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5 Tips to Get More Retweets

Twitter is an important component to any business’s social media tool belt. It can be used to promote, give snippets of information about a company, or even help with customer service inquiries. When promoting your business through Twitter, it can often be difficult for posts to get the attention they deserve. Ultimately, you are striving for more favorites and retweets. Follow these tips to help keep your message from being buried in a sea of tweets.

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1. Get noticed with hashtags.

Hashtags help boost your tweets to get them noticed. However, you must be careful not to overuse hashtags, or #CreateTooLongOfAHashtag. Too many tags makes your post look more like spam and having more than two words in a hashtag can be confusing for readers. Pick simple keywords that highlight the theme of your tweet and limit them to one per post if possible.

2. Timing is everything.

The amount of people you reach with your tweets can depend on what time you send them out. If you are a business to consumer company, you are more likely to be retweeted on Sunday, between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. This could be because users are less likely to be working and are winding down at the end of the day on social media.  The time that you decide to tweet could also depend on the target audience you are trying to reach out to. Consider your audience and what time might work best for you.

3. Give tweets a call to action.

One of the best ways to get a retweet? Just ask! Research shows that tweets that include “please retweet” are 4x more likely to be retweeted. Even if you abbreviate “retweet” with “RT,” you are still 3x more likely to get retweeted. But be sure to say “please,” not only does it show that you have impeccable manners, but it works like an advertisement by motivating targets with a call-to-action.

4. Include links in your tweets.

Embedded links that direct users to useful content like “how-to’s” enables you to include more content to an otherwise brief message. Studies have found that about 52% of retweets include links. The link can be to the business website, blog, or even to relevant news sources that is related to your industry. Are you worried that your links are too long? Twitter has a link shortener called t.co that shrinks website links down to 22 characters automatically so that you can include more content in your tweets.

5. Use bright and colorful imagery.

Images included in tweets are previewed on your Twitter feed, which are more intriguing to read and more attention-grabbing. In fact, tweets with images are 18% more likely to be retweeted than tweets that don’t have images. Choose pictures with rich, bright colors, or choose interesting images like infographics to help generate interest.

Creative Ways to Improve Your Design Portfolio

Like your resume, your portfolio is constantly being changed, added to and revised. Your portfolio is the best way to establish your own personal brand as a designer, whether you’re freelance or you work for a company. It’s important that your portfolio stays up-to-date but also remains consistent with your image.

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Create a unique presentation.

Portfolios can take on many different forms. Some look like books or magazines. Others look like pop-up books or unfold like a map. Some portfolios are even printed on postcards or kept in boxes. What’s unique about many of these is that they’re interactive and engage the reader. Thinking out of the box by picking an unusual medium for your portfolio can be the game-changer that gets you hired.

Keep a physical and online copy.

Online copies are important for employers who are looking at you as a possible hire; they’re also much easier to manage and keep up to date. It’s best to have an online portfolio for those who can’t view your physical copy in person. Personalized copies, on the other hand, look more personalized, are easier to access and helps you stand out among other designers. Plus, you have better control of its appearance. You could even make it a pop-up book if you wanted! You should create an online and physical portfolio to work hand-in-hand. The online portfolio is great for grabbing the attention of employers before an interview and they can include a broader range of works. Plus, they’re usually easier to access and update. Physical copies make a more lasting impression, are ideal for interviews and can be tailored for the job you are applying for.

Don’t forget the call-to-action. 

You can spend days making sure your online portfolio looks perfect. But don’t forget why employers are looking at it in the first place– they are considering you as a potential hire. Therefore, it’s important that you leave an obvious call-to-action. Make it easy to locate your contact page because you want it to be easy for employers to get in touch with you. Try putting a big “Contact me” button on your portfolio, or even a link to your contact information on every page. Don’t be afraid to be a little assertive.

Consider quality vs. quantity. 

You may feel inclined to include every design or side project you’ve worked on in your career. However, doing this can clutter your portfolio. Including too many projects might make it difficult for employers to remember what they’ve seen. Only choose works that you’re the most proud of and the ones that have received the most positive feedback from clients. Pick ones that would make great talking points during interviews. Most importantly, include projects that would be relevant to the design jobs you are applying for. For example, if you’re going for a typography job, select the works that focus on typography.

Be crystal clear.

That doesn’t just mean the designs themselves. Always include clear descriptions of the designs you have done, who they were completed for and when. Explain how you came up with the design or why you created the design. It helps employers understand what you do, and better remember the design later. If you include any collaborations in your portfolio, it’s also very important that you credit other designers that helped you create it.

Provide mock-ups.

Product mock-ups show your design in context. Do you have an awesome t-shirt design that you’ve made? Show it on a t-shirt. Have you created a mind-blowing book cover? Show that design on a book cover! Presenting your designs the way they were meant to be presented ensures that your work is quality and that you can follow through with your designs.

Include a blog.

Blogging is a great way to keep your online content fresh with updates. You can post about current projects you’re working on, the progress you’re making with them and advice or thoughts about the design industry. It’s both personal and showcases what you know, and adds a complement to your design portfolio.

Stay up-to-date.

Your portfolio is never truly finished, but continuously changing as you are, so don’t slack when it comes to your portfolio. Especially your online portfolio because it’s accessible at any time. Having a lot of content but neglecting to update it in over a year or two can look a little lazy. Be sure to swap in new and creative projects you’ve worked on, or take some of the older ones out. A couple great rules remember are to make changes at least every six months and only include designs that are less than three years old.

Remember to sell yourself.

Make sure that your portfolio conveys a message and your own personal brand identity. Add your own zing to your portfolio because it is supposed to represent your own unique personality as a designer. Doing this helps build trust between you and whoever is perusing your work, and most importantly, helps you stand out among other designers.

1-Minute Workshop: Selective Focus

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Using Selective Focus in Adobe Photoshop

Step 1

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to use the Gaussian Blur filter in Photoshop to create an interesting composition that focuses on one part of a photo. Start by selecting an interesting photo. For this example, a photo of an old antique scale is used. Open the photo in Photoshop.

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Step 2

Take a closer look at your photo and choose a location you want to emphasize or draw attention to, such as the lettering and broken glass in this photo.

Select the Circular Marquee tool in the tool palette and create a circular selection over the photo. Then go to Select > Modify > Feather. Make the feather radius a large pixel size. For this example, 100 pixels is used. Click OK.

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Step 3

Without clicking off the selection, go to Select > Inverse (in the top menu). This will inverse the selection so that everything outside of your original selection is now selected. The next step is to apply a soft blur to this new selection. Without clicking off the selection, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and enter an amount like 14. Click OK to apply the blur. The resulting effect should emulate a short depth of field with the center of the photo in sharp focus and blurring as it goes out further toward the edges.

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Step 4

To further enhance the photo, duplicate the layer and set the Layer Mode of the duplicate layer to Soft Light. This will create a richer look with more contrast, definition of color, bold shadows and highlights.

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Are QR Codes Worth Using in Your Advertisements?

If you don’t know what a QR code is, you’ve probably seen it. Over the last few years, these easy-to-scan codes have become popular in print advertising. QR codes (short for quick-response codes) are images that consist of black and white blocks, similar to a barcode, which store information for website links. These codes can be scanned through an app on your smartphone using your phone’s camera and directs you to whatever website or advertising message it’s programmed for.

Even though a QR code offers many advertising benefits, like increasing website traffic and catering to local targets at a low cost, its success rate is questionable. A study done in 2013 says that 21% of smartphone users have scanned a QR code before, but only 19% of those have frequently scanned them. However, there are many QR code success stories that give excellent examples of how much potential they can have. Take a peek at some of the advantages and disadvantages to incorporating QR codes into your advertisements.

QR Code Pros

  • They provide an easy link between print to mobile content: QR codes link to websites, Facebook pages and mobile apps. Some advertisers use them for booking reservations in restaurants, giving directions to store locations, or linking to coupons and giveaways. Since we’re in the digital age, having this bridge between different media is important and can be highly useful. It adds an interactive feature to an otherwise two-dimensional advertisement, and better benefits to the viewer because it often provides more information on the company in the advertisement.
  • They can be printed on almost anything: Chances are you’ve probably seen this code on posters, boxes, windows and even t-shirts. QR codes can be poster-sized or small enough to fit onto a business card. This can be useful if you’re printing an ad that’s too small to fit all of the information you want or if you want the code to get noticed in a big way by presenting it as a very large focal point.

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    Creative Outlet’s QR code

  • They are easy and cost-effective: QR codes are incredibly easy to utilize. By simply entering a website address in a QR code generator, you’ll have your own unique code for free in seconds. Using QR codes helps minimize the amount of space you need for an ad, which can be really useful if you’re looking to advertise in a newspaper or magazine.

QR Code Cons

  • The effectiveness is questionable: Believe it or not, QR codes have been around for about 10 years but they’ve failed to gain a lot of traction. From July 2011 to May 2013, the number of smartphone users increased, while the number of QR codes scanned has remained the same.
  • Some users find it inconvenient: Although it takes a few seconds to pull out your smartphone and scan a QR code, it’s enough to discourage viewers to bother with the code at all. Users must first download a QR code scanning app to their mobile device in order to scan the code in the first place. Since Apple and Android cellphones still don’t include a pre-downloaded QR code app on their devices, it further discourages people to take interest in a QR code.
  • Some consumers don’t trust it: Since these codes are so easy to generate, almost anyone can make one. This makes it difficult to trust QR codes because you don’t know what you’re scanning until you scan it.  It takes one bad QR code experience to taint the usage of QR codes altogether.

Getting creative with QR codes can create added value to viewers, but creating an advertisement that enables your target to want to scan your code can be tricky. Trust between your brand and the consumers you are targeting should be established before they will consider taking a few moments to scan a QR code. Weigh out some of these pros and cons to see if incorporating QR codes is the best route for your advertisements.

Selling Ideas to Turn Your Luck Around on Friday the 13th

Superstition can be silly, or even irrational, but the fear of the number 13 (or triskaidekaphobia), affects more people than you might think. More than 80% of high-rise buildings lack a 13th floor, some hospitals don’t have a 13th room and many airports avoid the 13th gate. But even if you think superstition is nothing to fear– think again. Whether it’s a casino or a grocery store, businesses generally see a massive decline in sales on Friday the 13th. It’s estimated that around $700-800 million in revenue is lost every on these days. Now that’s scary!

This year, we’re going to be observing THREE of these unlucky days in February, March and November. Instead of falling for superstition, embrace it with these clever advertising ideas.

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Advertise good luck charms.

Many great athletes carry lucky charms or perform rituals before every game. Some have a lucky pair of (unwashed) socks or a hat they need to wear. Others might need to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before every game or they believe they’ll be setting themselves up for failure.  Sports equipment stores can use these superstitions by advertising a deal for anyone who admits they have a lucky charm or ritual on social media. They can even offer deals on charms for those who haven’t found their luck.

Retail stores can also promote deals like “Buy-one-get-one for a lucky penny.” They can also try doing “lucky penny deals” for items that have trouble selling. Find those hard-to-sell items or discontinued products and advertise them as costing one penny. This makes it like a treasure hunt for those who are looking for a deal and also encourages other sales as customers search for these items.

Spread the word about black cats.

Animal shelters can encourage animal-lovers to ditch the black cat superstition by advertising black cat adoption on Friday the 13th. Any other day of the year is difficult for black cat adoptions because they’re often viewed as a bad omen. Sadly, they’re the ones most often left without a home at animal shelters. Try using a tagline like, “Make Their Friday the 13th Lucky!” while advertising positive facts about black cats. But don’t forget about our other black furry friends! Try offering deals on all black-fur animals as well since black cats aren’t the only ones who are left behind.

In addition, shelters can team up with pet grooming facilities to give a free pet grooming per adoption. Or, they can provide dog and cat grooming for $13 off for regular customers.

Try an “everybody wins” giveaway.

Businesses can offer 13 “grand” prizes in an online/social media giveaway, while making it possible for everyone to be winners– even on Friday the 13th. In addition to the grand prizes, businesses can offer coupon deals or small freebies to those who entered the giveaway. Since many may be reluctant to try their luck in a luck-of-the-draw contest, offering something to anyone who participates will be more reassuring.

Promote with clover deals.

Book stores and libraries can hop on board for Friday the 13th deals by creating a fun way to entice shoppers and book borrowers. Businesses can hide paper four-leaf clovers into a random selection of books at a particular book display. For those who are lucky enough to find a clover in the book they are purchasing, or simply leafing through, they can use it to get 13% off of a book or turn it in for a small prize. This drives the tradition of pressing four-leaf clovers in books for safe keeping. This could also be a great idea for St. Patrick’s Day!

There are plenty of opportunities for businesses to advertise for Friday the 13th. Although this day usually has the least amount of sales, businesses can use creative ways to encourage the more superstitious (and even the least superstitious) customers to check out their store. If you’re the more superstitious one, don’t create your own bad luck by missing out on some great selling opportunities!