for creating sites with a wide variety of uses. Here, we’ll outline what makes them different and which one to choose when designing a site that fits your needs.


WordPress

The Pros:

WordPress is great if you have an extremely specific site function you need carried out, or if you want specific code carried over from a previous site. It’s extremely customizable, and provides integration with a million and one other services across the web, from online shopping programs to video and image hosting sites. Wordpress is uniquely proficient at cataloging and databasing information you add to your site, making it good for those who need a solid backup of their pages at all times, whether for export or security reasons. Unfortunately for the company, one of the best things about this function is that it makes it very easy to log, save, and export a WordPress site to another platform.

The Cons:

WordPress has a few issues that people who aren’t very web-savvy will find hard to get over. The back-end interface of WordPress can be clunky, and is at times difficult to navigate and counter-intuitive. Its lack of simplicity could intimidate those seeking to make a basic, good-looking site.

Which brings us to another major con: templates. There are thousands of templates one can use to create a WordPress site, which — in our opinion — can feel like drowning in a sea of mediocre choices instead of picking the best out of a few good options. These factors, combined with a lack of CSS integration & responsiveness across multiple devices can lead to over-complicated, outdated looking websites that are hard to update.

Who should use it?

WordPress is best suited for those who have some coding knowledge, or who have code they’d like to see transferred from another platform. The degree of customization available for WordPress sites makes them uniquely beneficial to those with sites that serve a specific function, especially for gathering data. We recommend WordPress to anyone who has a site where functionality and integration with other services takes precedence over design and usability.


Squarespace:

The Pros:

Squarespace has some great advantages for people looking to make a simple, pretty website with basic functionality and integration. They have a small number of templates, but they’re all very well designed with specific site use in mind, from photographer portfolios to musician’s pages to small business and personal blogs. Their templates are all 100% responsive, which mean’s they’ll scale perfectly on a laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc. The design is sharp, simple CSS with fonts and layouts that scream “2016” instead of “2006.” The back-end interface is simple, minimalist and incredibly easy to understand. Inputting content is — in many cases — as easy as dragging and dropping from a comprehensive pop-up menu of features. Integration is available with many popular sites and programs, including MailChimp, Google software, and various video and image hosting sites. Tweaks to design and customization are easy and fool-proof.

The Cons:

Squarespace can be hard to customize if a very particular degree of control is what you’re after. Some templates block changes in ways that can be frustrating, especially if you have a very clear idea of what you want your site to look like. Drag-and-drop isn’t always perfect, and spacing issues can be a hassle. Code injection is simple enough, but sometimes conflicts with pre-existing templates in a way that can be confusing and difficult. Integration is smooth, but there is a much smaller variety of sites available for connection. Those who want a special looking site without doing the work of customization may find the template selection small for their liking.

Who should use it?

Squarespace is ideal for the individual, creative professional, or small business looking for a clean, beautiful, functional website. It’s perfect for those who seek to integrate social media, email tools, online shopping, or a blog into their website. It is also great for those who like to design their own web graphics, but lack the knowledge or software to create code around these specialized designs. If you use a lot of stock photos or images of your own on your site, Squarespace has a wonderfully designed interface for displaying them.

Squarespace has the unique advantage of working on a sliding scale of customization. You can do as much or as little tweaking as you’d like and your site is likely to come out looking sharp. Whether you have no knowledge of code or you like to create your own CSS, Squarespace is a great and easy option.


So which should you choose? It all comes down to what you need for your own site. To most individuals and small businesses who don’t have the skill or time to fool around with code or spend hours tweaking individual settings, we highly recommend Squarespace. You can make a fully-functional, gorgeous site in hours. For those who require a highly specialized, highly personalized sight with lots of integration potential and code inject-ability, we recommend WordPress. Though it takes some effort, you can create a needle-fine focus for your site and grab valuable data along the way.

Designing for Social Media, Part 1: Knowing Where it's Needed

By Ross Cameron

If you’re running a business, organization, cause, or campaign, one thing becomes abundantly clear: you need to have a social media presence. Being active on social media shows people that you’re active and alive, that your business is thriving, and that you’re producing a good or service that people should actually be interested in. In this series, we’ll cover just a narrow aspect of the complicated world of social media.

If you know design, you know it has a place in almost every aspect of life. All around you, all the time, you see graphic design, industrial design, product design, UI & UX design, and more. It might not be obvious, but the best and most successful social media pages usually have designers involved, producing graphics that aid and amplify their messages.

Here, we’ll outline some basics of design for social media.

Part I: Knowing where it’s needed

An integral part of amping up your company’s online visual presence is knowing where in your internet sphere of influence a design overhaul is needed. Below are some points to keep you on the right track.

Avatars are essential

The avatar — or profile picture — is the first step to social media design bliss. If you’re a fashion brand and your Facebook profile picture is a cat in a tuxedo, you’re missing a major opportunity.

Your profile picture on any social media website should always be one of two things:

  1. Your logo. Preferably a square-format version of your logo, in as high a resolution as possible (we’ll cover using correct formatting for web images later in this blog series).
  2. Some other relevant image. Maybe it's a well-done picture of your company staff, with your logo in the image. Or it's a great photo of the product you offer.

Any other kind of image could potentially confuse people. This image will usually be the first thing users see associated with the name of your company. Don’t miss the opportunity to form an association in their minds. 

Cover images are important.

We’ll have a section on how to design a good cover image for Facebook, Twitter, and others. For now, it’s important to know that these can be incredibly tricky to get right, but very useful and cool if done correctly!

Consistency is key

Your avatars, cover images, colors, fonts, etc. etc. should be identical across social media platforms. Again, it’s all about avoiding confusion! A nice, clean, consistent image is skyrocketed above a sloppy, unprofessional, haphazard presence 100% of the time.

These general tips are good to keep in mind, especially when reading our coming segments. We’ll go in-depth into common frustrations around designing for social media, and provide tips and tricks for making your accounts shine.

For more tips on social media, website development and graphic design, stay tuned to our blog at Alexandra Go!

4 things I started using this year

By Alexandra Golaszewska

1. You know how scheduling a meeting can take forever? All that back-and-forth to find a time? This year I discovered Schedule Once.

It hooks up with my Google calendar to show my availability, and to put things on my calendar once they’ve been scheduled. Within Schedule Once, I can set some rules — meetings can only be scheduled during certain hours, I need at least a day’s notice, etc.

When someone asks for a meeting or call with me, I send my link. The person then suggests several times. I can accept one, or I have the option to ask for for something else. 

2. SpiderOak is automatic backup software that runs in the background, and is rated very well when it comes to privacy. Even Edward Snowden recommends it. This saved me a couple of months ago when a botched system software installation forced me to reformat my entire hard drive. 

3. Morris Levin of Elysian Fields told me about Dashlane. You set up an account, and you can share logins to websites without sharing the actual password. It makes housekeeping a lot easier — you don’t have 20 usernames and passwords floating around in email — and it also allows you to give someone temporary access, which you can easily revoke.

4. I’ve been using Evernote for years to organize notes by topic, but I just realized how fantastic it is for helping me to get rid of paper documents. If you have a stack of paper and an iPhone, you can hold the phone as you flip through the stack of paper. It will capture an image for each page, and you can save it all in one document with a name that will make it easy for you to find later. 

Why your business needs a social media policy

By Alexandra Golaszewska

Example 1: A service provider has a thousand independent salespeople all over the United States. Some of them use social media, but the company hasn't provided any guidelines on how to do it. There are Facebook pages and Twitter feeds under the corporate name and variations of it, using wildly varying graphics featuring the logo. There's no consistency, it's totally confusing for customers, and no one has any idea what will happen to these accounts when a person operating one of them leaves to work for a competitor.

Example 2: A retail store's employees are very active on Twitter. They post photos from work, talk up the products and retweet things from the company's account, which is great. But they also complain on Twitter when they're unhappy about something, which isn't so great.

Example 3: A bar/restaurant has been doing a pretty good job with their social accounts, which are being handled by a waitress who just finished college and knows what she's doing on social media. She posts about happy hour deals and live music, and while the following isn't huge, it consists of people who are within a close radius and are in their target market. Things are good until a local food blogger with a sizable following has a bad experience and starts tweeting about it. The waitress isn't authorized to offer anything to the disgruntled customer, and the restaurant manager thinks this isn't a big deal and tells her to ignore it.

 

How to un-send a Gmail message you regret

By Alexandra Golaszewska

Everyone has done this: you hit Send on an email and immediately wish you hadn't. Google has a fix for that. Undo Send has been available via Google Labs for a while, but now it's part of every user's Gmail options. Here's how to set it up:

  • In your main Mail window, go to the gear on the upper right.
  • Click it and go down to Settings.
  • Scroll down and click Enable Undo Send.
  • Set your cancellation period; you can have up to 30 seconds.

The secret weapon that improves your smartphone photos

By Alexandra Golaszewska

Some photographers say that the best camera is the one you have with you. I have a DSLR, but I almost never use it anymore because I always have my iPhone with me. I know a lot of people who share images via Instagram or Facebook. Some get frustrated when they see "better" photos from other users, and they wonder why theirs don't look as good.

The trick is photo editing software. I'm not talking about full-on Photoshop, which takes a long time to learn. I'm using simple smartphone apps. The two I use most frequently are Adobe Photoshop Express and Snapseed. Both are free, and both are available for iPhone as well as Android.

I'm not going to go into detail about the tools; what works best will depend on your original image, and if you play around with the software you can learn it pretty quickly.

Here's my original shot, taken while it was snowing. The church and trees are beautiful, but I think the greyness is depressing.

snowy1

Here it is after I brightened it up in Snapseed, and adjusted the contrast:

snowy2

A big improvement, but there's also too much going on here. The cars in the foreground become the focal point, stealing the show from the church and trees. The solid white sky isn't adding anything, so I'd like to see less of it. I don't like it when my photos bleed right into the background, like this one does where the sky color is very close to white. I want to crop some things out and add a border.

Here it is after I put it through Instagram, which took care of the cropping and border. If you aren't an Instagram user, you can get these effects within the other apps:

photo 3

If you're on Instagram, you can follow me over there: @AlexandraGo.

#Facebook #hashtags: What you need to know

By Alexandra Golaszewska

You may have heard that Facebook is rolling out hashtags. If you're only on Facebook and not on Twitter or Instagram, you might not be too familiar with them. Hashtags — words or strings of words preceded by a # — are a quick way to find social media posts by topic. Spaces and punctuation don't work, so if you're talking about New York City you'd use #newyork, not #new york. Click on a hashtag, and you'll see posts from other users who have also used it, presumably about the same topic. If you want to see how powerful this can be, head over to Twitter right now and search for, say, #Brazil.

What you need to know: Facebook wants to encourage more public sharing of content. If you're trying to get a message out about an event or a brand, this is great for you, but you might not want your personal account to be so open.

What you need to do: If you post on Facebook with hashtags, look for the little toggle near the post to check its visibility. Options will include Public, Friends, etc. (There's lots you can do with your privacy settings, and that's a longer topic for another post.) Hashtags will also become active on older posts that were made when they didn't do anything, so if you've been using them for a while you might want to review those too. And keep in mind that they showed up on Facebook if you were cross-posting with them from Twitter or Instagram.

Laser consulting sessions and social media audits are going away next month. Last call! If you're interested in one of these, book it ASAP.

Have a question for the next one? Email me at Alexandra@AlexandraGo.com.