Design Your Own Social Media Posts and Get Noticed!

Whether you like it or not, social media is pretty much here to stay and as far as I am concerned, you have two choices, get on the boat or swim! I chatter a lot about how we as businesses large or small should be using social media in our marketing strategies. Surveys, reviews, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Google Maps, Bing Local, Pinterest, Foursquare etc… You’ve heard it all before the value of being connected. Well what if I told you this is in fact just one small part in the this big machine of marketing. Innovation creates uniqueness, there is more to social media than posting and copying and pasting URL’s that appear interesting or relative to your cause, business or products. Whatever you are selling, social media is not the end all be all of product marketing, it is an amalgam of things, working parts we can create as business owners to make our message more effective, louder and more noticeable. It is the difference between taking the time to be creative and thoughtful and being complacent and unimaginative.

Social media was not born out of necessity it was born out of creativity and people’s need to be connected to, well, everything! When I began my business I wanted to help everyone discover his or her online influence through marketing and content. Quite honestly, in the beginning, I didn’t know how to go about this effectively and on a large scale. I mean I had an understanding of marketing and communications and with my background in Graphic Design I had untapped resources, resources I didn’t even know I had available to me. Over time and research I made a assessment about how I sought to present social media marketing to clients and give them a blueprint about how this strategy would make their particular market appealing, effectual and visible. I wasn’t looking to reinvent the wheel but I was looking to reinvent the uniqueness of content and find a way to use Graphic Design to do so.

You see info-graphics all over the web, but who’s to say you can’t create your own? You don’t have to be a graphic designer to use Photoshop or Illustrator, you just have to have time and now with the expediency of YouTube, you now have all the learning potential right at your fingertips, literally. It’s like saying you have to be photographer to take great photography.  However, if you take the time to hone in on a new skill and work with awesome gear that is accessible to you, you make yourself a resourceful entity.

When it comes to creating exceptional content for your social media sites and websites, there are some tricks and programs that can help out. Once again, all you need is time, an idea and some imagination. I was told once by a professor that when it comes to graphic layout there is no copyright law that keeps you from copying a layout, however it is up to you to make it your own and re-create it uniquely.” So make it your own!

Most of the tools in my toolbox are nominal. To start with, think about the big picture, literally. When looking to post a poster on your Facebook or Google+ page make sure it is optimally formatted for the accurate dimensions for the specific timelines. Chances are if you post something and it is not optimally formatted, you’re your content below the fold disappears and now you’ve missed your opportunity. Always, always, always, maintain the most vital content above the fold. Granted, individuals can click on the photos and enlarge them, but why miss out on the demographic that will not? This is where custom designing comes into play. There are two ways to proceed with creating your own poster graphics for social media, check it out:

Adobe Creative Cloud Membership

Utilize to access all CS programs for a low monthly membership fee or purchase to own at full price. If you don’t want to make the initial $900 investment in something you might not like over time, then get the month-to-month membership. It’s worth it, especially when you are starting out novice or pro, the new CS programs are vastly different from previous versions. Additionally, you have access to all the new Adobe programs such as Photoshop, In Design, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Muse and so on. It will cost you around $49 p/month and if you decide that you like it, then you can purchase the full version. The only caveat to all of this is the fact that Adobe is incessantly altering their programs and with CS you are always in contact with the latest and newest programs/support they offer. You can also sign up for 30 day risk free membership as well.

YouTube

There are all sorts of great YouTube “how to” CS tutorials. I personally like Terry White and Christian Perello, but honestly it comes down to you personally and what your needs are. Adobe also has a myriad of educational videos on their website for all of their entire product lines. Basically if you learn one you can learn them all, as they are seamlessly functional and integrated universally.

PicMonkey – Picture Editor

If you are just starting out with designing custom graphics for your SM sites, PicMonkey simplifies all of this for you. With PM you have a starting graphic whether it is picture or text. They have various filters to choose from, text overlay, cloning, borders, filters, graphics; the list goes on and on. They also have cropping and sizing options in addition to the option to save a png or jpg file type  as well (we’ll get to that next). The only caveat is you cannot work with a blank slate on PM you have to bring some to the art board. I use PM in conjunction with CS. If I have a text graphic I am creating in AI, or PS I can save this for web (jpg. or png.) file types and then open in PM to add filters or quick graphics, borders etc…  There is a free version of PicMonkey and a paid version. The paid version is $4.99 a month and you have access to everything whereas the FREE version is limited access.

 

Size Chart

Keep your graphics to spec, don’t lose out any below the fold content designs. Below is good quick reference to follow for sizing your graphics so they show up in their entirety on your SM timelines/feed. Or you can click here  and see the entire SM sizing chart.

Facebook

  • Posts: 403×403 px
  • Cover Photo: 851×315 px

Google+

  • Posts: 800×600 px

LinkedIn

  • Coverphoto: 646×220

Pinterest

  • Board: 222×207

QUICK TIP: When saving your graphics save them as a png file type and when creating your graphic in CS create as an RGB format. RGB can be saved for monitor and the lowest resolution such as 72 dpi is your best graphic result with minimal pixilation. You do not need high resolution for small graphics. Create in RGB and save fro web as a PNG and if you transfer an Adobe graphic to PicMonkey for quick graphics PicMonkey also allows you to re-save as a png. IF you have several colors in your graphic, jpg will show up grainy and pixilated, keep it simple, keep it png.

Regardless of whatever you are designing for your social media posts, just the simple fact that you are keeping your content unique is effectual. Make sure to always sign or copyright your graphics so you and you only have the rights over those graphics and why not give yourself credit! Designing custom post graphics is fairly simple and a great way to start. Start small with a picture on PicMonkey, add a filter, text or simple graphic to spruce it up. Take the time to be authentic because in the end it’s our creativity that wins out when it comes to unique vs. unimaginative. Be original!

Think You Know Detroit? Think Again…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt wasn’t until I read the eye opening article in Food and Wine magazine about the culinary culture shift in Detroit and the number of full of flavor cafes and restaurants popping up in Detroit’s southwest side. As I thumbed through the 3-page piece I started to undergo a sense of enthusiasm and wanderlust. As a quasi native of Detroit (I grew up North of Detroit and lived in Detroit Metro for a brief time in the mid 2000’s) this article came as an amiable disclosure. I read about this extraordinary coffeehouse called Astro Coffee, an incredible BBQ joint called Slow’s Barbecue and a savvy cocktail bar who makes their own bitters called Sugar House, my curiosity was unquestionably peaked. Was this a shifting deluge for the Detroit we have all written off and considered befallen to ashes and dust with no resurgence in sight? Yup, you betcha!

After reading the article I began a mad mission to comprehend more about this urban resuscitation in the country’s most economically distraught city. I started to ascertain what others were saying about this revival to be true, Fast Company Magazine wrote an extraordinary article about Detroit echoing these same sentiments, then it was National Geographic’s Travel magazine’s article, a segment on NPR singing the same song, “Detroit is the next big boom-town and tech start up city”. Being the curious individual I am, I had to see this all for myself and come to my own conclusions. So headed home to Detroit, to see my family and allotted myself 3 days in Detroit.

My younger brother bought a house in the exceptionally sought after and now up and coming progressive Detroit neighborhood of Ferndale. Ferndale nestles neatly on the 9 mile and Woodward Avenue corridor. It is chock full of cafe’s, bars and boutiques, it is also considered Detroit’s gay neighborhood, unlike the Castro in San Francisco it definitely has more of a neighborhood charm and buzz unlike its condition 10 years ago. It has developed into something Royal Oak was only capable of accomplishing. The restaurants have certainly upped their ante to 4 star qualities with culinary genius and creativity. Considering its close proximity to 8 mile, the Ferndale neighborhood is humming with creative buzz with its cleanliness, renovated neighborhoods with reconditioned bungalows, donning crisp green lawns, with sheltering mighty great oaks peppering their landscape. My brother bought his house right before the financial crisis in 2008 for $42,000. He chose wisely as the current market has risen enormously in his favor. These are things you are not reading about in your Wall Street Journal’s and New York Times. This is the real Detroit, the one that is emergent and becoming a viable, habitable city once again.

After exploring Ferndale, I headed into downtown Detroit to capture some urban renewal photography. Mind you, it has only been a couple of years since I’ve been in downtown Detroit, as I am frequent lover and supporter of this misrepresented city (my favorite haunts: Magic Stick, DIA, Greektown’s, MotorLounge, Pegasus’ Tavern, St. Andrew’s Hall, City Club & DEMF).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI exited off I-75 onto Warren Ave. drove past the DIA (Detroit Institute of Art) and hooked a left onto Woodward Avenue, Detroit’s “main drag”; as I am driving I noticed people on the streets, walking, on bicycles, there are cafe’s, coffeehouses, bars lining the avenue, the shiny new Whole Foods with a gleaming Starbucks beacon directly adjacent to it. As I crossed into the threshold of downtown closing in on Comerica Park on my left and the Fox Theater on my right I couldn’t believe my own eyes as I was stunned by the dramatic physical transformation of the city; the trash-less, vagrant-less streets, refreshed boulevards, flower boxes, green space, clean parks, a City Square with an active fountain and outdoor performing arts stage, people walking on the street, sitting on park benches, riding bikes. Where there were once vacant skyscrapers, there are now gleaming restaurants, such as the 5 star Westin and it’s 5 star restaurant Roast accompanying it beautifully. A handsome

City Center Ernst and Young

City Center Ernst and Young

Ernst and Young modern glass building dons the city center with a pinnacle Hard Rock Cafe, city center fountain with flowers and green space, a well manicured park across the street coupled with the beacon of corporate hope, the Quicken Loans building which has recently taken up headquarters in the downtown Detroit and at the 1001 Woodward Avenue building a striking example of change, a sign that assert “Outsource To Detroit”! I turn right onto Michigan Avenue and head toward Corktown,Detroit’s Oldest Neighborhood home of the original Detroit Tigers Stadium (now reduced to rubble) and the oldest neighborhood in Detroit (est. 1834).

The boulevard is clean, trash less (unlike it’s state 4 years ago), I see Astro Coffee, Slow’s BBQ and of course one of my favorite Detroit icons, the vacant Central Station Train Station and Hotel, an architectural masterpiece

Central Station, Detroit

Central Station, Detroit

and also the center of the hotly debated topic of removal for years. I drove into the neighborhood of Corktown, feasting my eyes on clean neighborhoods and beautiful graffiti art and an artist painted building sign that says “Welcome to Corktown!”

This is not the Detroit I grew up in, and it most certainly is not the Detroit that is being nationally depicted. This is the NEW Detroit. This is far from anything that is being proclaimed in all of the downbeat media surrounding Detroit. However, the Fast Company, Food and Wine and NPR articles were all correct in their appraisal of Detroit, as it is clearly undergoing an impressive metamorphosis that needs to be shown to the world .

After snapping various pics of Corktown and the iconic train station, I opt to head to Brush Park, which at one time was one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Detroit, and became a ghost town over night following the 1967 riots. Since, Brush Park has been an iconic run down dangerous area, with vacant and abandoned brownstones taken over by vagrants and squatters. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOver time, gradually, the city has removed some of the broken down homes which has now opened up the opportunity for more green space and city lots for re-purposing and rebuilding. As I pulled onto Brush Street I saws something beyond belief, life. Someone was actually mowing their grass and the homes that are remaining were stunning, renovated back to their original state, complete with crisp manicured lawns, flowers coupled with restored original

Brush Park 2013

Brush Park 2013

coach houses and wrought iron fencing. This is the Detroit many do not get to see nor know exists, but I’ve seen it at its absolute worst and now during its renaissance. The proximity to downtown is marvelous because you can literally see Comerica Park and the Towering Renaissance Center towers. Just when I didn’t think it could get better I decide to peruse Cass St., the main drag of Wayne State University – Cass is on block west of Woodward Avenue. This neighborhood has always been suspect for years and not a place a young female photographer should be flashing her expensive camera. Cass Street was striking, amazingly well groomed and updated. Restaurants, pubs,

Cass St.

Cass St.

bakeries and cafes lined the street. Renovated brownstone apartment buildings gleamed, as did the neighborhoods they sit in. I pulled into a bakery off of Cass St. to chat with some locals. ON this street there was a bakery, dry cleaners and hair boutique as well as a newly built loft apartment building with brownstone apartment buildings being renovated across the street. I sat with one of the locals briefly and asked if he lived in the neighborhood as I imagined he did with his Detroit Tigers T-shirt and very large German Sheppard at his side. He said “yes I live in these lofts right here, my partner and I moved here 3 years ago wanting to be a part of this movement” I asked him about the cleanliness and lack of vagrancy in the city and how this was happening given the financial state of the city he said “the city has nothing to do with this, we the people of this movement are creating neighbor associations and cleaning up the city, making it livable again. When we have an issue with something that might involve the police we call Wayne State University Police Department who usually respond within 2-3 minutes; but we usually do not have many problems that warrant the police, they are few and far between.” He directed me to check out the Canfield Historical Home District just a block over and Mario’s Italian Restaurant, both Icons of Detroit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I drove to 2nd St. to check out Mario’s, I never even noticed this before it had been here since 1948 and as I drove through the historical district of West Canfield(Detroit’s first official historical district) the cobble stoned street led me to a beautifully unimaginable gem, reconditioned brownstone mansions, with once again, clean manicured green lawns, renovated coach houses with 100 year old oak trees lining the yards and streets, I felt as if I had stepped back into to time. It was a site, one that most will never see even Detroit natives, had someone not told them about it, it was a side of Detroit I had never experienced.

West Canfield Historical District

West Canfield Historical District

When I left Detroit I felt a sense of purpose as an entrepreneur. I began to feel like I wanted to be a part of this infectious movement, a movement that is being defined by the people of the city of Detroit, the people that are literally moving there to help rebuild this once incredible city. It is exciting to see Detroit progress into this urban revival that cannot only be defined by what is going on but more by what has already been set into motion, change, BIG change. When you hear about companies like Quicken Loans moving their offices to Detroit, you can’t believe it until you see why. “If you build it they will come”, and let me tell you, they are coming and they are coming from everywhere!

Le Nouveau Detroit is coming!