Facebook Page Post Strategy

Facebook organic reach for business pages has been plummeting, it’s true. In fact, probably a whole 3 percent of your Facebook followers are seeing your posts. Let’s face it, in the swelling tide of Facebook content, all status posts’ organic reach will be on the decline.

What’s a business Page to do?  Be solution oriented!

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Marketing Theatre: Spokane Civic Theatre

CIVIC THEATRE 2014-15 SEASON ARTWORK UNVEILED

GETTING STARTED:

Early in January, Spokane Civic Theatre chose Design Spike®, Inc. to produce the marketing materials and branding for their 2014-15 season. At the same time, Todd Zyph accepted a position with Design Spike. What better way to start a new relationship than marketing theatre?

Todd reviewed previous theatre marketing materials from Civic and other theatres and worked with Jim Humes at the Spokane Civic Theatre, Chris Wooley at Heads and Tails Photography, and Allyson Shoshana at Design Spike to determine the right “feel” for the new season.

“I’ve got to admit there was a pretty steep learning curve when I first got involved with Civic Theatre. I am not the kind of guy that regularly attends community theatre. I’ll be honest, I have never once seen a live play unless you count the Christmas production I was in back in the sixth grade. I wasn’t going to let that slow me down, so I dove right in,” Todd says.

BREAK OUT THE BRUSHES:

The models were photographed by Chris Wooley, who did a great job pulling emotion (or over-emotion) out of them. The raw images were amazing and worked perfectly with the overall concept Todd had developed to brand for marketing the theatre season. In order to differentiate the new season from the previous season, the overall design aesthetic was intended to represent the artistic nature of theatre.

Todd says, “I brushed up on my Photoshop skills, broke out the digital paint brushes and got to work turning Chris’ images into digital paintings.” Subject matter and backgrounds were added and subtracted as needed.

Artwork for local community theatre, Spokane Civic Theatre, designed by Design Spike

GETTING DOWN WITH TYPOGRAPHY:

Once the “paintings” were completed, the focus turned to typography and the titles of the plays and musicals. While there are a number of “logo packs” available for many theatre productions, to create a consistent look and feel for each show while demonstrating the personality of the production, new vector typography was created.

The shows each had their own identity and typography that fit in with the overall theme of the season.  The following are the vectors Design Spike created for the show titles:

2014-15 Spokane Civic Theatre Season Logos design and created by Design Spike

 

TYING ALL THE THEATRE MARKETING TOGETHER:

The main goal for the overall look and feel of Spokane Civic Theatre’s 2014-15 season theatre marketing was to provide a clean, consistent design aesthetic throughout all of the theatre’s marketing pieces. This was accomplished by choosing a simple two-color palette to represent the season. The color palette ties everything together and allows individual theatre productions to stand on their own.

Below are a couple of the spreads from the new season brochure (which should be printed any day now) and a redesign of the website (which should launch within the next month):

Excerpts from Spokane Civic Theatre brochure and new website by Design Spike

MORE TO COME:

Design Spike has been and continues to be excited about developing the marketing and branding collaterals for the 2014-15 season at Spokane Civic Theatre. Jim Humes, Managing Director of Civic Theatre says,

“I am pleased with the quality of work and design created by Design Spike. Their grasp of a community theatre’s needs helped make this season’s branding a smooth process with beautiful results. Spokane Civic Theatre looks forward to a long-term relationship with Design Spike. They have more than successfully met our needs”.

Yes, there is more art to come. Keep your eyes peeled for additional print and marketing materials over the course of the next year / season!

And don’t forget to go to the theatre!

To see more on the 2014-2015 theatre marketing, check out Civic’s launch blog.

Website Launch: Benefit Aid

Design Spike recently launched a website for a newly developed company, Benefit Aid.

Company Overview

Benefit Aid, a supplemental health insurance company, contracted with Design Spike to create a conversion oriented website. The website, which launched late in April, needed to highlight benefits offered such as “Job Loss Protection” and compel visitors to purchase a supplement plan. Benefit Aid provides health, dental, vision and chiropractic insurance supplements in one package and even offers pet care savings. Their new site needed to:

  • provide coverage information
  • show clear pricing and savings
  • make it easy for website visitors to complete their registration and purchase supplemental coverage

Implementing an Objective Focused Design

Design Spike worked with Benefit Aid’s parent company, DW Van Dyke, to brand the company and create a content managed, responsive website. The website had to be geared towards increasing enrollment. We created the website architecture and design with the following in mind:

  • grab the user’s attention
  • minimize distractions
  • concisely deliver product information

We approached the design with minimalism in mind and stripped down the navigation as much as possible to direct the viewer to the content they were looking for. Straightforward design and a focus on calls to action simplified the overall user experience.

Spokane Website Design and Development Benefit Aid, Client

Website Project Goals

The project goals were to develop a clean, efficient website site with sections that could be populated via an RSS feed. A responsive design ensured the end user an optimized browser experience by adjusting the website layout so the site was viewable across all devices without pinching or horizontal scrolling.

The final product is a clean, modern, functional site that meets both Benefit Aid’s needs and the needs of their current and potential customers.

Sort on Facebook News Feed for Pages Missing

Vanishing News Feed for Facebook Page’s Most Recent Posts

Oh, You Poor Brands: Facebook Is At It Again

Of course, they are. Facebook is not going to sit still and let Facebook be Facebook. There are far too many improvements (?) to be made and far to much revenue to be gained. You’ve heard it once, twice, three times and will continue to hear it: The latest Facebook changes are killers for brands and business pages. Oh my. But let’s save that for another post, shall we?

Seeing Your Most Recent News Stories (When Logged In As A Page)

This post is about controlling your news feed when you are logged in as your page / brand / business. We’ve noticed some complaints from Facebook marketers who have logged in to Facebook as their Page only to notice their news feed only showing “Top News” and they do not have an option to select “Most Recent Posts”. See below:

Facebook news feed changes for business post showing Top News only

Notice the dearth of choices to show Most Recent Posts? Vanished. Gone. Disappeared. Leaving brands / businesses / Pages to assume that they can now only view posts Facebook considers to be most relevant. There’s that darned algorithm again. But wait. We have a solution.

How To Display Most Recent Posts on Your Facebook Page News Feed

Notice the url when you first click Home navigation. It should look something like this: https://www.facebook.com/?sk=h_nor. That url resolves to Facebook Top News for your Page. Not most recent. So, by playing a little url switch-a-roo, you can bring back your most recent posts. Try this to sort your Facebook news feed for most recent posts:  https://www.facebook.com/?sk=h_chr. You’ll see something that looks like this.

Facebook news feed for Business Pages shows most recent items

Notice something different besides seeing the most recent news feed posts? Lookee there! Your missing “Viewing most recent stories – Back to top stories” has suddenly reappeared. So bookmark the url: https://www.facebook.com/?sk=h_chr to see most recent stories in your Facebook feed.

Did you find this helpful? What other Facebook challenges have you had?

Previous posts on Vanishing Facebook feeds and this one, on, well, yet another work around for those Vanishing Facebook news feeds for pages.

Website Launch: Mother’s Cupboard

Design Spike’s Latest Website Launch

Mother’s Cupboard has been providing healthy, natural foods and other products to clients for over 35 years. Started in Moses Lake in 1997, Mother’s Cupboard moved to Spokane, where it opened its first shops in shopping malls. As the retail business evolved, the Company moved its stores to strip mall locations and began selling their products using an ecommerce website. Mother’s Cupboard has five brick-and-mortar stores as well as a thriving online business.

Mother’s Cupboard previous 10-year-old website was provided by a company that specialized in boilerplate websites for health food stores.  The site was dated. Mother’s Cupboard found that the website was difficult for visitors to navigate, had an overly extensive inventory, and was challenging to update.

Design Spike Website Launch Mother's Cupboard Before and After

New website design and development needs included:

  • Scaling down the number of online products to between 1,000 and 1,500
  • Creating a search feature by product, brand, category, etc.
  • Investigating new e-commerce solutions
  • Exploring the idea of allowing online purchasers to see previously ordered products
  • Determining international shipping rates
  • Developing a content management system
  • Creating a newsletter to alert their clientele on the latest specials and news in the natural foods and products world

Website Solutions Provided by Design Spike

In order to meet the client’s needs, Design Spike:

  • Developed a customized website design with clear navigation that included a mobile responsive design making it easy for customers to shop on their phones or desktops.
  • Scaled down inventory and navigation to make it easier for a website visitor to make choices and purchases.
  • Built a custom content management system that allows Mother’s Cupboard to make changes to the website.
  • Created an absolutely rad ecommerce website that streamlined browsing and buying by getting rid of distractions.

Design Spike Mothers Cupboard Ecommerce Website Launch

The newly designed Mother’s Cupboard website was just recently launched and Design Spike’s customers are not only thrilled with the new design, but the new functionality as well.

“Throughout our web site design and programming experience, I have found
the Design Spike team to be competent, responsive, and accessible”. – Scott League, Mother’s Cupboard

MAKE YOUR WEBSITE WORK IN 2014

Great, You’ve Got a Website, Now What?

Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Are you getting visitors?
  • Are your visitors turning in to clients?
  • Is your website showing up in search when folks go looking for your product or service?
  • When did you build your website? Three, five, ten years ago?
  • Does your website design look stale or old?
  • Does your competitor have a newer site? Are they outranking you?
  • How fresh is your content?

Bottom line here is that Design Spike builds websites to help our Clients improve their bottom line. And they do. But the site can’t be static. As technology redefines itself, people’s shopping and searching habits change and it becomes incumbent to adjust with these changes to find better online success. The big question is, what can you do to make your website work for you (read: bring you more business) in 2014?

Put the SEO Down and Step Away

Seriously. I am not saying SEO is dead but I am saying that 2014 is the time to stop trying to game the search engine system. If your website is not ranking for search, there is a reason:

  • it could be that visitors are not finding your website helpful
  • it could be that they can’t read your site on a mobile device because your website is not responsive
  • it could be that they simply cannot find the information they are looking for because of your website’s organization

Your website is about your visitor and potential clients, not about SEO. If it provides a good user experience and helpful content, it will naturally perform better when it comes to search. Why? because people are using it!

As of January we have audited three of our Client’s websites and made clear and direct recommendations to improve user experience, make their website more easy to index and helped them focus on online marketing and strategy. I’ll be keeping an eye on these in the months to come.

Stop Ignoring Mobile: Go Responsive Or Else

We know, we know, we harp on this all the time. Every single website that has gone out our door in the last few years has been responsive. Pig Out in the Park 2011 was our first responsive website. We had no choice. At the time, over 30% of all visitors to the Pig Out site were mobile / smart phones.

The most recent Pew Internet stats show that 91% of all Americans are using mobile devices and of those, 60% are using them to access the internet. Ever wonder why people are leaving your site so quickly? Could be they can’t read it on their phone?

Which is a better mobile user experience? The Spokane Civic Theatre website (which was originally a desktop site converted to responsive) or the NBC site covering the 2014 Winter Olympics ? I know which one I’d spend more time on (my bias towards theatre not withstanding).

Spokane-Civic-Theatre NBC Sochi Olympics website 2014

Promise yourself to find room in your 2014 budget to make your website responsive. Your customers and potential customers will love you for it.

Let Go of Your Love of Vintage

Vintage threads are cool. Vintage cars are cool. Vintage websites are not cool. Your customers want to do business with an organization they trust and respect, an organization that invests in itself.

That old website design dates you. In some cases, it may not work on all browsers. You could be sporting “old code”. Remember, this is the face of your business online. This is how your potential customer gets to know you. Would you rather look outdated (keep the volume down if you are at work) or like one of the cool kids?

PS – if you have flash any where on your website, call us immediately. The time has come to fix that.

Make a Pledge, Update Your Website in 2014

Is your website working for you? Are you ready to grab online marketing by storm in 2014, give SEO the boot, start focusing on users and informative content? You might be surprised to find out what a website audit can do you for you and how affordable updating your website can be. Either way, may you have a most profitable year and may your website work for you in 2014!

Is Your Website Failing You?

It doesn’t matter if you spend $1,000 or $10,000 on your website. If it doesn’t work, it’s failing you. You may not think your business relies on your website to generate leads and sales, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Whether your website was created to lend validation to your business or to convert visitors to sales, a website is one of the most important forms of media you have to reach people. Websites are a lot like traditional advertising vehicles. They must be changed and updated to reflect your industry’s trends and to show that you are the expert in your field, and that you have confidence in your products and/or services.

People become customers. Customers purchase from and support your business. Customers means you succeed. So, if your website is not making you accessible to your customers – say it is not user friendly, mobile friendly, and accessible, your site is probably failing you.

Your website must be created for your customer

Your website is all about your customer, not about you. It’s about what customers need, what they perceive they need, what they want, and how they can get it. Your website’s job is to supply the information that addresses those needs. How do you get there? Start by determining who uses your website and who you want to use your website. Then, build a customer-centric website. Create a list of the issues that your customer would want answered and create a website that answers those needs. Remember, what you want is not necessarily what they need.

Easily Distracted by Shiny Objects

Do you like flashy moving bits or huge images scrolling across your website? Do you hope that people will click those images and navigate further in to your website? Guess what? Those moving and shiny objects actually decrease click-throughs. Most website visitors scroll or navigate away from rotating banners or headers; very few people are actually clicking on them. In the event you have flashy shiny bits on your home page, you are most likely wasting prime homepage real estate that could be used to direct your customers to the products or services you sell

Trying to Say Too Much

Too many choices make choosing impossible. You have about three seconds, if you are lucky, to get your potential customer’s attention. So, if your website visitor is greeted with a page full of graphics, clutter, unusable content, and more, your potential customer may be confused and quickly leave the page. It’s better to have a simple interface that can direct your customer’s attention with laser-like focus to the areas that will serve them best. Try avoiding clutter at all costs.

Mobile is Here to Stay

More and more consumers are turning to mobile and smart devices for purchasing. Ninety-one percent of all Americans have cell phones, and 56% of those are smart phones. Twenty-four percent of those use their smartphone to locate information (such as addresses, phone numbers, contacts, etc.) on local businesses. So, is your website responsive? Does it resize so that images and website elements will adapt to the size of the monitor on which it is being viewed? Or does you customer have pinch and scroll to find the information they are looking for. If they’re pinching and scrolling, they are not going to hang out for very long and your bounce rate for mobile usage is going to go sky high. It’s now necessary, yes necessary, to have a responsive website. 

Is your website failing you? Design Spike blog: screenshot of the makeup studio website in spokane, responsive and desktop

 

Stop Trying to be Fancy

This love affair with industry jargon that peppers websites left and right simply has to go. One, it’s overdone. Two, not everyone understands what you’re trying to say unless you say it clearly. Although those in the same industry may “get it”, people who are learning about your industry or trying to decide whether to use your company for a job, may not understand what a jargon filled website is trying to convey. This may be overly frustrating and cause potential customers to leap to another site. P.S., using industry jargon also sounds really pretentious. Just speak to your audience. They will appreciate you for it.

If Your Website Looks Cheap, People Will Question the Quality of Your Products

We know we live in a world where we get what we pay for. A cheap looking website will rarely, if ever, provide your business with a ROI. In fact, if anything, it could damage you and your reputation and/or might turn away potential customers. Think about it this way, if you want to stand out online and be perceived as professional, why would you cheap out? Why would you want your business to look like it doesn’t have the wherewithal to pay for a well-designed website? If a business’s website does not look credible, business does not look like is not doing well, and customers will and do go somewhere else.

Stop Failing Your Website and it Will Stop Failing You

Take the time and resources to really look at your website and your web presence.

  • At first glance is it clear what your product(s) and/or services are?
  • Do you have a definitive online strategy that keeps site content current and meets the needs of your clients?
  • Do you have attainable website goals? Is your website meeting those goals?
  • Are you damaging your own reputation by ignoring your clients online needs or by providing them inaccurate or old information?
  • Is the site too old to be of value?

Get out of the dark ages and enter the light. Hire a professional who can create a clean, usable website design and develop the website that will market your company. Cheap can only get you so far.

 

 

 

Social Media Fails: Happy Meal Heard ‘Round Coeur d’Alene

How Many Social Media Fails Till We Get It Right?

Using social media without some kind of policy or common sense logic leads to trouble, again and again. How many times must we sit back and watch social media catastrophe after social media catastrophe? Shouldn’t the missteps of Kenneth Cole, Kayser Lingerie , Kitchen Aid and the NRA read like Aesop’s fables where we all learn a lesson? Someone else’s fail, especially in the “infancy” of social media is/was our opportunity to learn how to properly post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Then again, no matter how much preparation or how good our social media strategy or plan is, something will always squeak through. That’s Murphy’s Law. The real question is how we handle our social media mistakes. Enter the latest blunder – this time it’s local, this time it happened in Coeur d’Alene, this time it feels personal. This time it’s about a Happy Meal.

Using Social Media To Call Out A Customer

I was going to write a blog on the measured success or lack thereof in creating “buzz” and name recognition via social media marketing. Instead I ran across a Facebook post by a local restaurant that left me a dumbstruck and presented yet another opportunity to learn from the missteps of others. A local restaurant has a policy of not allowing outside food in their restaurant and they asked a family who came in with children and Happy Meal in tow to remove the food. Please keep in mind that this restaurant primarily serves sushi and Japanese dishes. The family was upset and left the following note on the back of their receipt:

Example of a social media fail in coeur d'alane idaho

And here’s where everything went south. The restaurant posted the note on their Facebook page with the following comment:

This note was left after I told a table that we don’t allow outside food or drink….they brought in a Happy Meal. Yes I made a snide remark about having to throw away a little piece of garbage. Do you think it would be ok to bring Togo food from Syringa into McDonald’s? We do not want to see Starbucks, Big Macs, whoppers or iced lattes in our restaurant, we would however love to see people with open minds and smiling faces.

The fail: No matter how good a restaurant is, no matter how delicious their food, no matter what their reputation, a restaurant is nothing without a customer. A restaurant only exists because of guests and customers. Alienating one customer may not seem like it will make a big impact, but when a business takes to alienating  customers in a public forum such as Facebook, they are probably alienating other customers as well. Calling out a customer (name or no name) in public or airing a grievance with a customer on a very public social media platform, only serves to belittle the restaurant. This is the equivalent to a public slap in the face.

Cue the Comment Machine

And here’s where things got even more interesting. Take a look at some of the 471 comments and you will see support for the restaurant’s policy and against their public outing of their grievance. From comments on questioning the appropriateness of using Facebook to air said grievance to ” Unprofessional and tacky discourteous public shaming of a customer who had a complaint”, the comments run the gamut for and against. Overall, the public seemed displeased with the restaurant’s approach to handling their problems. Note, there were few comments (yes, I read most of them…it’s exhausting, let me tell you) that support the public “slap in the face” that is apparently this restaurant’s social media policy. The restaurant finally weighed in and in what could have been an opportunity to turn a negative around, the restaurant missed the mark again. Their response was obviously written quickly and without thought:

 For you people that think it was ru;de to ” slander people” there were no names given we dont even know there names.maube you do?! we are just tired of people bringing in food from other places. Our food is good. Quit catering to your kid. We have a child too. Never never never….if you dont want to come in anymore. Fair enough. Go eat somewhere they let bring in MacDonald. Oh if it keeps you kid subdued so they dont run around the restaurant. They should not be running around the restaurant. Be a parent not a friend. We have good coffee. ” bumper crop” we should not post…yawn. The customer is not always right. Sorry. (sic)

This Is Why You Need a Social Media Policy

Posting such a comment simply flies in the face of reason. This is not to say the fail is on the scale of Amy’s Bakery, but it is apparent this restaurant lacks a cohesive social media strategy or policy. I’m not sure that anyone has taken a step back, breathed in and out a few times, and started to sort through this social media crisis. By offering an insult, the restaurant did not endear themselves to potential customers. Had they looked at social media as a place to connect to others, promote their culture and their business, to have conversations, to build each other up, they would never have found themselves in this situation in the first place. Every time a business uses social media as their personal rant (I wonder if I am in danger of doing this myself here), they humiliate and belittle themselves and worse, their followers. The price could be in a loss of customers, and damage to their reputation.

Fixing the Damage Once The Damage Has Been Done

The current interpretation or consensus is that the restaurant does not support families with children. A Client of ours with children who actually like sushi responded with “Why the ()#$ would I bring my children to an establishment where I feel like I am being judged or going to be judged if have to yank out a juice box or Cheerio. Worse, I would feel like the staff was talking about me behind my back.” So once the damage has been done, how does one go about fixing it? For the restaurant, this would have been the perfect opportunity to post that it does indeed support families and children and that it understands children have particular eating habits that need to be considered. Providing a well thought out response without throwing stones at customers would have garnered a lot more respect and community support. Instead…

social-media-disaster-coeur-d'alene-social-media

Moral of the Story

Not everyone has the time and energy to put a social media strategy in place or to create a social media crisis management plan. At the very least, if you are an organization or company that relies on customer appreciation and find yourself in a situation like the one mentioned above, before you post your opinion online, stop, breathe, think, and re-read your post. Then, have another person read it and have a third person vet it. Just make sure those vetting it have the business’s best interests in mind, not their egos. The aforementioned restaurant stands behind their approach – regardless of what their Facebook followers or commentators think. We can only hope they have not damaged their business and their bottom line in a moment or two of venting.