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How to Use Facebook Live: The Ultimate Guide

In April 2016, Facebook launched Facebook Live, a live video streaming service that lets anyone broadcast from their mobile devices straight to their Facebook News Feed.

Since its launch, live streaming video has exploded in popularity — particularly on Facebook Live, where according to Vimeo, 78% of online audiences are watching video on Facebook Live as of 2018.

It’s no mystery why Facebook Live is so popular: Videos see 3X the engagement of traditional videos shared on Facebook, and millions of users live stream on Facebook around the world.

Download our Facebook Live guide to learn how to increase your social  following and brand awareness through live video.  

Why are marketers getting so excited about Facebook Live? Because it’s a fun and fairly simple way for them to use the power of video to communicate their brand stories, and build authentic relationships with fans and followers — in real time.

However, for such a simple concept, Facebook Live has a lot of little nuances that marketers will need to learn if they want to get the most out of the platform. This guide will help you learn the best tricks that can make a big difference in how many people see your live broadcast, how they engage with it, and how it performs.

In this post, we’ll walk through the following:

  • How to broadcast on Facebook Live via your mobile device
  • How to go live on Facebook from a desktop
  • How to analyze your live video’s performance
  • Tips and tricks for getting the most out of the platform.

Click here to skip down to our Facebook Live tips.

Free Download_ Facebook Live Guide for Business

Facebook Live started as a mobile-only broadcasting feature, but now, Facebook Pages can broadcast from either mobile devices or desktop computers. We’ll go over how to broadcast from mobile and desktop devices in the sections below.

The following instructions will teach you how to go live on Facebook mobile. To get started, get out your mobile device and open up the Facebook app.

1. Tap the camera icon to the left of your search bar.

Open your Facebook mobile app and visit your News Feed. You’ll see a camera icon to the left of your search bar — tap it to open your camera. You’ll have to give Facebook permission to access your mobile device’s camera and microphone in order to go live.

facebook-camera-icon

You can also go live on your own Facebook profile. Open up the status bar by tapping the text that reads “What’s on your mind?” Then, select the “Go Live” option from the menu, as shown below.

go-live-facebook-status

2. Give Facebook access to your camera and microphone when prompted.

You’ll stop receiving these prompts after the first time you use it.

camera_permission-1

Once you permit Facebook to use your mobile camera, you’ll be asked to permit use of your phone’s camera content, as shown below. This will trigger your ability to switch from using your rear-facing camera to your front-facing camera — options that will come into play in step 7 of this guide.

facebook-camera

3. Switch to “Live” on the bottom of your camera screen.

Once you’ve given Facebook access to your mobile device’s camera and microphone, you’ll be ready to shoot. However, your Facebook camera defaults to non-live photo shooting when you open it.

To switch your Facebook camera to live video, look to the bottom of your screen for the various types of visual content you can create. On the far left, as shown below, you’ll see the setting, “LIVE.” Tap it once. (Don’t worry, you won’t go live right away.)

facebook-camera-live

4. Choose your privacy and posting settings.

In the screenshot below, see how Facebook Live is set to “Only me” and “Post, Story” at the top of the screen? This means only I can see the live video — none of my Facebook friends or followers can — but it’s set to post the video as a regular Facebook post and as a Facebook Story if I want it to. You can change these settings by tapping on them.

facebook-live-privacy-settings

If you’re posting for a brand, you’ll probably want to make it public so it can reach everyone in your audience who’s currently on Facebook. If you’re posting as yourself, you might want to reserve your broadcast for friends — and then set where you want to post this video, as shown below.

But if you’re new to Facebook Live and want to test it out first, or want to prepare your shot before going live, switch your video’s privacy setting to “Only Me.” You can find the “Only me” option by clicking “See More” and tapping the last bubble, per the following screenshot.

facebook-live-post-settings

You might also see options to post your live video only to users in specific networks, such as a college or association you belong to. These options will appear below the “Only me” privacy setting.

5. Write a compelling description.

Give your broadcast a description, which will show up on people’s News Feeds like a status update above the video. To get people to tune in, write an attention-grabbing headline and help them understand what your broadcast is about.

facebook-live-description

Check out the example below from The White House’s live broadcast. As you can see, your video description appears at the top of the live video when Facebook users view it, much like a Facebook photo caption or status update.

white-house-facebook-live-description.jpg
Source: Facebook

6. Tag friends, choose your location, or add an activity.

Tap the icons at the bottom of your screen to tag people who are in the Facebook Live video, add the location from where you’re shooting, or share what you’re doing in the broadcast. These touches can add more personalization to your video, increase discoverability, and make people want to tune in.

facebook-live-video-tag-location

7. Set your camera’s orientation.

Before you click “Start Live Video,” be sure your camera is pointing in the direction you want it to point. In other words, do you want to go live with your front-facing camera lens, or your rear-facing camera lens?

The background of your setup screen will show you what your camera sees. If you want to change the camera view to selfie or vice versa, simply click the rotating arrows icon in the upper-righthand corner of your screen, as shown below.

Camera flip orientation icon in Facebook Live video

The video will be a square, so it doesn’t matter whether you hold your mobile device vertically or horizontally.

8. Add lenses, filters, or writing and drawing to your video.

Tap the magic wand icon to the left of the blue “Start Live Video” in the center of your screen, and choose if you want to add lenses to your face, change the filter of the camera, or write or draw to make the video more whimsical.

Depending on your version of Facebook mobile, some of your editing and filter options will look like the settings below.

Lenses and emojis in Facebook Live
Filter options in Facebook Live
Drawing options in Facebook Live

9. Click the blue “Start Live Video” button to start broadcasting.

Once you click it, Facebook will give you a countdown — “3, 2, 1 …” — and then you’ll be live. As soon as you start streaming, your live video will appear in your News Feed — and others’ News Feeds — just like any other post.

Blue "Start Live Video" button in Facebook mobile app

Your broadcast can be up to 90 minutes long. Keep in mind that the longer you broadcast, the more people who are scrolling through their News Feeds on Facebook will stumble upon your post.

10. Interact with viewers and commenters.

To keep your viewers engaged, encourage them to interact with your live video (which will help your ranking in others’ News Feeds). You can also interact with them both by speaking directly to them in your video and, if you want, by having someone else respond to comments from a desktop computer elsewhere.

Where can you see these comments? While you’re broadcasting, you’ll see the time elapsed on the top left along with the number of viewers, and comments will show up live on the bottom of your feed. They’ll appear in reverse chronological order, like on Twitter, so keep in mind that the earlier ones may be farther down.

Comments and reactions under Facebook Live video
Source: Facebook Newsroom

Note: You can also block viewers during a live broadcast by tapping the profile picture next to a viewer’s comment and then tapping “Block.” You can unblock someone you’ve previously blocked, too.

11. Click “Finish” to end the broadcast.

Once you do this, the video will stay on your Timeline or Page like any other video post.

12. Post your reply and save the video to your camera roll.

Once you finish your broadcast, you’ll be met with a screen similar to the one I’ve screenshot below. If you want to post it, that will enable others to view your video once you’ve stopped broadcasting. Then, tap the download button to save the video to your camera roll so you have a copy of the original for safekeeping.

FBlivepostreplay.png

You can always go back to the post on your Timeline or Page and edit the description, change the privacy settings, or delete the video, just like you would any other post.

FBlive_post.png

How to Go on Facebook Live From Desktop

If you’re an admin or editor of a Facebook Page for your brand, you can also broadcast live from a desktop computer. This isn’t as spontaneous as broadcasting from a mobile device (and, obviously, isn’t as mobile), but this could be a good option for filming more static broadcasts. For example, we recently broadcast a Facebook Live panel in celebration of International Women’s Day. The panelists and interviewer sat in place the entire time, an example of when broadcasting from a steadier device could be more effective.

1. Go to your Page and tap the “Write something” box, as if you’re writing a new post.

FB_live_desktop_see all.png

Tap the menu option to “See All,” and click on “Start a Live Video.”

FB_live_desktop_1.png

2. Write a compelling description of your video that will appear on your Page’s Timeline and in the News Feed.

Choose a descriptive and enticing summary to draw viewers in and make them unmute your Facebook Live to start watching.

FB_live_desktop_2.png

Then, click “Next.”

3. Give Facebook permission to use your computer’s camera and microphone.

You won’t be prompted for this again once you do it for the first time.

fb_live_desktop_3.png

4. Check to make sure your description and video view are final before starting your broadcast.

fb_live_desktop_5.png

From here, you also have the option to share live video from an external device, such as a video camera or other recording device. Tap “click here” to set up that connection.

5. Press “Go Live” to start your broadcast.

Facebook will give you a “3, 2, 1 … ” countdown before going live. Tap “Finish” when you’re ready to end the broadcast.

6. The broadcast will appear in the News Feed and on your Page’s Timeline, where you can edit it by tapping the drop-down arrow in the upper-righthand corner.

From here, you can change the description, change the date of posting, or create a new Facebook post featuring the broadcast. If you want a video to garner more engagement, you can also pin it to the top of your brand’s Page so it’s the first post visitors see when they visit.

Facebook Live video by HubSpot with post settings expanded

Now that you know how to broadcast from all devices, let’s dive into how to analyze Facebook Live videos.

How to Analyze Your Live Video’s Performance

How to Access Video Analytics on a Facebook Business Page

To get started analyzing your Facebook Live broadcasts, head to the “Insights” tab at the top of your brand’s Facebook Page:

Facebook Insights tab.png

Then, head to the “Videos” section of your analytics on the lefthand side of the screen.

facebook insights video.png

From there, scroll down to the “Top Videos” section, and either choose a video from that menu to look into, or tap “Video Library” to look at all of the videos your Page has ever posted.

hubspot top videos insights.png

Now, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty.

The performance analytics available for Facebook Live videos are similar to those of normal videos on Facebook, with some neat additions.

  • For Pre-recorded videos: Facebook lets you analyze minutes viewed, unique viewers, video views, 10-second views, average % completion, and a breakdown of reactions, comments, and shares.
  • For Facebook Live videos: Facebook lets you analyze all the metrics listed above, plus peak live viewers, total views, average watch time, people reached, and the demographics of who watched your video.

Facebook Live video with analytics sidebar on righthand side

In addition to all of these static numbers, you can click into each metric to see how it changed over time when the video was live. For example, if we click into “Peak Live Viewers,” we’ll see this interactive graph of video viewers over time:

Line graph of Viewers During Live Broadcast next to Facebook Live video

You can even see who your typical viewer was during your broadcast, based on their Facebook profile information:

fblive_demographics.png

Now that you’ve got the steps down, let’s get into some tips and tricks.

There are a lot of little things you can do to squeeze the most out of your Facebook Live videos. Below is an example of one of the earliest Facebook Live videos from Refinery29. This was the first video of a five-part live video series called “Chasing Daylight,” showcasing a typical night out for women in five different cities around the world. My colleague, HubSpot Marketing Manager Lindsay Kolowich, tracked this one down, and we refer to it in some of the tips below.

Warning: There is some language in the following video that is not safe for work (NSFW).

1. Test out live video using the “Only me” privacy setting.

If you want to play around with live broadcasting without actually sharing it with anyone else, you can change the privacy setting so you’re the only one who can see it — just like with any other Facebook post.

To switch the privacy setting to “Only Me,” follow steps 1–4 in the instructions above.

Privacy settings in Facebook Live with "Friends" selected

2. Space out live videos with other Facebook posts.

Because Facebook ranks Live videos higher than other videos and other types of posts, we recommend spacing out your Facebook Live videos with other Facebook content you post to maximize your organic reach.

3. Keep reintroducing yourself.

When you first start the video, take a minute to introduce yourself and what the video’s about. But keep in mind that when you first start live streaming, you may have zero people watching. Even a few seconds in, you could only have a handful of viewers. As people find your video on their News Feeds, they’ll join in — but that means you’ll want to reintroduce yourself a second, third, and even a fourth time to catch people up.

For example, in the Refinery29 video above, the host Lucie Fink introduces herself three times in the first few minutes, and several more times after that.

One second in:

“Hello, Facebook Live! Hey! Lucie Fink here. I don’t know if we have anyone on the broadcast yet, so I’m going to wait about one minute to see who joins us.”

One minute in:

“Hello to the 309 viewers in here right now. I’m Lucie Fink from Refinery29. Just to recap what’s happening right now, this is Episode One of Refinery29’s new global initiative, ‘Chasing Daylight.'”

A few minutes in:

“Just to give a quick recap on who I am, in case you guys don’t know — I’m Lucie Fink. I work at Refinery 29. Today, I’m doing this whole new series, and this is essentially giving you guys a glimpse into the lives of women all over the world.”

15 minutes in:

“So now that we have 3.5 thousand people in this broadcast, let me just start from the top because some of you might not know what is happening. I’m Lucie Fink from Refinery29, and you might know me from some videos, you might not. Either way, it is nice to meet you. Today, we are starting a new video series on Refinery’s Facebook Live platform. It’s called ‘Chasing Daylight,’ and it’s gonna be on every night this week.”

25 minutes in:

“That’s what I think is so cool about ‘Chasing Daylight.’ For the people who are new and don’t really get why I’m sitting on my toilet, the answer is, I am Lucie Fink, and [this is] Episode One, the New York version of ‘Chasing Daylight,’ which is Refinery29’s new live Facebook series that’s starting right now.”

4. Make the video visually engaging.

You have to be visually engaging — not just at the very beginning of your broadcast (although that’ll be important for when folks view the video later), but throughout the video as more and more people join in.

The more visually engaging you can be, the more you can entice people to stick around. That means keeping the camera moving and not just sitting in one place — something Lucie did really well in that Refinery29 video.

Not only will you get more viewers this way, but you’ll also get your broadcast ranked higher in other people’s News Feeds. Facebook started monitoring signals of video engagement — like turning on the audio, switching to full-screen mode, or enabling high definition — interpreting that as users enjoying the video. As a result, they’ve tweaked the algorithm so videos that are engaged with in these ways will appear higher up on the feed.

5. Make it spontaneous.

What makes a live video special? The spontaneous, interactive nature of it. People love the ability to interact, and they love the novelty of viewing someone in a live moment when anything could happen. In many ways, it’s the new reality TV.

A big part of what makes Refinery29’s live video so great is how much Lucie and her friends embrace the “live,” spontaneous nature of it. For example, at one point, Lucie calls on her friends to reenact a scene from the Broadway show Hamilton. It was scrappy, unrehearsed, and really funny. Her other friends were laughing at her. It reminded me of a fun night with my own friends. “This is literally what we do at the office,” Lucie said about the performance through laughs.

These moments are what make live video special, and they’re exactly what differentiates it from scripted, edited, or otherwise pre-recorded videos. Embrace the platform. Banter is always, always good.

6. Don’t worry about mistakes or stutters.

Spontaneity works — even if your Facebook Live doesn’t go according to plan.

Let’s face it, we’re all human. And when humans and technology mix, there can sometimes be technical difficulties.

If you’re recording a live video, things might go wrong — your equipment could malfunction, you could lose your train of thought, or you could get photobombed by a random passerby. You can’t call “cut” if things happen — you have to roll with them and keep filming and talking.

The good news? These things help keep your broadcast human and real. If you wobble your phone while filming, laugh and call it out. If you forget what you were saying, make a joke. The key is to keep the broadcast like a fun conversation, so if mistakes happen, keep it light and keep the lines of communication open with your viewers.

For example, if you make a mistake during your Facebook Live, ask viewers to write in the comments if they’ve made the same mistake, too.

7. Encourage viewers to Like and share the video.

One of the primary ways Facebook’s algorithm ranks a post is by how many people Like and share it. The more people who Like and share your live broadcast, the more it’ll show up in people’s News Feeds.

But when people are watching a video, they may be more distracted from Liking and sharing it than they would a text or photo post. (That’s something the folks at Facebook noticed about video content early on, which is why they began monitoring other video engagement signals as well, like turning on the volume.)

In Refinery29’s video, you’ll notice Lucie explicitly asks viewers to Like and share the video many times throughout. Here are a few examples:

  • “If you like this broadcast and share it right now, you guys will be part of this brand new series that’s starting right now on Refinery29.”
  • “If you guys share this broadcast, you’ll be part of history. And what’s better than being part of history?”
  • “Thumbs up if you like Hamilton.”
  • “Thank you guys for all these Likes. My screen is absurdly blue right now because I’m getting tons of thumbs up.”
  • “Share this with your best girlfriend who you think is strong and powerful.”

I like the last example the best because she’s asking viewers to share it with a specific type of person — in this case, a best girlfriend. This might prompt viewers to think, “Hey, she’s right, my friend Stacy might like this” and then share it with that specific friend.

8. Engage with commenters, and mention them by name.

The number of comments on your broadcast is another way to get Facebook to give it a higher relevancy score, making it more likely to show up on people’s News Feeds. So encourage your viewers to comment, and engage with people who are commenting by answering their questions and calling them out by name. Not only will it get more people to comment, but it’s also a fun way to include your viewers in the live experience, which could make them stick around longer.

Plus, your audience will be thrilled to hear you mention their name and answer their questions when you are live.

In the Refinery29 video, Lucie was constantly engaging with viewers and commenters. At one point, for example, she said, “We’re so excited to see you guys! Do you have any questions for someone who lives in New York City?” Then, she read a few of the comments that came in and responded to them — using commenters’ first names.

We do this here at HubSpot with our Facebook Live broadcasts, too. Check out all the chatter in the comments — we used those questions to keep our discussion going.

9. Have someone else watching and responding to comments from a desktop computer.

When you’re the one holding the camera for a Facebook Live video, it’s really hard to see the comments popping up on the mobile screen. If the comments are coming in fast, it’s especially easy to lose sight of them as they disappear below the fold. Plus, you’re probably occupied by recording and entertaining viewers.

Because of this, it’s always a good idea to have an additional person logged into the primary account to monitor the comments on a desktop computer. That way, they can take care of responding so the person recording the video can concentrate on creating a great experience.

10. Subtitle your broadcast in the comments section.

Your viewers may be tuning in and out to watch your video during the work day, or they might simply be watching your video without sound. Either way, periodically subtitling the video in the comments section is a great way to keep people engaged. This also allows people who are tuning in late to catch up on what’s going on.

Take some inspiration from Refinery29 — it captioned the video with some of the most snackable one-liners and quotes from the broadcast in the comments section:

Comments thread under Facebook Live video by Refinery29

11. Ask viewers to subscribe to Facebook Live notifications.

In addition to asking for Likes, shares, and comments, ask viewers to subscribe to live notifications. To do that, all viewers have to do is click the small, downward-facing arrow in the top-righthand corner of the live video post, and choose “Turn On Notifications.”

You can also ask them to Like your brand on Facebook, which will make it more likely that they’ll be notified of your next live broadcast. Lucie does this in the Refinery29 video.

12. Broadcast for at least 10 minutes.

As soon as you begin recording your live video, you’ll start slowly but surely showing up in people’s News Feeds. The longer you broadcast — especially as Likes, comments, and shares start coming in — the more likely people are to discover your video and share it with their friends.

Because timing is such an important factor for engagement in these live videos, we recommend that you go live for at least 10 minutes, although you can stay live for up to 90 minutes for a given video.

13. Say goodbye before ending your video.

Before you end your live broadcast, be sure to finish with a closing line, like “Thanks for watching” or “I’ll be going live again soon.”

Lucie from Refinery29 checked a few other engagement requests off the list at the end of her broadcast:

“So, we are about to sign off. It’s been such an amazing first episode of ‘Chasing Daylight.’ . . . Don’t forget to share this to your friends right now so you can always find this series and go back to it. . . . We’re so happy that you tuned into our episode in New York. . . . Goodnight from New York City!”

14. Add a link to the description later.

Once you’ve finished the live broadcast, you can always go back and edit the description, change the privacy settings, or delete the video, just like you would any other post.

Here’s where you can add a trackable link to the description in the post, which can direct future viewers to your live video series page, the site of whatever campaign you’re using the video to promote, or somewhere else.

To edit the description of a video: Find the video on your Timeline or Page and click the downward-facing arrow in the top-righthand corner of the post. Choose “Edit Post” from the dropdown menu, and edit the description accordingly.

fb live edit post-1.png

We hope this has been a helpful guide. We’ll keep you posted with any new developments and tips for connecting with your audience in more cool ways.

Facebook Live Guide

The Leader’s Guide to Effective Change Management

The only constant in life is change.

[Enter any tried-and-true marketing tactic] is dead.

Winter is coming.

We’re reminded daily about how change is coming, and to succeed in business, we must remain agile. Sure, that all makes sense in theory, but in practical application, to change how we operate or serve customers is no small feat.

According to Mckinsey, 70% of change programs fail to achieve their goals, largely due to employee resistance and lack of management support.

Yikes.

This doesn’t mean employees are wrong — they simply lack understanding and buy-in.

As a leader, it’s your responsibility to guide your team through the end result and help establish this comfort and buy-in.

The good news is there are tons of change management methodologies that you can adopt and adapt to your business.

At IMPACT, we’ve gone through quite a bit of change recently. We’ve almost tripled in size in just over a year, and what was once a small core team, is now a fairly good sized-agency that requires a much different approach to implementing change than the good ol’ days (a.k.a. last year).

After struggling to implement a change to our client onboarding process, we decided to take a step back and re-evaluate our approach to change management.

Below I’ll share with you the key change management models and tools we reviewed, and how you can avoid becoming another statistic.

Yes, there are tools and models, which I will get to below, but at the core of any strong change management program is your people.

No model will work if you continue to let employee resistance and lack of management support sabotage your efforts.

4 Common Change Management Models

No need to dust off your old college business school books. Here are the top 4 change management models most commonly referred to when researching the “how” behind change management.

1. Kurt Lewin’s Unfreeze-Change-Refreeze Model

Picture an ice cube. The Kurt Lewin’s Unfreeze-Change-Refreeze model is exactly what it sounds like:

  1. Unfreeze
  2. Change
  3. Re-freeze

This sounds like the most simplistic model on the surface, but there’s a lot to unpack.

In the unfreeze stage, you are essentially breaking down the current way of doing business and noting what needs to change. It’s crucial in this stage to obtain two-way feedback of what needs to change (vs. solely top-down).

After noting and communicating the need for change, gather the key stakeholders necessary to proactively implement what needs to be done.

Once everyone has bought in, “re-freeze” in the sense that the change is institutionalized and consistently used in the new manner.

In our experience, this model focuses more on process than people. If you have a smaller team with less emotion to manage, this could be a good option.

2. The ADKAR® Model of Change

The ADKAR® model breaks down the human side of managing change.

The idea is you should work through each letter of the acronym, focusing heavily on the individuals within your company.

Awareness. Here, the goal is to learn the business reasons for change. At the end of this stage, everyone should be bought-in.

Desire. This is dedicated to getting everyone engaged and willingly participating in the change. Once you have full buy-in, the next stage is measuring if the individuals in your company want to help and become part of the process.

Knowledge. In this stage, you’re working towards understanding how to change. This can come in the form of formal training or simple one-on-one coaching so those affected by the change feel prepared to handle it.

Ability. Next, you must focus on how to implement the change at the required performance level. Knowing the required job skills is only the beginning; The people involved need to be supported in the early stages to ensure they are able to incorporate change.

Reinforcement. Lastly, you need to sustain the change. This final step is often the most missed.An organization needs to continually reinforce change to avoid employees from reverting back to the old way of doing things.

Unlike Lewin’s model, this focuses on people-side of stage. We like its idea of using reinforcement to make your changes stick and this model takes it a step further. It’s a good approach to consider if you have a larger team or more complex problem you’re trying to solve.

3. Kotter’s 8-Step Model of Change

In is 1995 book, Leading Change, Harvard Business School professor, John Kotter, lays out 8 stages all companies must go through in order to see effective change management.

  1. Create urgency through open dialogue that leads others in the organization to want the change as much as you.
  2. Form a powerful coalition of change agents in your organization. This can go beyond leadership and manager.
  3. Create a vision for change to reinforce the why behind it and the strategy to achieve the end result.
  4. Communicate the vision regularly to ease team anxiety and reinforce the why.
  5. Remove obstacles to pave the way for the needed changes to happen.
  6. Create short-term wins to keep up morale and show the team you’re moving in the right direction.
  7. Build on the change by analyzing what went well and didn’t go so well in your quick wins to keep pushing to the desired end result.
  8. Anchor the changes in corporate culture as standard operating procedure and reinforce why change is necessary and embracing it is part of your company culture.

If you have a more agile team, this model’s iterative short-term wins and building based on what you learn as you go, sync nicely with the agile methodology.

4. Kim Scott’s GSD Model

Okay so maybe this one isn’t as common yet, but it soon will be, so you might as well get ahead of the curve!

Kim Scott outlines the GSD model (get stuff done) in her bestselling book, Radical Candor, which is a process of the following steps:

  1. Listen: Listen to the ideas of your team and create a culture where they listen to each other.
  2. Clarify: Make sure these ideas aren’t crushed before everyone has a chance to understand their potential usefulness.
  3. Debate: Create an environment where it’s okay to debate and make the ideas even better.
  4. Decide: Select the idea that will best solve the issue.
  5. Persuade: Since not everyone was involved in the listen-clarify-debate-decide stages, you have to effectively communicate why it was decided and why it’s a good idea.
  6. Execute: Implement the idea.
  7. Learn: Learn from the results, whether or not you did the right thing, and start the whole process over again.

We included this in our mix at IMPACT because of how much it focuses on obtaining ideas from the frontline. People buy into what they help create and Kim Scott’s GSD model provides a framework to make that happen.

Now, there are many more models for you to choose from than just these four, but realize there may not be just one model that fits your organization best.

If you’re anything like us at IMPACT, you may want to take a page from several of these models to improve your communication and effectiveness in times of change.

A Change Management Plan in Action

Below is a real example of how my team approached a major change and the change management steps we took to ensure everyone was on the same page and moving in the same direction.

Step 1: Determine What Needs to Change and Craft the Message

In the course of 3 months, IMPACT completely restructured the agency-side of our organization. In March, our agency team looked like this:

image4-7

This structure worked for us in 2017, but as we came into the new year with an even larger team, our quarterly team survey results told us a different story.

For the first time in several years, not everyone could see their future at IMPACT.

Some had no idea what was going on or why certain decisions had been made. And what stung the most is we had a few happiness scores below seven, which we haven’t had since 2015.

Ouch.

In our February leadership team meeting, we debated for hours why some in the company were feeling this way.

After several ideas, we all determined one area we should focus on was our structure. We were setting our managers up for failure with competing responsibilities and in doing so, we made it extremely difficult for them to effectively communicate with their teams, coach them in their careers, and ensure they could see their future at IMPACT.

The ones who did better in this area suffered in others, like client results and retention.

It was a huge issue that needed to be solved immediately.

This leadership team meeting was the beginning of step 1 in our change management plan:

Determine what needs to change and craft the message.

In our monthly all-hands meeting following that leadership team meeting, our CEO, Bob Ruffolo, explained the why behind our decision that we needed to make a structure change — the what.

He explained the survey results, our thought process, and everything that led to the conversation.

Then, he explained that we had outgrown our current structure, placing too much responsibility on our current managers. We inadvertently set up our teams to fail and that wasn’t ok. — the message.

In order to improve this situation, we needed to create a structure that scales.

Planting the seed for a change is seriously just the first step. After this meeting, we knew there would be fear and confusion, so we got to work on step 2.

Step 2: Identify Your Stakeholders and How to Manage Them

We knew that a complete structure change would not go well if it was strictly a top-down initiative. We needed help and a core coalition to get it off the ground.

However, not every single person would need to know every single detail of what was going on.

While all teams were involved, most were focused with how they would personally be affected in a day-to-day sense, as well as in relation to how they work with other teams.

To keep communication clear, and to ensure everyone had a voice and a chance to enact Kim Scott’s debate stage, we needed to identify stakeholders across the agency team.

In this case, our stakeholders were the managers of our teams. We were essentially changing their job responsibility, so it was prudent to include them in the conversation.

Although we created a committee of stakeholders, what we failed to do was take our communication a step further by managing the other agency team members more closely.

The matrix below outlines a way to segment your team and your communication with each segment so you can better communicate across the board.

We only had our managers involved, and we updated the rest of the team all at once in our monthly all-hands. Next time, we will definitely create a strong communication plan based on this matrix.

Stakeholder Power-Interest Grid Diagram

Image from Mindtools, which adapted from Mendelow, A.L. (1981). Environmental Scanning – The Impact of the Stakeholder Concept,’ ICIS 1981 Proceedings, 20.

Once we identified our key stakeholders, we met with each one and some of their teams to get their feedback, pushback, concerns, and ideas about the structure change.

In full transparency, not all these meetings were fun. There was high emotion and rigorous debate, but, at this point, we had not zeroed in on our exact plan, and they helped us understand the team’s concerns and ideate on the best way to structure for scale — together.

Step 3: Systematically Communicate

This is an area we got wrong in this scenario.

In step one, we announced at a company meeting a pretty earth-shattering idea. Our managers felt blindsided and not all the team members were convinced a structure change was needed.

We learned the hard way that surprising people in a company meeting was not the way to go.

Our intention was to be transparent about what was discussed in our leadership team meeting, but there was definitely a better way to do that had we been more systematic in how we communicated to the team.

After identifying key stakeholders, this is the path we are focusing on now:

CEO/Leadership team (if it’s a leadership decision) > communicates to the next level management > who then communicate to the frontline managers and key stakeholders >who then communicate to the the rest of the team.

Managers can communicate to their own teams in a style that they know will resonate and create shared understanding. They can also help identify issues and concerns so we can all co-create a solution.

This eliminates group-think and reduces the timeline to extinguish fear.

Although our path was a little messier here, once we received all team feedback, we all agreed to what our new agency structure should be:

Then we moved onto Step 4.

Step 4: Get Organized With Incremental Steps

At this stage, everyone knew a change was coming, but no one knew how we were going to make it happen.

This was the time to get organized and get buy-in on the “how” of change management.

Now that we knew what our new structure would be, we developed a project plan with the incremental steps to get us there by the end of the quarter.

We created a video explaining the structure and project plan for all teams to review in their weekly meeting.

Our managers and key stakeholders were involved and accountable for different parts of the plan, and in our all-hands meetings, we updated on the progress of the plan so everyone could stay informed.

In our plan, we also mapped out some “quick wins” in the first month so the team could feel major progress was happening.

In our case, this was selecting new team managers for those teams whose Principal Strategist moved over to the Strategy team.

We interviewed internally and selected our new managers within 3 weeks of rolling out our initiative, which was exciting for our new managers and exciting for the team to see we’re already making huge steps.

Step 5: Equip Your Managers to Handle Emotional Response to Change

It’s one thing to have great communication and a solid-looking plan — but change is hard.

Everyone responds in their own way, but what we didn’t think about was this concept of The Change Curve. Ok, let’s be honest — we didn’t even know this existed.

image2-1

Image from Insights.com, Kubler Ross The Change Curve

After our initial all-hands meeting, we had people all over the Curve. We then in essence said, “Managers, figure it out!”

As we went through the process, we learned another lesson the hard way: We needed to adapt our communication and management style for each individual based on where they were in responding to change.

The graphic below by Expert Program Management shows how you change your response along The Change Curve to gain buy-in sooner and give better coaching to your managers.

image1-26

By meeting team members where they are at, our managers could adapt their communication style to coach each team member through the process, allowing for more personalized, effective transition.

Note: This doesn’t have to be advice just for managers. Our teams operate in scrum, and in their team retrospectives, a shared understanding of this tool could have facilitated more understanding and stronger conversations and problem solving within the team.

Step 6: Manage by OKRs

In order to stay focused throughout the quarter, we created an objective and corresponding key results (OKRs) for our structure change.

The objective was essentially “make the structure change happen” and we measured by tracking the milestones from our project plan.

Each all-hands, we would update the team on how we were doing on our objective and show the percentage complete so they could see visible progress. (We use 7Geese as a way to continually check in and measure our key results.)

This was also a time for those working directly on the project plan to celebrate and give themselves a pat on the back. There was a ton of work involved, and they deserved to be recognized for crushing it.

By breaking down exactly what needed to happen, we were able to keep the team focused and motivated to reach our goal.

Step 7: Continue to Communicate like Crazy

As I mentioned in step 1, discussing the idea is seriously only the first step. To keep everyone motivated, organized, and informed, we had to communicate like crazy.

There three types of communication we focused on: motivational, informational, and two-way.

Our motivational communication often came from our CEO to continually reinforce the why behind this major change.

Informational communication came from updates on our OKRs in our all-hands meetings, as well as one-off videos from the team working on the project plan to update on progress.

The most important one that we focus on the most now, however, is two-way communication. We started off slow in this area, but after getting feedback in our Q2 team survey and from individuals on the team, we doubled down on this much more in the last month of the transition.

By ensuring you have a regular cadence of two-way communication, you ensure the team understands what’s being shared, but you also learn and address if there’s underlying dissent or miscommunication.

Although I put this as the last step, this is the most crucial.

Communication must happen throughout your entire initiative or you’ll risk falling short and potentially damaging company morale in the process.

If you focus on the 3 types of communication above, you will reach your goals faster with a happier team to boot.

Change is Cyclical

The reason I included Kim Scott’s GSD model is it most relates to our company culture. We are always looking for ways to improve, which means we have a lot of change going on all the time.

There is rarely a beginning and a clear-cut end like the more traditional models. I’m sure we’ll discover more tweaks we need to get our structure right, and that’s okay.

The point is change really is constant, and developing a model that works for your business is the best way you can manage the people-side of change and set everyone up for success.

As a leader, you can choose a model, or a mix of models like what we do at IMPACT, to help organize effective, lasting change in your organization.

By incorporating your team via the communication methods outlined above, you can empower and enable your team to take action — and have pride in the change they helped make.

Change isn’t easy and it isn’t going anywhere, but when you can figure out a model that works best for your company, you and your team have no limits. 

How to Use LinkedIn Elevate to Manage an Employee Advocacy Program

social media how toWant your employees to share curated on-brand content with their own social audiences? Wondering how to measure the impact of those shares across multiple social media platforms?

In this article, you’ll learn how to use LinkedIn Elevate to manage and measure the impact of an employee advocacy campaign for your business.

How to Use LinkedIn Elevate to Manage an Employee Advocacy Program by Karlyn Williams on Social Media Examiner.
How to Use LinkedIn Elevate to Manage an Employee Advocacy Program by Karlyn Williams on Social Media Examiner.

What Are the Benefits of Employee Advocacy for Your Business?

Employee advocacy is when you engage your employees to be ambassadors to grow your company’s reach, generate more prospects, and convert them into paying clients without spending excess advertising dollars.

Let’s look at a few reasons why employee advocacy works, according to LinkedIn:

  • Content shared by employees has double the engagement than when shared by a company. People want to interact with other people, not a faceless brand. So let employees be that face (if they want to be). Let them share in and contribute to the online voice of the brand.
  • Salespeople who regularly share content are 45% more likely to exceed quota. They’re the employees who are building the initial rapport with prospects. They’re the ones who want to be the experts in their fields so they can showcase their knowledge and position themselves for the sale. Assisting them in sharing safe and on-brand content would be a smart idea, right?

By positioning employees as advocates, you’re also giving them the freedom to create a personal brand. A personal brand is when you, as an individual, actively market yourself as an expert in your industry or chosen field. In today’s digital age, personal brands are becoming the vehicle by which larger brands are being seen.

National Geographic is one of the most authentic brands when it comes to employee transparency. The photographers who snap the amazing photos run their main Instagram. This means their employees out in the field are creating the content and the copy that goes with it. Here, Christina Mittermeier shares one of her photos for National Geographic and links to the magazine’s Instagram:

example of social media post shared by employee/advocate

Employee advocacy is the employee equivalent to influencer marketing. It’s a win for your employees because they get to show their expertise online and it’s a win for your company because you get more exposure to different audiences.

How to Manage Your Program

Many companies haven’t adopted a social media employee advocacy program for a few reasons:

  • They don’t understand the tools that will be used to implement the plan.
  • They don’t trust their employees to be their frontmen and -women.
  • They’re scared of what employees might say about their company online that could damage their reputation. (Hint: Employees are already talking about you, so don’t you want to give them something relevant to say?)
  • They can’t get their employees engaged.
  • They don’t have someone to run the program to ensure its success.

LinkedIn Elevate Trending in Industry list

What can assist with some of these objections, and make the plan simple and effective to implement is having a tool that manages it all for you. Enter LinkedIn Elevate.

To give you a jump start, this tool will quickly identify your most active employees on the platform. These employees are the ones you want to get on board first and maybe even have them take ownership of some of the program’s implementation. Elevate also will suggest trending content based on relevant topics you’ve selected, and help ensure you engage key employee audiences and customers.

Just like anything that makes marketers’ lives easier, there’s a price tag involved. It varies based on the size of your business and number of participants; you’ll have to contact LinkedIn directly to get a price breakdown. Now let’s look at how to set up an employee advocacy program with LinkedIn Elevate.

#1: Plan Your Employee Advocacy Program

Crafting a plan for your employee advocacy program gives you clarity before making the case to leadership. Ask yourself, “What’s the main objective for our program?” Here are a few to consider:

  • Drive traffic to your website.
  • Attract top talent.
  • Amplify your brand story to new audiences.
  • Further position your leadership insights.
  • Develop relationships among employees and customers.

The list could go on, but narrow it down to one or two main objectives. It’s important to note you should choose objectives that relate to your business’s primary audience.

Also decide what types of content you want to make your employees aware of to share with you and other employees (yes, it’s a two-way street):

  • Curated content (sources outside your company website)
  • Company-only content (sources like your blog, press releases, recent company news)

Whatever content mix you decide, it’s important that there’s consistency with relevant categories/topics.

Set Up a Simple Employee Advocacy Program

If you don’t want to use a tool like Elevate to manage your advocacy program, you can simply create a daily or weekly email to send to your top social media employee influencers. This email can include content that’s curated or owned (from your company’s blog/website).

To make it quick to consume, include the headlines, short descriptions, and the native link to the complete article. Also include share buttons linking to appropriate social channels. Adding these share buttons makes it easy for your influencers to share and you can pre-fill copy for the articles if you want.

#2: Use LinkedIn Elevate to Push Approved Content to Employee Advocates

Now that you’ve developed your plan, you’re ready to set up your LinkedIn Elevate account. Once it’s up and running, click Sources in the top navigation bar to pull up the pre-populated content from Elevate based on the Trending in Industry list in the left column.

LinkedIn Elevate dashboard interface

Click the Broadcast button to the right of any articles you want to share. Employees will see content you (or your admin) have published and/or scheduled on the main Elevate dashboard. Each piece of content is labeled with the appropriate topic, helping employees select content that most interests them.

LinkedIn Elevate top recommendation with Broadcast button

Employees can also recommend content to you to be broadcast on the company’s Elevate feed. You may want to set your own parameters for what fits within the content topics that are relevant for your company and industry.

To see what employee participants want to share, toggle over to Employee Suggestions. You have the option to broadcast right from this window.

employee suggestions in LinkedIn Elevate

#3: Use LinkedIn Elevate to Measure the Impact of Employee Advocacy Across Platforms

LinkedIn Elevate offers metrics to highlight employees’ shares and how they’re driving key business metrics. That’s why you want to have your goals written down before implementing the program so you can properly measure success.

Some key analytics collected through Elevate include:

  • Trends (number of broadcasts, shares, total reach, and engagement)
  • Reach, engagement, and earned media value (Elevate integrates with Facebook and Twitter, so it captures the data from each platform)
  • Audiences engaged (based on industries, professionals, and companies)
  • Employee share rates (by topics)
  • Top sharers (participants in Elevate who are sharing the most content)
  • Top broadcasts (the pieces of content that performed the best)

Explore the LinkedIn Elevate Dashboard

To access your analytics data, click on Analytics from the top navigation. You will see a dashboard with a snapshot of trends.

LinkedIn Elevate analytics trends, reach, engagement, earned media value

Scroll down to view reach and engagement data, earned media down to the cent, the most engaging topics, and the top employees sharing and suggesting content.

LinkedIn Elevate analytics audiences engaged, employee share rate, top sharers

Examine the Leaderboard

To dig deeper into these metrics, toggle over to the Leaderboard tab. On the leaderboard, view which employees are your best ambassadors based on how much they share. You can also see what topics interest them most so you can continue to provide topic-rich content for them to share. This measurement will be useful if you put together a rewards system for the top sharers of the month.

LinkedIn Elevate Leaderboard filters

Also notice the drop-down menus on the right that allow you to filter the data further. You can select the type of analytics category, the timeframe, and topics.

Get Broadcast Insights

Next up is the Broadcasts tab. This data is similar to the Posts Insights that many of us are familiar with on Facebook. From the drop-down menus at the top, select the topics for which you want to see metrics, the curators who shared those broadcasts, and the groups most active when broadcasting.

LinkedIn Elevate Broadcasts tab filters

Groups are how you segment employees within your Elevate community. Are they part of the sales team, marketing team, or C-suite? And as always, you can change the timeframe for a different look at the data presented.

View Stats for a Specific Share

Of course, you can always take a deeper dive into specific posts. Click on a headline to open a new window where you can see the trends of the broadcast and the reach, engagement, and earned media.

LinkedIn Elevate metrics for broadcast

You can also view the top sharers of the content and where they shared it.

LinkedIn Elevate metrics for broadcast

Run a Report

The last feature I want to point out within the metrics is the Reports function. My business primarily uses it for downloading “seats” reports, which means it runs the numbers of all employee groups and pulls out the top sharers, and lets us check in on how many employees exist within each segmented group.

To run a report, toggle over to the Reports tab. From the drop-down menu, select the type of report you’d like to run.

types of LinkedIn Elevate reports

It takes a few minutes to run a report. Once the data is scraped, you’ll see the option to download the report from the page. All reports are in Excel format.

Download links for LinkedIn Elevate reports

Sometimes it’s nice to have monthly reports outside of the platform to give you a broader overview of where your employees are with their engagement with the platform. This analytics data is essentially for social proof, and to see how many of your employees are engaging with your online advocacy program and how many aren’t.

Other Tools Similar to LinkedIn Elevate

Although I haven’t yet had the opportunity to use the following tools, here are my takeaways from walking through demos with a representative:

  • Hootsuite Amplify: Many social media managers and employees who create content for companies are familiar with Hootsuite. What you may not know, though, is that the Enterprise version (pricing varies by organization) offers an employee advocacy feature. A positive for some businesses is the adaptability because you don’t have to open another tool or learn another system.
  • GaggleAMP: This tool caters to the medium-sized business crowd. Pricing is based on the size of your company and your needs. If you have 10 employees or fewer, you can get started for $200/month, which includes onboarding and support.
  • EveryoneSocial: This is a more robust yet user-friendly tool. This platform is geared toward businesses with 200+ employees. Plans start at $1,500/month.

Conclusion

I love it when organizations use a tool in a creative way that benefits their audiences but doesn’t align with how the tool was originally meant to be used. For example, organizations like American Public University System, an online university, are leveraging LinkedIn Elevate to engage not only staff in the main office but also faculty and alumni—a fun and relevant influencer program.

“Organizations should think of advocacy programs as more than an employee-only focus. As a higher education institution, we have an incredible community of faculty, students, and alumni with expertise in so many fields with wide-reaching networks,” said Madeline Kronfeld, Marketing Director, American Public University System.

She went on to say, “By extending our advocacy program beyond staff, we’ve been able to reach people in industries from intel to health sciences and share relevant information from our own subject matter experts.”

Just like any type of social media, blog, or video episodic program, you have to stay consistent with cadence and relevance of content for employees to begin to adopt it and stick with it. In addition, you need either a dedicated staff member to run the social employee advocacy program or recruit a small team internally to kick off the program and decide later, based on social proof, if it’s worth bringing on a dedicated employee to run the initiative.

All in all, your employees can and should be your company’s greatest asset. The question is: Are you leveraging them as willing participants to become the driving force behind organically building your social media presence?

What do you think? Do you have an employee advocacy program for your business? Will you consider using Elevate to help manage it? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

More articles about LinkedIn marketing:

The post How to Use LinkedIn Elevate to Manage an Employee Advocacy Program appeared first on Social Media Examiner.

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The 17 Best Photoshop Tutorials & Ideas for Anything You’re Trying to Accomplish

There’s no doubt that Photoshop is an incredibly powerful tool for marketers. Photoshop has thousands of features, tools, settings, and shortcuts that have drastically changed and shaped graphic design and photo editing over the last few decades.

With the sophistication of today’s design capabilities, however, comes the hassle of learning and staying up-to-date on Photoshop’s features.

Whether you’re a Photoshop wiz, a self-taught intermediate designer, or someone just starting out, there will always be more tricks and hacks to learn.

Explore Adobe Photoshop CC basics through quick tips, video explainers, and  custom photo filters here.

Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of 11 video tutorials for Photoshoppers at various levels to speed up your workflow. Some videos are better suited for beginners, while other videos are tailored towards people with more experience. So take a look, find the tutorials that are best suited for you, and use them to learn some helpful new tips and tricks.

17 Useful Photoshop Tutorials That’ll Speed Up Your Workflow

1. Photoshop Basics Tutorial — Adobe

Time: 46 min

Many of you likely recognize the value of Photoshop and other design software skills, but when it comes to self-teaching a new skill like Photoshop, it’s hard to know where to begin. Luckily, this 46-minute tutorial is a great way to get started.

Created by the Adobe Photoshop team, this tutorial feels more like a free webinar class: You have a friendly teacher who shows you the basics of how Photoshop works with Adobe Bridge, and then shows you ten basic techniques to get you going.

Tips in this video include removing blemishes in photos, working with Photoshop’s layers, cropping, editing image colors, removing parts of an image, and more.

2. Photoshop Painting Tutorial — PiXimperfect

Time: 31 min

There’s more than one way to “paint” in Photoshop. Often the prettiest illustrations that brands show off today were created using Photoshop’s many digital paintbrushes. PiXimperfect’s Photoshop tutorial shows you, in detail, how to make a photo actually look like a painting.

For painting in Photoshop, your host in this tutorial recommends using a physical pen or stylus, rather than your computer mouse. A stylus best simulates the physical motions of painting, and helps you maintain hand control as you gradually transform your photo.

Throughout the tutorial, you’re taught how to use the many digital brushes in Photoshop to match the details of the photo you’re starting with. The host also shows you various brush strokes for adding, correcting, and enhancing the image. Watch it in full, below.

3. Design Tools and Workflow Tips — Adobe

Time: 7 min

There’s no better teacher than the maker, right? This second tutorial, hosted on Adobe’s Helpx site, gives quick basic tips for a better workflow. If you’re a self-taught designer, I highly recommend this video for a simple brush up.

The teacher starts out by taking you through quick grids and explaining how to maximize efficiency in your workspace. Then, he gives you helpful tips on placing elements (smart objects, linked files, etc.) and using clipping masks.

The best part of the tutorial is the way it quickly and visually touches on how Photoshop interacts with other Adobe products such as Typekit and Illustrator. The teacher quickly produces a magazine page on the screen by showing you different elements of Illustrator and Photoshop, making it easy to follow and easy to generate design ideas from.

[Watch the video here.]

Photoshop-workflow-video.png

4. Photoshop Text Tutorial — Pixel & Bracket

Time: 3 min

There are lots of ways to incorporate text into a photo or design using Photoshop. And there are just as many fonts and stylings to choose from. The video tutorial below is a high-level overview of how to add text to your Photoshop canvas.

Your host, Spencer, shows you the two basic types of text you can add to a Photoshop canvas: boundless text and a text box. Both types of text give you different levels of freedom to move, rotate, and wrap your text around the other contents of your design.

Watch the brief tutorial, below.

5. Top 10 Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts — Graphics Geeks

Time: 3 min

Part of speeding up your process is simply knowing and using the multitude of keyboard shortcuts available for the Photoshop software.

Luckily, Graphic Geeks put together this handy tutorial featuring their top 10 photo editing shortcuts in action. It covers toggling through layer blending modes, creating inverted masks, using clipping layers, transforming layers, resizing brushes, zooming in and out, previewing soft selections, duplicating layers, fading brush strokes, and sampling colors directly on the canvas.

Want even more tips and tricks? Check out this blog post for a list of 66 Photoshop keyboard shortcuts.

6. Photoshop Coloring Tutorial — PHLEARN

Time: 19 min

Recoloring a drawing or illustration is easy. Adding new color to a live-action photo, on the other hand, is another story. This tutorial shows you how to do it in Photoshop.

Photos have extremely intricate color compositions — they have way more colors than they appear to have at first glance. For this reason, it can be quite difficult to color a photo differently and ensure it looks natural in the end. Aaron Rice of the Photoshop resource, Phlearn, shows you how to use the “Colorizer” tool in Photoshop to isolate and change the color of certain parts of any photo.

The course teaches you how to apply a “layer mask” to your photo so you can reveal all the right details of the photo before “colorizing” it. As a result, you’ll be able to change your subject’s color without sacrificing quality. Watch the tutorial, below.

7. How to Use the Crop Tool — Lynda.com

Time: 5 min

There are plenty of ways to crop images on Photoshop, and if you compare your cropping method to someone else’s, you might realize they do it differently than you do. Part of this is because Photoshop’s crop tools have changed throughout its different versions.

If you want to learn how to use the latest crop tool (as of Adobe CC) — which allows you to hide cropped pixels instead of permanently deleting them — this tutorial walks you through it.

This tutorial serves as part of a series by Lynda.com — an excellent resource for extended Photoshop lessons.

8. Photoshop Background Tutorial — Adobe

Time: 3 min

If you work with visual content long enough, you’ll eventually be in a situation where you want to separate a photo’s foreground subject from its background. The problem is, removing a photo’s background can distort the subject you’re trying to isolate in the process.

The following Photoshop tutorial comes from Adobe itself, and shows you how to add a transparent “skin” to your photo and “paint” the subjects you want to separate from the background. The result? A foreground subject that you can layer onto any new background you wish. Learn how to do it by clicking on the link below.

[Watch the video here.]

photoshop-background-tutorial

9. How to Use the Undo/Redo Tool, Steps, and History — Sterling Teaches

Time: 5 min

If you’ve worked with Photoshop much at all, you’ve probably already realized that the undo/redo features don’t quite work the same way as they do in programs like Word, Illustrator, or InDesign. Instead, Photoshop’s undo/redo feature automatically sets to only undo one step. To go back through multiple steps, you have to use the history panel, and even the history panel is limited in the number of steps it remembers.

Photoshop is capable, however, of going back through older steps — it just doesn’t always seem like it at first. This tutorial walks you through how to use Photoshop’s undo/redo tools, and how to set up your history panel to remember more steps than it does automatically.

10. Double Exposure Photoshop Tutorial — Adobe Creative Cloud

Time: 45 sec

In my opinion, double exposure is one of the coolest visual effects available to you in Photoshop. This effect blends two different photos together so the texture of one image can fit into the shape of another image. And according to the tutorial below, pulling it off is easier than you think.

In the Photoshop tutorial below, Adobe Creative Cloud teaches you how to apply a double exposure using two images by lowering the images’ opacity. Then, you can layer one image on top of the other in a creative way. The result is incredible.

Watch the tutorial, below.

11. How to Use the Rotate View Tool — Creative Bloq

Time: 2 min

Ever been working on an image that you just wish you could flip upside down like you could a sheet of paper? If you didn’t know already, with Photoshop, you can!

This two-minute tool tutorial by Creative Bloq walks you through this simple tool and shows you how to use it practice.

Don’t forget to browse through other videos on Creative Bloq’s “Two-Minute Tool” series to quickly increase your capabilities with tools you may not have used previously! Creative Bloq keeps their tutorial videos clear, quick, and straight to the point so you don’t have to waste time searching for the information you want to know.

12. 3D Photoshop Tutorial — Tutvid

Time: 31 min

You don’t have to work for Disney Pixar to add a third dimension to an otherwise flat photo or design.

The 3D workspace in Photoshop sets you up in a gridded environment where you can add a three-dimensional object — many of which come standard in Photoshop — and create a 3D work of art using that basic object.

Photoshop’s 3D workspace, according to your host Nathaniel from Tutvid, enables you to change your view of your Photoshop canvas so you can examine the sides, top, and bottom of your object and edit it from any angle.

Shapes, letters, and numbers are all available in 3D form using Photoshop. In the video below, however, pay close attention to the system requirements in the introduction. 3D in Photoshop is a beautiful thing, but you can only play in this space if your computer is equipped with the right graphics card.

13. How to Sharpen Images — Kelvin Designs

Time: 16 min

As a photo editing and graphic design tool, it makes sense that Photoshop has hundreds of ways to sharpen, edit, change, and manipulate the look and feel of images. But it also means you may not know the best way to edit an image while maintaining the best quality.

This mid-length tutorial by Kelvin Designs takes you through the basics of sharpening images and why some ways are better than others. Your teacher will also give you tips on maintaining the quality of the images while explaining which tools work better for certain types of images.

As an added bonus, Kelvin Designs linked the source files used in the video for you to download and follow along on your own computer. If you’re more of a hands-on learner, this might be a great tutorial for you.

14. How to Use Step & Repeat Patterns — Phlearn

Time: 15 min

For many graphic designers, creating and using patterns is a fairly frequent task. While there are multiple ways to create patterns — one of which is by hand — Photoshop actually has a simplified trick for making pattern building much easier than measuring, copying, pasting, and repeating over and over again.

In this video, the teacher — Aaron Nace — takes you through the basics of building patterns. Nace has tons of tutorials for Photoshop and Lightroom, so make sure to check them out.

(Pro tip: This video has a pretty long introduction, so skip to 1:37 if you want to cut to the chase.)

15. Photoshop Actions Tutorial — Phlearn

Time: 8 min

Ever wish you could just record a series of steps in Photoshop and apply those steps to a bunch of different files? Like cropping images to a certain size or a building a customer filter to use on lots of images? As it turns out, with Photoshop’s Action tool, you can.

In the second Phlearn tutorial featured in this post, Nace how to batch edit photos using the Action tool. What I love about this tutorial is that he gives you ideas for other ways to use the Action tool even as he uses it primarily to set a custom filter for a group of wedding photos.

16. How to Create a Custom Brush — Larry Lourcey

Time: 5 min

There are numerous times when designers have to place a watermark, logo, or some other standardized feature on images repeatedly throughout their work. While placing the image into the document as a layer works just fine, it’s helpful to have those features already loaded into your workspace.

That’s where creating custom brushes for things like logos and watermarks is a super handy way to speed up your workflow. In this tutorial, Larry Loucey from PhotoEducationOnline.com teaches you how to create custom brushes so you can load logos, watermarks, etc. into your workspace.

Doing this allows you to easily transform and place your logos/watermarks from your brushes panel onto your designs without having to search through your computer files each time.

17. Photoshop Masking Tutorial — Tutvid

Time: 3 min

Layer masks tend to play a big role in many graphic design processes. Essentially, a layer mask allows you to apply something — a color, shape, etc. — to a specific part of an image, rather than the entire thing.

In this speedy tutorial, Tutvid.com dives into not only what masking is, but how to do it quickly. He uses the example of a car to show how a mask can be used to manipulate the car’s color from red to green.

If you haven’t already given masking a try, definitely check out this tutorial.

Marketer's Guide to Photoshop

The What, Where, and How of Video Consumption [New Data]

Since late last week, the topic of online video has worked its way into a few headlines.

First, it was announced that Facebook has launched Lasso: a short-form video app seemingly designed to compete with TikTok, which is a similar app allowing users to upload quick videos that are usually powered by a musical background.

For example:

The same day Lasso’s launch was announced, Giphy — known as a database of short, animated GIF images — announced that it, too, would launch its own short-form video platform. 

But almost as soon as this new battle for the favored short-form video platform began to break out, new information emerged that other platforms are embracing long-form video — and by “long,” we mean upwards of 75 minutes, in some cases.

So we wanted to know: When it comes to online video consumption, where do users really weigh in? How familiar are they with these short-form video platforms, how much time do they really spend watching online video?

We post these questions — and others — to over 6,500 people across the U.S., UK, and Canada to see what we could learn about the what, where, and how of online video consumption. Here’s what we found.

People Are Fairly Unfamiliar With Short-Form Video Platforms

First, we wanted to measure awareness of these short-form video platforms, starting with TikTok.

Have you heard of TikTok_

Over half of respondents — 54.6% — indicated that they are not familiar with TikTok.

Then, we posed the same question about Giphy.

Have you heard of Giphy_

Data collected with Lucid

Here, an even higher percentage of users — 61.3% — indicated that they’re unfamiliar with Giphy.

It poses the question of how well Lasso — whose parent company, Facebook, made no major announcement of its launch and has no dedicated website — will fare in a market that’s becoming more crowded without much awareness.

People Have a Mixed Relationship With Facebook Video

Next, we posed the question: What do you use Facebook for?

What do you use Facebook for_ (1)

Data collected with Lucid

Here, we found that less than a third of respondents — 28.7% — say that their primary use for Facebook is to watch videos.

Instead, most people indicated that they mostly use Facebook for keeping up with friends and family — followed by those who said their primary purpose is getting the news. 

However, when we asked survey respondents — Not including streaming TV and movies, where do you watch online video? — over half of them said they do so on Facebook.

Not including streaming TV and movies, where do you watch online video_ [Platform]

Data collected with Lucid

However, Facebook didn’t quite beat out video hosting platform YouTube, where just over 70% of respondents say they watch online video.

Instead, it took the lead in user posting preferences, with 61.8% of respondents indicating that they prefer to share video on Facebook over other platforms.

Where are you most likely to post video content online_

Data collected with Lucid

Most People Watch Online Video on a Mobile Device

We also wanted to know which devices people were using to consume online video. 

Not including streaming TV and movies, where do you watch online video_ [Device]

Data collected with Lucid

Just over 87% of respondents said that they watch online video on a mobile device, with over half of them indicating they do so via a smartphone.

The high rate of online video consumption via mobile could indicate potential growth for short-form video platforms like TikTok — even though 2.8% of respondents listed it as their primary app for watching (and .3% saying they prefer to share video there). 

Where these apps could possibly see a faster rate of growth is in integrations with apps that are a bit more native mobile users, such as with Messages app extensions on iOS devices.

But, People Say They Aren’t Enamored With Super-Short Videos

When we posed the question — Not including streaming TV and movies, what would you estimate is the longest online video length that could hold your attention? — the results were mixed.

Not including streaming TV and movies, what would you estimate is the longest online video length that could hold your attention_

Data collected with Lucid

The lowest number of respondents — only 7% — said they could only maintain attention for a video that was less than five minutes long.

In fact, the highest percentage indicated the opposite, with over 20% saying that they believe a video over 75 minutes long could hold their attention.

That could explain the popularity of YouTube in earlier questions, where videos that are 20 minutes or longer appear to be gaining in favorability among creators and viewers alike.

At the same time, people seem to downplay the amount of time they spent watching online video each day.

Not including streaming TV and movies, how much time do you spend each day watching video online_ (1)

Data collected with Lucid

Although a decent amount claim that they could sit through a feature-film-length video, most also say they spend less than an hour watching online video each day.

For now, it seems that the trajectory of short-term video is ambiguous at best. Snapchat, for instance — which some call a pioneer in the area of short, ephemeral videos — has actually shown to be shrinking, not growing. 

“Making short, shareable videos designed to appeal to the broadest audience possible has given way to something,” writes Wired‘s Emma Grey Ellis, “not only longer, but more niche.”

That could explain why platforms like Facebook and Instagram are launching platforms dedicated to longer-form videos (Watch and IGTV, respectively) — because, it seems, our preferences could be leaning toward video content that is more enriched and in-depth. 

This potential growing preference should be observed by marketers and those creating video on behalf of their businesses. While it may not be wise to entirely invest in 75-minute videos, it could be worthwhile to ask: What kind of story would my audience like to see and hear with this amount of time?

As always — stay tuned.

Want more data?  Reach out on Twitter to let us know what news and trends you’d like us to ask questions about.

8 of the Best Retail Blogs Every Retailer Should Be Reading

The retail industry evolves fast. Ten years ago, every town’s mall was a bustling hub of commerce, chock full of busy shops and pesky tweens. Nowadays, Cyber Monday generates $1.5 billion more in sales than Black Friday does.

With the explosive growth of online shopping and 2017’s brick-and-mortar retail apocalypse, how can you, a retailer, adapt to the ever-changing preferences of consumers today? One of the first steps to take is staying informed. Retail blogs can keep you updated on the industry’s latest stories and prepare you for the upcoming trends that will transform the industry in 2019 and beyond.

Below, we’ll list the best retail blogs on the internet right now. And, hopefully, they can help you reinvigorate your brick-and-mortar store or help you take advantage of the current boom in eCommerce for your online store.

8 of the Best Retail Blogs Every Retailer Should Be Reading

1. Shopify Plus

Shopify Plus, Shopify’s enterprise software arm, structures their editorial calendar like a season of television, weaving their articles into narrative-driven series and publishing multiple stories about one eCommerce topic over time.

With a trusted team of staff writers and freelancers, they write heavily-researched yet easy-to-understand stories about eCommerce success stories, behavioral economics, buyer psychology, and industry data, helping you understand the industry’s best tactics and why they work.

Each of Shopify Plus’ articles is valuable on its own, but just like episodes from your favorite Netflix show, they can entice you to read the entire series, arming you with the full scope of knowledge about a certain topic.

Recommended Read: How 2 Chainz Used Shopify Plus to Generate 2 Million Dollars in 30 Days

2. National Retail Federation

The National Retail Federation, or NRF, is the largest retail trade association in the United States. For over a century, they’ve advocated for retailers by lobbying congress in support of the industry and providing mentorship and networking opportunities for their members.

To update retailers about the latest news and trends, the NRF publishes blog posts about the economy, connected commerce, consumer trends, holiday and seasonal trends, retail technology, and small businesses.

They also conduct studies and surveys to grasp the current state of the retail industry and publish the insights on their blog. They use their podcast, Retail Gets Real, and their online magazine, Stores, to tell stories about thriving retail brands too.

Recommended Read: Facial recognition is becoming a competitive tool in the fight against fraud

3. The Retail Doctor

Bob Phibbs, the self-proclaimed “Retail Doctor”, is a retail consultant who has helped brands like LEGO, Mastercard, and Paul Mitchell optimize their brick and mortar stores, train their sales team, and boost their in-store sales.

Phibbs’ consulting services are definitely impressive, but his blog might be even more admirable. Feedspot named The Retail Doctor’s blog the best retail blog & website for 2018, and reading it will teach you a broad range of retail topics, spanning from holiday shopping strategies to dealing with bratty kids in your store.

Recommended Read: How Should You Handle Shoppers With Bratty Kids In Tow?

4. Retail Dive

An offshoot of Industry Dive, a digital media company that publishes business news and original analysis for over 3 million executives in 16 industries, Retail Dive analyzes the top retail trends and new stories and publishes extensive articles about them. They mostly cover topics like technology, trends, marketing, eCommerce, payments, mobile, logistics, corporate news, loss prevention, and the holidays.

They also write opinion pieces about retail, conduct their own studies, post industry events, have a job board, and produce their own podcast, Conversational Commerce.

Recommended Read: Why most shoppers still choose brick-and-mortar stores over e-commerce

5. Square

Square, one of the leading credit card readers for small businesses, has millions of customers, and the company’s blog has been influential in their customers’ growth. Covering topics like customer success, data insights, finances, growth strategies, management, and marketing, Square’s blog can also help you run your retail store more effectively.

If you’re a Square customer, you can read their blog to learn about their latest product updates, how other businesses succeed using Square, and best practices for using their products.

Recommended Read: The State of Malls in America

6. Medallion Retail

With over five decades of experience helping retail brands like Starbucks, Converse, and Mark Avion run their in-store marketing, Medallion Retail is a proven thought leader in the retail industry.

Their blog gives retailers an inside look at their coveted expertise, which is in-store experience, signage, and pop-up retail. If you want to learn from an established retail expert, Medallion Retail can be your trusted resource.

Recommended Read: The Original Holiday Pop-Up: What Retailers Can Learn from Spirit Halloween

7. Forrester Retail

Forrester is a market research company that provides reports about how existing and future technologies can potentially impact the business world.

To help retailers leverage technology to adapt to their consumers’ ever-changing preferences, Forrester publishes blog posts about the latest news in retail and predictions of the industry’s direction. They also attach more in-depth research reports to most of their blog posts for readers to download.

Recommended Read: Amazon Is A (Big And Scary) Red Herring

8. Shopify Retail

Originally founded to sell snowboards online, Shopify has transformed into the leading eCommerce platform for retailers, powering over 500,000 businesses who have generated more than $40 billion in sales.

Countless customers use their blog as a guide to run their business, and if you follow it, you can hone your chops in marketing, sales, customer experience, pop-up shops, Black Friday & Cyber Monday strategy, omni-channel retail, and technology.

Recommended Read: How HERO Backpacks Founder Used Her Personal Story to Build a Brand

How to Optimize Your Ad Budget Between Facebook and Instagram

Do you advertise on Instagram and Facebook? Wondering how much to budget for each platform placement? In this article, you’ll learn how to use Facebook’s split test feature to reveal how best to distribute your ad spend on Facebook and Instagram. Is Allocating Ad Spend via Automatic Placement in Your Best Interest? When you advertise […]

The post How to Optimize Your Ad Budget Between Facebook and Instagram appeared first on Social Media Examiner.

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14 Unforgettable Color Palettes to Help You Design Your Own

It’s a well-known fact that colors can influence mood — consider how you feel differently when you enter a bright orange room, versus a muted gray.

But did you know color also plays a major factor on your customer’s first impressions of your brand? People generally make up their minds on how they feel about a product within the first 90 seconds — and about 62-90 percent of their assessment is based on colors alone.

The right colors can engage your audience and showcase your brand’s individuality in a way words cannot. To stand out against your competitors, and to ensure consistency across all your marketing materials, it’s critical you put time and effort into creating an impressive color palette.

A color palette can help you ensure uniformity across your website, promotional materials, social media content, and more. This consistency is key to attracting and retaining a loyal audience across all your platforms and channels.

Now, you might be thinking — great, I’m convinced. But how do I get started? To make it easy for you, we’ve compiled 14 unforgettable color palettes to help you design your own.

Pastel Color Palette

#BAF2BB, #BAF2D8, #F2BAC9, #F4F7F9, #F4F39A

Blue Color Palette

#161925, #23395B, #406E8E, #8EA8C3, #CBF7ED

Green Color Palette

#E3EECD, #ACD1B6, #71A596, #40676E, #408E61

Red Color Palette

#E96166, #C53538, #963543, #FDA696, #FDCDD1

Purple Color Palette

#4A4063, #CCB8D6, #513E43, #783F8E, #49275B

Brown Color Palette

#EFE0B9, #524636, #B7521E, #643B0F, #E4B04A

Gold Color Palette

#E2953D, #524636, #AC7330, #B19A78, #DBC2A4

Pink Color Palette

#870040, #CE4A87, #FF82BF, #F7CFE1, #DBC2A4

Fall Color Palette

#D8C9CB, #96A88E, #A75037, #753740, #DB9C77

Spring Color Palette

#EBDFE7, #CCC2CD, #81A190, #A2C0A0, #DBE8D9

Winter Color Palette

#493319, #907F60, #C7CCD3, #F0F1F2, #9D0200

Autumn Color Palette

#DB9C77, #A75037, #6F3B48, #F3E4DF, #60958B

Summer Color Palette

#F7E06C, #F8CED2, #ED5B46, #8BD0B4, #D8EEE7

Sunset Color Palette

#983275, #811D5E, #FD2F24, #FF6F01, #FED800

Color Palette Generators

To gain further inspiration or create unique color palettes for yourself, you might consider using an online color palette generator. Color palette generators are extraordinarily helpful — they suggest colors that look good together, and even provide the hex color numbers, so you can plug the colors directly into a program like Photoshop.

Before you begin your next design project, you might want to try generating different palettes of your own using one of these free online tools:

The Ultimate Social Media Holiday Calendar for 2019 [Template]

Whether it’s International Cat Day, Pizza Day, or Talk Like a Pirate Day, it seems like almost every day, the internet is celebrating a holiday.

Whenever I log onto Twitter, I quickly scan what’s trending on the lefthand side of the screen.Manage and plan your social media posts with the help of this free calendar  template.

Have you ever had this experience — when you see an obscure holiday or observance day trending, and you think to yourself “Yup, I’m celebrating that”?

Some of these holidays might be simply too silly for your brand to engage with (and we certainly don’t suggest sharing content on social media and then tacking on a completely irrelevant hashtag for the sake of traffic — that’s just plain annoying). But others might not be. You could be missing valuable opportunities to take advantage of trending topics with fun and relevant “holiday” content on social media.

From food to politics to animals and everything in between, there is a plethora of observance days worldwide during which marketers can share content relevant to their industries, get involved in a movement, or simply generate more awareness.

To help you plan for trending holidays, we created a list that you can bookmark, as well as a downloadable calendar so you can get automatic reminders. The list isn’t exhaustive (there are a lot of food-specific holidays out there) and these dates and hashtags may still be subject to change. But this is a great starting point for social media marketers who want to learn more about what’s trending and how they can plan their content in a way that will be fun and engaging on Twitter and other social platforms.

Want to finish out your 2018 calendar with some upcoming holiday posts? Tap the “+” symbol in the lower right-hand corner of the calendar below to add it to your own Gmail calendar.

Downloadable Holiday Calendar

National & Global Holiday Calendar: 2019-2020

January 2019

1. Tuesday, New Year’s Day #NewYearsDay

2. Wednesday, Science Fiction Day #ScienceFictionDay

4. Friday, National Trivia Day #NationalTriviaDay

5. Saturday, National Bird Day #NationalBirdDay

11. Friday, Human Trafficking Awareness Day #HumanTraffickingDay

13. Sunday, National Sticker Day #NationalStickerDay

14. Monday, Clean Off Your Desk Day #CleanOffYourDeskDay

15. Tuesday, National Hat Day #NationalHatDay

17. Thursday, Get to Know Your Customers Day (third Thursday of every quarter) #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay

20. Sunday, Cheese Lovers Day #CheeseLoversDay

21. Monday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day #MLKDay

21. Monday, National Hugging Day #NationalHuggingDay

23. Wednesday, National Pie Day #PieDay

24. Thursday, National Compliment Day #NationalComplimentDay

25. Friday, Opposite Day #OppositeDay

28. Monday, Community Manager Appreciation Day #CMAD

28. Monday, Data Privacy Day #PrivacyAware

February 2019

2. Saturday, Groundhog Day #GroundhogDay

2. Saturday, World Wetlands Day #WorldWetlandsDay

3. Sunday, Super Bowl LIII #SBLIII

4. Monday, World Cancer Day #WorldCancerDay

5. Tuesday, Chinese New Year #YearOfThePig

5. Tuesday, Safer Internet Day #SID2019

5. Tuesday, National Weatherperson’s Day #NationalWeatherpersonsDay

7. Thursday, National Send a Card to a Friend Day #SendACardToAFriendDay

8. Friday, National Boy Scouts Day #BoyScoutsDay

9. Saturday, National Pizza Day #NationalPizzaDay

11. Monday, Inventors Day #InventorsDay

13. Wednesday, World Radio Day #WorldRadioDay

14. Thursday, Valentine’s Day #ValentinesDay

17. Sunday, Random Acts of Kindness Day #RandomActsOfKindnessDay

18. Monday, National Battery Day #NationalBatteryDay

18. Monday, Presidents Day #PresidentsDay

20. Wednesday, World Day of Social Justice #SocialJusticeDay

20. Wednesday, Love Your Pet Day #LoveYourPetDay

21. Thursday, International Mother Language Day #IMLD

March 2019

1. Friday, National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day #PeanutButterLoversDay

1. Friday, National Employee Appreciation Day #EmployeeAppreciationDay

2. Saturday, National Read Across America Day #ReadAcrossAmerica & #DrSeuss

3. Sunday, World Wildlife Day #WorldWildlifeDay

4. Monday, National Grammar Day #NationalGrammarDay

5. Tuesday, National Pancake Day #NationalPancakeDay

5. Tuesday, Mardi Gras #MardiGras

6. Wednesday, National Dentist’s Day #DentistsDay

7. Thursday, National Be Heard Day #NationalBeHeardDay

7. Thursday, National Cereal Day #NationalCerealDay

8. Friday, International Women’s Day #BeBoldForChange

8. Friday, National Proofreading Day #NationalProofreadingDay

8. Friday, National Day of Unplugging #NationalDayOfUnplugging

10. Sunday, National Pack Your Lunch Day #NationalPackYourLunchDay

10. Sunday, National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day #NWGHAAD

10. Sunday, Daylight Savings #DaylightSavings

11. Monday, National Worship of Tools Day #WorshipOfToolsDay

11. Monday, National Napping Day #NationalNappingDay

12: Tuesday, National Girl Scout Day #GirlScoutDay

14. Thursday, Popcorn Lover’s Day #PopcornLoversDay

14. Thursday, Potato Chip Day #NationalPotatoChipDay

14. Thursday, Pi Day #PiDay (To go the extra mile, post this at 1:59, as Pi equals 3.14159…)

15. Friday, World Consumer Rights Day #WCRD2019

15. Friday, World Sleep Day #WorldSleepDay

16. Saturday, National Freedom of Information Day #FreedomOfInformationDay

17. Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day #StPatricksDay

18. Monday, Awkward Moments Day #NationalAwkwardMomentsDay

19. Tuesday, National Let’s Laugh Day #NationalLetsLaughDay

20. Wednesday, International Day of Happiness #InternationalDayofHappiness

20. Wednesday, World Storytelling Day #WorldStorytellingDay

20. Wednesday, First Day of Spring #FirstDayofSpring

21. Thursday, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination #RacialDiscriminationDay

21. Thursday, World Poetry Day #WorldPoetryDay

22: Friday, World Water Day #WorldWaterDay

23. Saturday, National Puppy Day #NationalPuppyDay

25. Monday, Tolkien Reading Day #TolkienReadingDay

26. Tuesday, National Spinach Day #NationalSpinachDay

26. Tuesday, Purple Day #PurpleDay

26. Tuesday, American Diabetes Association Alert Day #AmericanDiabetesAssociationAlertDay

30. Saturday, Doctor’s Day #NationalDoctorsDay

30. Saturday, Earth Hour Day #EarthHour

30. Saturday, National Take a Walk in the Park Day #NationalWalkInTheParkDay

31. Sunday, World Backup Day #WorldBackupDay

31. Sunday, Transgender Day of Visibility #TDOV

April 2019

1. Monday, April Fools Day #AprilFools

2. Tuesday, World Autism Awareness Day #WAAD

3. Wednesday, Find a Rainbow Day #FindARainbowDay

3. Wednesday, National Walking Day #NationalWalkingDay

4. Thursday, Hug a Newsperson Day #HugANewsperson

7. Sunday, World Health Day #LetsTalk

9. Tuesday, Equal Pay Day #EqualPayDay

10. Wednesday, National Siblings Day #NationalSiblingsDay

10. Wednesday, Encourage a Young Writer Day #EncourageAYoungWriterDay

11. Thursday, National Pet Day #NationalPetDay

12. Friday, International Day of Human Space Flight #InternationalDayOfHumanSpaceFlight

15. Monday, National Tax Day #TaxDay

16. Tuesday, National Stress Awareness Day #StressAwarenessDay

16. Tuesday, National Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day #PJDay

17. Wednesday, Haiku Poetry Day #HaikuPoetryDay

18. Thursday, National Columnists’ Day #NationalColumnistDay

18. Thursday, Get to Know Your Customers Day #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay

18. Thursday, National High-Five Day #NH5D

20. Saturday, National Look-Alike Day #NationalLookAlikeDay

22. Monday, Earth Day #EarthDay2018

23. Tuesday, National Picnic Day #NationalPicnicDay

23. Tuesday, World Book Day #WorldBookDay

24. Wednesday, National Administrative Professionals Day #AdministrativeProfessionalsDay

24. Wednesday, Denim Day #DenimDay

25. Thursday, National Telephone Day #NationalTelephoneDay

25. Thursday, World Malaria Day #EndMalariaForGood

25. Thursday, National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day #COUNTONME

26. Friday, Arbor Day #ArborDay

29. Monday, International Dance Day #InternationalDanceDay

30. Tuesday, National Honesty Day #NationalHonestyDay

30. Tuesday, National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day #AdoptAShelterPetDay

30. Tuesday, International Jazz Day #JazzDay

May 2019

TBD: Red Nose Day #RedNoseDay

1. Wednesday, May Day #MayDay

1. Wednesday, International Workers Day #IntWorkersDay

2. Thursday, World Password Day #WorldPasswordDay

3. Friday, World Press Freedom Day #WPFD2019 #PressFreedom

3. Friday, Space Day #SpaceDay

4. Saturday, Star Wars Day #StarWarsDay & #Maythe4thBeWithYou

4. Saturday, International Firefighters Day #InternationalFirefightersDay

5. Sunday, Cinco de Mayo #CincoDeMayo

6. Monday, National Nurses Day #NursesDay

7. Tuesday, World Asthma Day #WorldAsthmaDay

7. Tuesday, Thank a Teacher Day #ThankATeacher

8. Wednesday, National Receptionist Day #NationalReceptionistDay

9. Thursday, Europe Day #EuropeDay

12. Sunday, National Limerick Day #NationalLimerickDay

13. Sunday, Mother’s Day #MothersDay

15. Wednesday, International Day of Families #FamilyDay

16. Thursday, Love a Tree Day #LoveATreeDay

17. Friday, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia #IDAHOT2019

17. Friday, National Bike to Work Day #BTWD

17. Friday, Endangered Species Day #EndangeredSpeciesDay

21. Tuesday, National Memo Day #NationalMemoDay

24. Friday, National Scavenger Hunt Day #NationalScavengerHuntDay

27. Monday, Memorial Day #MemorialDay #MDW

28. Tuesday, Hamburger Day #NationalHamburgerDay

29. Wednesday, Paperclip Day #PaperclipDay

31. Friday, World No-Tobacco Day #NoTobacco

31. Friday, Heat Awareness Day #NoFryDay

June 2019

1. Saturday, Global Day of Parents #GlobalDayOfParents

1. Saturday, International Children’s Day #ChildrensDay

2. Sunday, National Cancer Survivor’s Day #NCSD2019

3. Monday, Leave The Office Early Day #LeaveTheOfficeEarlyDay

5. Wednesday, World Environment Day #WorldEnvironmentDay

6. Thursday, Higher Education Day #HigherEducationDay

7. Friday, National Donut Day #NationalDonutDay

8. Saturday, World Oceans Day #WorldOceansDay

8. Saturday, Best Friends Day #BestFriendsDay

14. Friday, World Blood Donor Day #GiveBlood

14. Friday, National Flag Day #FlagDay

16. Sunday, Father’s Day #FathersDay

20. Thursday, World Refugee Day #WithRefugees

21. Friday, National Selfie Day #NationalSelfieDay

21. Friday, World Music Day #WorldMusicDay

21. Friday, International Yoga Day #InternationalYogaDay

21. Friday, First Day of Summer

21. Friday, Take Your Dog to Work Day #TakeYourDogToWorkDay

27. Thursday, National Sunglasses Day #NationalSunglassesDay

27. Thursday, National Handshake Day #HandshakeDay

30. Sunday, Social Media Day #SMDay

July 2019

1. Monday, National Postal Worker Day #NationalPostalWorkerDay

2. Tuesday, World UFO Day #WorldUFODay

4. Thursday, Independence Day (United States)

7. Sunday, World Chocolate Day #WorldChocolateDay

11. Thursday, Cheer Up the Lonely Day #CheerUpTheLonelyDay

12. Friday, Malala Day #MalalaDay

15. Monday, Give Something Away Day #GiveSomethingAwayDay

17. Wednesday, World Emoji Day #WorldEmojiDay

18. Thursday, Nelson Mandela International Day #MandelaDay

18. Thursday, Get to Know Your Customers Day #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay

26. Friday, Talk in an Elevator Day #TalkInAnElevatorDay

30. Tuesday, International Day of Friendship #DayOfFriendship

August 2019

1. Thursday, Respect for Parents Day #RespectForParentsDay

2. Friday, National Coloring Book Day #NationalColoringBookDay

8. Thursday, International Cat Day #InternationalCatDay

9. Friday, National Book Lovers Day #NationalBookLoversDay

10. Saturday, National Lazy Day #LazyDay

11. Sunday, National Sons and Daughters Day #SonsAndDaughtersDay

12. Monday, International Youth Day #YouthDay

12. Monday, World Elephant Day #WorldElephantDay

13. Tuesday, International Lefthanders Day #LefthandersDay

15. Thursday, National Relaxation Day #NationalRelaxationDay

16. Friday, National Tell a Joke Day #NationalTellAJokeDay

19. Monday, World Photo Day #WorldPhotoDay

19. Monday, World Humanitarian Day #WorldHumanitarianDay

20. Tuesday, National Lemonade Day #NationalLemonadeDay

26. Monday, National Dog Day #NationalDogDay

26. Monday, National Women’s Equality Day #WomensEqualityDay

September 2019

2. Monday, Labor Day #LaborDay

4. Wednesday, National Wildlife Day #NationalWildlifeDay

5. Thursday, International Day of Charity #CharityDay

6. Friday, Read a Book Day #ReadABookDay

8. Sunday, International Literacy Day #LiteracyDay

8. Sunday, National Grandparents Day #NationalGrandparentsDay

11. Wednesday, National Day of Service and Remembrance #911Day

12. Thursday, National Day of Encouragement #DayOfEncouragement

12. Thursday, National Video Games Day #NationalVideoGamesDay

13. Friday, Stand Up To Cancer Day #KissCancerGoodbye

19. Thursday, Talk Like a Pirate Day #TalkLikeAPirateDay

21. Saturday, International Day of Peace #PeaceDay

21. Saturday, Miniature Golf Day #MiniGolfDay

21. Saturday, Civic Day of Hacking #HackForChange

22. Sunday, Car-Free Day #CarFreeDay

22. Sunday, Hobbit Day #HobbitDay

23. Monday, First Day of Fall

25. Wednesday, National Women’s Health and Fitness Day #FitnessDay

26. Thursday, European Day of Languages #EDL2019

27. Friday, World Tourism Day #WTD2019

28. Saturday, World Rabies Day #WorldRabiesDay

28. Saturday, National Good Neighbor Day #GoodNeighborDay

30. Monday, International Podcast Day #InternationalPodcastDay

October 2019

1. Tuesday, International Day of Older Persons #UNDOP

1. Tuesday, International Coffee Day #InternationalCoffeeDay

1. Tuesday, World Vegetarian Day #WorldVegetarianDay

2. Wednesday, International Day of Nonviolence #InternationalDayOfNonviolence

3. Thursday, National Techies Day #TechiesDay

4. Friday, World Animal Day #WorldAnimalDay

4. Friday, National Taco Day #NationalTacoDay

4. Friday, World Smile Day #WorldSmileDay

5. Saturday, World Teachers Day #WorldTeachersDay

7. Monday, World Habitat Day #WorldHabitatDay

10. Thursday, World Mental Health Day #WorldMentalHeathDay

10. Thursday, World Sight Day #WorldSightDay

11. Friday, International Day of the Girl #DayOfTheGirl

13. Sunday, National Train Your Brain Day #TrainYourBrainDay

14. Monday, National Dessert Day #DessertDay

15. Tuesday, Global Handwashing Day #GlobalHandwashingDay

16. Wednesday, World Food Day #FoodDay

16. Wednesday, Bosses Day #BossesDay

17. Thursday, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty #EndPoverty

17. Thursday, Get to Know Your Customers Day #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay

20. Sunday, World Statistics Day #StatisticsDay

21. Monday, Reptile Awareness Day #ReptileAwarenessDay

24. Thursday, United Nations Day #UNDay

25. Friday, Greasy Foods Day #GreasyFoodsDay

30. Wednesday, National Publicist Day #NationalPublicistDay

30. Wednesday, Checklist Day #ChecklistDay

31. Thursday, Halloween #Halloween

November 2019

1. Friday, World Vegan Day #WorldVeganDay

1. Friday, National Authors Day #NationalAuthorsDay

1. Friday, National Cook For Your Pets Day #CookForYourPetsDay

3. Sunday, National Sandwich Day #NationalSandwichDay

3. Sunday, Daylight Saving Time Ends #DaylightSavings

4. Monday, National Candy Day #NationalCandyDay

8. Friday, National Cappuccino Day #CappuccinoDay

8. Friday, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Medicine (STEM) Day #STEMDay

11. Monday, Veterans Day #VeteransDay

13. Wednesday, World Kindness Day #WKD

14. Thursday, World Diabetes Day #WDD

15. Friday, Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day #CleanOutYourRefrigeratorDay

15. Friday, America Recycles Day #BeRecycled

16. Saturday, International Day for Tolerance #ToleranceDay

17. Sunday, International Students Day #InternationalStudentsDay

19. Tuesday, International Men’s Day #InternationalMensDay

19. Tuesday, National Entrepreneurs Day #EntrepreneursDay

20. Wednesday, Universal Children’s Day #UNChildrensDay

21. Thursday, World Hello Day #WorldHelloDay

26. Tuesday, National Cake Day #NationalCakeDay

28. Thursday, Thanksgiving Day #Thanksgiving

29. Friday, National Day of Listening #DayOfListening

29. Friday, Electronic Greeting Card Day #ElectronicGreetingCardDay

30. Saturday, Computer Security Day #ComputerSecurityDay

30. Saturday, Small Business Saturday #ShopSmall

December 2019

1. Sunday, World AIDS Day #WAD2019

2. Monday, Cyber Monday #CyberMonday

3. Tuesday, International Day of Persons with Disabilities #IDPWD

4. Wednesday, National Cookie Day #NationalCookieDay

5. Thursday, World Soil Day #WorldSoilDay

6. Friday, Microwave Oven Day #MicrowaveOvenDay

8. Sunday, Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day #PretendToBeATimeTravelerDay

10. Tuesday, Human Rights Day #HumanRightsDay

10. Tuesday, Nobel Prize Day #NobelPrize

11. Wednesday, International Mountain Day #InternationalMountainDay

13. Friday, National Salesperson Day #SalespersonDay

21. Saturday, Crossword Puzzle Day #CrosswordPuzzleDay

21. Saturday, First Day of Winter #WinterSolstice

30. Monday, No Interruptions Day – Last Work Day of the Year #NoInterruptionsDay

31. Tuesday, New Year’s Eve #NYE

Sources: National Day Calendar, Sprout Social, TrackMaven, Holiday Insights, Brownielocks, National Peace Corps Association, Sparkflow

Free Template Social Media Content Calendar

IGTV Video Previews Now Sharable to Instagram Stories

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media. On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show, we explore the option to preview IGTV videos in Stories and new Pinterest ads tools. Our special guests include Jenn […]

The post IGTV Video Previews Now Sharable to Instagram Stories appeared first on Social Media Examiner.

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The Voice Search Barometer: Where Do Users Stand? [New Data]

At this week’s annual Samsung Developer Conference, there was one technology that arguably stole the spotlight: Voice.

Samsung is making a somewhat apparent push to power more devices — from smartphones to smart speakers to home appliances — with its own voice assistant, Bixby.

It got us thinking: Where do users stand on voice assistants, anyway? How widespread is this technology’s use? And as Samsung keeps its audience waiting for its own smart speaker, the Galaxy Home, how enthusiastic are consumers about these digital assistive devices?

We ran some surveys to answer these questions, and with the help of new data from Zazzle, drew some conclusions on the current sentiment toward voice.

How Many People Plan to Buy a Smart Speaker?

We asked 831 people across the U.S., UK, and Canada: Do you plan to buy a smart speaker?

Do you plan to buy a smart speaker_

Most respondents — about 43% — indicated that they do not plan to buy a smart speaker.

It’s interesting to note, however, that while a smart percentage, the second-highest number of respondents indicated that they plan to buy one within the next six months.

That could align with more of the top contenders in the voice assistant market continuing to release newer models of their smart speakers, with improved functionalities and additional features (such as video).

The Value of Voice Assistants and Smart Speakers Remains Ambiguous

For many consumers, the purpose and tangible use cases of  voice assistants (and the smart speakers they power) remain unclear. When we asked 818 users across the U.S., UK, and Canada, “If you do not own a smart speaker, why not?” we found that most people simply don’t see the benefits of having one.

If you do not own a smart speaker, why not_

These findings align with two other sets of data.

The first is data from Zazzle, where out of “thousands of social media users” in the UK, 35% said that they don’t believe they would ever actually use such voice assistant devices as smart speakers.

The-State-of-Voice-Search-2018-Zazzle-MediaSource: Zazzle

The second is an additional survey we ran among 481 people across the U.S. and Canada, where 21% of respondents said that they don’t completely understand what voice assistants do.

Do you plan to buy a smart speaker_ (1)

The Outlook

The findings above point to some possible key indications about the outlook for voice assistants and the devices they power.

First, it seems that many users are unclear about the value of voice assistants, or what they do — a finding that’s suggested by the number of survey respondents who, if they didn’t say that their understanding of voice is muddled, said that they want to learn more about the technology before investing in it.

It is possible that some users do not assign the formal terminology of “voice assistants” to the technology with which they might be on a first-name basis; for example, Siri, Alexa, or “Okay, Google.” That’s suggested by Zazzle’s finding that 68% of users acknowledged the convenience of a voice assistant, saying that they were able to find information quicker by using this technology over typing out a query.

The-State-of-Voice-Search-2018-Zazzle-Media(2)Source: Zazzle

That finding is supported by our own findings that about a quarter of users who do use voice assistants do so to answer questions.

Which of the following describes the way you use your voice assistant -- like Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri -- the most_ (1)

To repeat our earlier point: More top contenders in the voice assistant market continuing to release newer models of their smart speakers, with improved functionalities and additional features. As the technology improves and scales, it could become more widespread and accessible to consumers, broadening the value and use cases.

And as it does, points out HubSpot’s head of SEO Victor Pan, so do the different platforms where customers can be reached.

“Pay attention to when your customers start to adopt,” Pan says — such as voice. “The point of marketing is to be where your customers are.”

How to Set Up Google Analytics for WordPress

Have you ever wondered what people actually do when they enter your WordPress website?

Have you thought about which website pages they tend to stay on longest, what campaigns bring them there, and which of your website pages covert the best?

Google Analytics can help you understand all of this information and so much more. By simply installing a Google Analytics plugin on your WordPress website, you can start collecting this data immediately. As is most things with WordPress, installing Google Analytics is a painless process.

In just five easy steps, you can uncover insights about your website visitors and what is and isn’t working for them so you can improve user experience, increase conversions, and learn about the people who are interested in your business.

How to Set Up Google Analytics for WordPress

Depending on the Google Analytics plugin you choose, set up may differ slightly. The WordPress plugin library has several options, such as Google Analytics Dashboard for WP, MonsterInsights, WooCommerce for Google Analytics, and Analytics Cat.

For the sake of this example, we’re going to review how to set up Google Analytics Dashboard for WP by ExactMetrics. No matter which plugin option you end up picking for your own WordPress website, the process will look fairly similar.

1. Sign Up For Google Analytics

The first thing you’re going to need to do is sign up for Google Analytics. If you already have a Google account, you’re off to a great start because that’s the only way you can actually use Google Analytics.

Either sign up for or sign into your Gmail account.

google-account-sign-in

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Then, head to the Google Analytics sign up page and click “Sign Up”.

google-analytics-sign-up

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You’ll be given the option to choose between using Google Analytics for your “Website” or “Mobile app”. We’re going to stick with “Website” for this example.

Complete the necessary information — Your “Account Name” will be the Google Analytics profile name for your website. You can choose whatever name you like, but best practice is to use your domain name.

sign-up-for-google-analytics

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Once you have completed the form fields, click “Get Tracking ID”. Your tracking ID and website tracking code will appear on the next page.Your tracking ID is included in your tracking code — this is what tells Google Analytics which account and property to send the data that is collected to. Depending on the plugin you chose, you may need add this information to the plugin, so it’s a good idea to keep this tab open.

google-analytics-tracking-id

2. Install Your Plugin

Next, you’ll need to actually install your plugin. If you are unsure how to install a WordPress plugin, check out the “Install Your Plugins” section in this WordPress guide.

google-analytics-dashboard-for-wp

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Once your plugin is installed, click “Settings” and then “Insights” to gain access to your new Google Analytics plugin.

insights-tab-wordpress

Now that you have installed your plugin, you’ll need to authenticate your Google account through WordPress so Google Analytics can access WordPress.

3. Authenticate Your Google Account

To authenticate your Google account, head to “Insights”, Click “Authenticate with your Google account”.

authenticate-with-your-google-account

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This will take you to the Google login page again where you can complete your information and click “Next”.

google-sign-in

Google will ask if you want to allow the Google Analytics Dashboard for WP plugin — or whatever plugin you chose — to access your information. Click “Allow”.

Note: When your plugin is installed and authorized, and a default domain is selected, the Google Analytics tracking code is automatically inserted on all web pages.

Some plugins may require you to insert the tracking code yourself if they don’t come with the same level of automation.

For example, Insert Header sand Footers is a Google Analytics plugin that does not install the tracking code for you. Instead, you’ll need to head to “Settings,” then “Insert Headers and Footers,” copy your tracking ID code and paste it into the “Scripts in Header” box.

insert-headers-and-footers

Click “Save” to store your tracking ID.

4. Select the Profile You Want to Track

Once you’ve allowed your plugin to access your Google Analytics information, you need to select the profile you want to track. Select your website and click “Continue”.

pick-a-google-analytics-profile

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You’ll then be redirected back to your WordPress website.

5. Start Tracking

Now, Google Analytics will start tracking data your website data.

You can view your Google Analytics data by heading to your Google Analytics dashboard through your Google account and clicking “Reporting”.

google-analytics-dashboard

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There is also a menu on the left side of your dashboard that includes different tabs with reports on your audience, acquisition, visitor behavior, and conversions.

Depending on your plugin of choice, you can also view your Google Analytics data in WordPress. In your WordPress menu, click “Dashboard” and your analytics should be visible.

wordpress-dashboard-for-google-analytics

Google Analytics for WordPress: What Can You Track?

Whether you’re looking for details about who is visiting your site, what they’re doing while on your site, or how long they’re staying on specific pages, Google Analytics will provide you with the report you need. The tool allows you to track many interactions between your website and visitors.

Let’s review some more of the specific types of reporting Google Analytics provides.

Audience

The audience tab will help you understand who your visitors are, their demographics, and other characteristics such as their interests, preferred language, and how they navigate to and from different pages on your website.

Acquisition

The acquisition tab will help you understand where your visitors are coming from.This information is helpful when setting up your marketing campaigns because it can show you exactly what’s working best for your acquired visitors.

Conversion

The conversion tab will help you understand your conversion rates. You can compare them to your goal and understand what is and isn’t working. You’ll learn more about which CTAs and landing pages on your site are successful and what is keeping your visitors most engaged.

Behavior

The behavior tab will help you understand what your visitors do when they arrive on your website. It dives into information about how they choose to get around your website, where they end up going on your site, and how they tend to interact with the different aspects of your site.

Analytics Specific to Your Plugin

In addition to the plethora of information that you receive from Google Analytics, your chosen plugin will also provide you with unique insights. For example, let’s review what Google Analytics Dashboard for WP provides. Some of these insights and features come standard with other analytics plugins in the WordPress library as well.

In-Depth Performance Reports. These reports provide you with in-depth performance details, such as bounce rates, referrals, page views, organic searches, and more, for each post and page on your website so you can segment your analytical data in a way that makes sense for your website and business.

Real-Time Stats. With Google Analytics Dashboard for WP, you’ll be able to review real-time statistics any time you open the plugin. Some of these stats include the current number of visitors on your website, your acquisition channels, and the source of your current traffic.

Custom Dimension Tracking. You can create custom dimensions to get specific data that matters to you and your business. For example, you can create custom dimension tracking about certain events and types of user engagement that are important to you.

Set Permissions Based On User Roles. If you have a large team, or team of people with different qualifications and needs when it comes to your analytics, you can set permissions based on user roles. This way you can ensure only the right people can make changes.

Back To You

Google Analytics provides you with insights and data that can help you drastically improve the state of your website. You can learn more about what is and isn’t working for your visitors as well as discover more about who they are so you can continue to tailor your content to their needs. With WordPress, installing Google Analytics on your website is quick and easy. In just minutes, you can start collecting the information that you need to enhance user experience and increase conversions on your WordPress website.

Your Easy Guide to Making a YouTube Thumbnail

Sometimes, your YouTube thumbnail just doesn’t cut it. You could’ve uploaded the most interesting video on YouTube, but it might not get the views it deserves if you’re relying on a simple freeze-frame to tell viewers what it’s about.

Thumbnails, the small, clickable snapshots that viewers see when they search for videos on YouTube, can be just as important as a video’s title. They preview your video and entice viewers to click through.

Creating vibrant YouTube thumbnails can also instantly grab people’s attention — the brain is programmed to respond to striking visuals — and it can help you differentiate yourself on a platform clogged with standard thumbnails all screaming for attention.

Since your video’s click-through rate is one of the most important ranking factors in YouTube’s search algorithm, especially during its first hour on the platform, an eye-catching thumbnail can make a huge difference in ranking number one for a query and not ranking at all.

If your video has an ordinary or sub-par thumbnail, it won’t persuade anyone to click through. YouTube could deem the video irrelevant and won’t rank it in their search results or distribute it through the “Recommended Videos” feed.

Fortunately, pulling freeze frames from your YouTube videos isn’t the only way you can create thumbnails. There are online tools, made specifically for people who might not have a ton of design experience, that can help you craft custom thumbnails — all for free.

Below, we’ll guide you through an easy five-step process for creating visually appealing YouTube thumbnails that will cut through the noise, boost your video’s click-through rate, and lift your rankings.

1. Visit a free online YouTube thumbnail maker.

There are seven free online YouTube thumbnail makers listed below, but we featured FotoJet in this guide because it’s one of the only YouTube thumbnail makers that doesn’t make you sign up for a free account before you can create a thumbnail. Their robust thumbnail maker lets you customize and download your thumbnails completely for free — no email address necessary.

2. Upload a photo or choose one of the thumbnail makers’ templates.

YouTube will let you upload any picture from your computer as your video’s thumbnail. But if you don’t have a vivid visual on your computer or you need some inspiration, Fotojet’s got you covered. They have over 23 free templates that can serve as your thumbnail’s foundation.

One of the best tactics for creating striking thumbnails is including a talking head in it. People are naturally drawn to human faces because it’s an ingrained survival mechanism to help us quickly gauge someone’s emotions and determine if they’re a threat or friend. Research Gate also discovered that Instagram photos with faces are 38% more likely to receive likes and 32% more likely to receive comments.

3. Add text, clipart, or a background to your thumbnail.

Once you’ve picked your picture or template, you can make your thumbnail stand out even more by adding text, clipart, or a background to it.

Consider adding your video’s title to the thumbnail to further clarify your video’s subject matter. Additionally, if your photo, graphic, or text is bright, consider placing it on top of a dark background. The color contrast will make your thumbnail pop. The same logic applies to dark objects and bright backdrops.

4. Download the finished product to your computer.

After you finish polishing your thumbnail, press the “Save” button at the top of the page.

Title your thumbnail and save it as a JPG or PNG. Its resolution will already match YouTube’s recommended resolution — 1280 x 720 pixels — so you don’t have to worry about resizing it.

7 YouTube Thumbnail Makers

Along with Fotojet’s free online YouTube thumbnail maker, there are seven other thumbnail makers that can help you customize your own YouTube thumbnails. Before you create a thumbnail with these tools, though, you need to sign up for a free account on their websites.

1. Canva

With more than 2 million images in their library, hundreds of fonts, and customizable backgrounds and colors, Canva gives you more than enough resources to unleash your creativity.

2. Adobe Spark

Adobe Spark lets you select from thousands of photos on the web and a variety of built-out themes with their own unique layouts, colors, and fonts to craft eye-catching YouTube thumbnails.

3. Crello

With Crello, you can create engaging thumbnails by blending a multitude of designs, photos, backgrounds, text, and objects together.

4. Visme

Choose from a wide selection of templates, photos, graphics, colors, and fonts to create a thumbnail in Visme.

5. Fotor

Fotor provides templates under certain themes to help you create captivating thumbnails.

6. Picmaker

With over 100,000 graphics, 1,000 stock photos, stickers, borders, backgrounds, text, icons, and filters, and an automatic background remover, you can create a gripping thumbnail on Picmaker in plenty of ways.

7. Snappa

Snappa has over 500,000 stock photos, an assortment of professionally designed templates, and customizable graphics, shapes, and text to help you create a YouTube thumbnail. They also have a drag and drop functionality to help you create your own custom thumbnail template.

How to Download and Save Facebook Videos

Over the past year, Facebook Watch has seen some significant success — since the start of 2018, total time spent watching videos in Watch has increased by 14x.

Facebook Watch offers thousands of impressive, high-quality videos for both entertainment and educational purposes. It also provides content you can’t find anywhere else, like Huda Kattan’s behind-the-scenes show Huda Boss, or Bear Grylls’ show, Face The Wild.

So what happens when you stumble across a great Facebook Watch video but don’t have the time to watch it fully, or find the content so useful you want to save the video and use it as a reference tool later? Fortunately, there’s a quick and easy way to download and save Facebook videos on desktop — here, we’ll show you how.

1. Go to Facebook Watch, find a video you want to download, and click the three-dot Settings icon. Then, select “Copy link”.

2. Go to https://fbdown.net/ and paste your URL into the text box. Then, click the “Download” button beside it.

3. You’ll have two options — “Download Video in Normal Quality” or “Download Video in HD Quality”. For our purposes, I clicked the “Download Video in Normal Quality” link.

4. Once your video downloads, click on it in your downloads and it will open within your web browser. Now, right click, and select “Save Video As … “.

5. Give your video a name, and save it wherever you want to find it later.

6. After a couple minutes of downloading, your video will appear wherever you saved it. That’s it, you’ve officially downloaded and saved a Facebook video!

How to Create Ads That Move People to Action

Want a faster, better way to optimize your ads? Did you know that focusing on customers’ emotions can help? To explore how to use emotional messaging to move people to action, I interview Talia Wolf. More About This Show The Social Media Marketing podcast is designed to help busy marketers, business owners, and creators discover […]

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Meet the People Building the TV Controlled by Your Brain

Let’s take a moment to think about some of the things many of us like to do with our downtime.

I’ll start. Picking a glass of wine from an extensive list at a bar. Texting a friend to hang out. And, of course, browsing Netflix for something to binge-watch.

Now, imagine having limited mobility, and being restricted in carrying out what many of us considering to be mundane, day-to-day activities.

Selecting a movie to watch on Netflix, for instance, would be close to impossible with restricted motor skills, without the ability to manually scroll through options — and in some cases, to dictate to someone else what we want to watch.

For many, that thought is a reality — and now, a team of researchers is building technology to address it. Here’s what we learned about the technology at this week’s Samsung Developer Conference, and what’s next for the people developing it.

Meet the People Who Are Building a Way to Control a TV With Your Brain

The name is Project Pontis: an initiative to develop a device that can control a TV only with the brain.

“How can we provide accessibility to people who cannot move?” asks Ricardo Chavarriaga, a scientist at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) — which is working in partnership with Samsung and the Swiss Paraplegic Centre. “We try to develop systems that allow people with severe motor disabilities to interact with their environments.”

IMG_4061

One of those interactions is something as seemingly simple as choosing a movie to watch, which was the activity demonstrated at today’s event. “It will be an assistive tool for people with disabilities,” says EPFL’s Ruslan Aydarkhanov, “so that they can be independent and use the TV without external help.”

At the center of Project Pontis is a physical prototype pictured below, which records electrical activity from the brain that the technology uses as signals that could indicate the user’s intent.

IMG_4097

Ruslan Aydarkhanov demonstrates the Project Pontis prototype

Then, using artificial intelligence and machine learning, those signals are converted into what Aydarkhanov calls “meaningful information”: the details that translate into what the user wants to do.

This particular prototype uses a combination of the aforementioned brain signals and eye movements to assist with the activity of selecting a movie to watch.

“For the simple selections of menus, we just use eye movements, because it’s much more efficient,” explains Aydarkhanov. “But when you want to find a movie, it’s a more complicated task, because you’re not sure exactly what you want to see.”

That’s where the artificial intelligence and machine learning come in.

“We use the reaction of the brain to see what is interesting to you,” Aydarkhanov says, “and we show a sample of movies so that the system can, based on your reaction, understand what is this particular thing that you want to watch.”

But what presents one of the biggest challenges to developing this prototype are the nuances of human interaction — whether it’s with other humans, or with machines.

IMG_4077

Ricardo Chavarriaga speaks about the technology of Project Pontis

“A brain is not static, so every day, it’s changing little by little,” Aydarkhanov says. “That means the signal that we record is also changing, and we have to adapt the artificial intelligence system to still make sense of the signal.”

What the prototype is trying to replicate is that nuanced brain “signature” that is produced as a result of external stimulus. It’s far from simple, and actually involves a combined process triggered by that external stimulus and what the user is experiencing internally.

“How does the user’s brain react when it has this ‘click’?” asks Chavarriaga. “I need to be sure that what I’m getting from the electrodes [read by the prototype] actually means what I think it means … in this case, what the person wants to do with the TV.”

Should that “click” be successfully replicated, Chavarriaga suggested, it could be carried over to other intelligent devices, such as prosthetics, which would likely be heavily reliant on technology that can understand user intent of movement — something that also changes quickly and frequently, based on internal and external stimuli.

“Everybody is different. This variability has to be taken into account, [which is why we need] technology that is more intelligent,” Chavarriaga explains. “We have to find ways to properly match technology to the users, and we have to take into account the variability of the users.”

IMG_4084

Project Prontis is one of Samsung’s Corporate Citizenship programs, which works to develop technological advancements to meet various social and mission-driven needs.

The current trajectory of Project Prontis is to develop a second prototype into the first quarter of 2019. After that, the plan is to test the technology in hospitals and specialized institutions throughout Switzerland.

Featured image source: Samsung

11 of the Best Free Website Builders

It’s almost impossible to maintain a successful business without a fully functional, responsive, SEO-compatible website — but you don’t have to shell out the big bucks to afford one.

There are plenty of options for building and designing a website for free, many of which require little to no coding knowledge. And these website builders are often comparable in quality to their paid alternatives, particularly for small businesses or personal brands.Download our full collection of homepage, blog, and landing page examples here  to inspire your own website design. 

The free website builders we’re sharing today offer SEO benefits, embedded analytics systems, mobile optimization, and professional-looking templates. If you’re on a tight budget and can’t quite swing the paid builders, these are the next best thing.

Read on to check out 11 of the best free website builders, so you can build a website for free without forfeiting quality.

1. Wix

Wix is one of the most popular free website builders out there, with 110 million users. The fully hosted platform offers an easy drag-and-drop editor, and a large collection of professional-looking templates that are well-suited for small businesses, online stores, restaurants, or personal portfolios.

Wix supplies built-in Google Analytics to monitor your site, and even offers additional apps for individual preferences. If you want, Wix can even design your site for you. The biggest downside of Wix’s free version is it doesn’t come ad-free, and each page of your site will have a prominent Wix ad. Ad-free is only an option if you pay for the premium version.

Website by Amber Schormans built with Wix

2. Weebly

This open source SaaS offers web hosting, domain registration, web design, and even ecommerce functions, making it suitable for businesses and startups. Weebly’s a particularly flexible website builder, compatible with every device and platform, and easy to use.

Like Wix, Weebly has drag-and-drop functionality, as well as an integrated CMS solution, and hand-coded HTML files. The in-house editor comes with SEO tools and Google Analytics. With PayPal integration, an automatic tax calculator, digital gift cards, and more, Weebly is a smart choice for ecommerce businesses. And unlike some of its other free competitors, Weebly is ad-free.

Website by Mill Clothing built with Weebly

3. WebNode

WebNode is a popular choice for both personal brands and professionals — it’s easy to use, and you can create a website in a different language or on a different platform to suit your business’s needs. WebNode supports ecommerce stores, and the sites are compatible with Android, Mac, and IOS devices. WebNode will provide statistics to track your site’s success, free of charge, and even with the free version, you won’t have ads.

Website by Orange Grove built with WebNode

4. Jimdo

Based in Germany, Jimdo is a valuable option for international companies, with options to create a site in more than nine different languages. The builder is compatible with smartphones and tablets, and there’s a mobile app you can use to build a mobile-optimized site, as well.

With no page limit and 500 MB of space, you’ll likely have more than enough space to build your site, and it even provides HTTPS/SSL encryption, meaning your visitor’s information will be kept safe. Plus, you’re able to integrate your site seamlessly with social media accounts. If you do decide to use Jimdo, beware of one thing: the builder prevents free websites from being indexed by search engines.

Website by Vorm built with Jimdo

5. Mozello

One of the biggest selling-points for this Latvian-based company is the builder allows you to create a multilingual site for free — something unmatched by other website builders.

Mozello’s features include a blog, online store, SEO options, and 500 MB of storage. There is an advertisement, but it’s just a link in the footer, so most visitors won’t see it. The only drawback is the drag-and-drop system isn’t as intuitive or complex as some other options, and there aren’t a ton of design customization options.

Website by Anna Photography built with Mozello

6. WebStarts

With a wide collection of beautiful templates and a user-friendly drag and drop functionality, WebStarts makes building a website as simple as possible: best of all, whatever you see when you’re designing is exactly what your visitors will see when you publish the site. This can take some of the guess-work out of the process.

Website by Business Coaching built with WebStarts

7. Webflow

While most of the other builders in this list are for people without a ton of coding knowledge, Webflow is specifically for designers and agencies who build sites for clients — this means the HTML and CSS is entirely in your control.

After you’ve built a site on Webflow, you will need to transfer it to a content management system. There are some features, like drag-and-drop widgets for adding social components, maps, and videos, that don’t require coding knowledge. But if you want the full benefits of Webflow, you’ll need to know HTML or CSS. There’s a limited set of themes, a responsive interface, and your Webflow site can be customized for desktop, tablets, or smartphones.

Apart from the necessity of knowing code, one other drawback of Webflow is you can only have two pages, and there’s a limit of 500 visits for free users.

Website by Geely Automobiles built with Webflow

8. IM Creator

With more than 11 million sites built on IM Creator, it’s a popular option for a few reasons: there’s an easy point-and-click interface, an extensive range of templates and images, and unlimited web hosting and domain services. Plus, the platform is scalable, and you can have either single or multipage layouts. This builder is unique for its built-in ecommerce tools, and offers SEO and Google Analytics to fully optimize your site for search engines.

Website built with IM Creator

9. SITE123

Arguably one of the most flexible and easy-to-use builders, Site123 lets you customize anything and offers a one-click installation wizard with graphics and templates. Site123 stands out as particularly helpful with its free images library, professional fonts to add visual elements to your site, and creative DIY plans for creating multiple pages (which are unlimited). Plus, since it offers web hosting domain registration, 500 MB storage space, Google Analytics, and is ad-free, you won’t feel pressured to switch to a paid plan.

Website built with SITE123

10. Strikingly

Strikingly prides itself on helping its users build a website with no programming skills required. Thousands of sites have been launched through this website creator, and users can start designing their own by selecting from countless templates contributed by site owners around the world. You can find website designs suited for startups, ecommerce stores, blogs, events, product launches, and personal branding.

Strikingly’s free offering comes with unlimited free sites but a modest 5 GB of monthly bandwidth. You’re also limited to a strikingly.com domain unless you upgrade to a paid plan, which starts at $8 per month.

Website by The Adventure Learning Project built with Strikingly

11. Duda

Duda is a feature-rich website creator with numerous site widgets and media files, allowing you to piece together a website to fit your specific needs. On top of site templates and a lengthy content library, Duda comes with a team-collaboration tool and basic analytics to show you how visitors are engaging with different parts of your website.

Duda offers a free trial, as well as plans that start as a low as $14 per month billed annually. 

Website promoting wine event built with Duda

There you have it! Since all of these website builders are free, try out a couple if you’re unsure of the best fit. In particular, take note of what you really want to get out of your site to ensure your needs will be met by one of these free builders.

examples of brilliant homepage, blog, and landing page design

 
Examples of Website Design