Category Archives: Communications

Optimize Your Branding to Increase Your Online Visibility

Optimize Your Branding to Increase Your Online Visibility

If your brand is unique, your message shouldn’t blend in

~ Kathryn Bechthold, CEO Alchemy Communications

For marketers it can be tricky making sure your name is out there, but you aren’t appearing too spammy or salesy by plastering your logo on every available surface. PR pros and marketing experts often overlook some very simple yet strategic ways to maximize your branding for increased online visibility.

3 Simple Tips for Visual Branding

1. Watermark your Visuals

Your visuals are shared across social media – that’s your goal! Imagine that clever meme you created going viral… but no one knows its your creation. Your visuals can be:

  • repinned on Pinterest
  • retweeted on Twitter
  • regrammed on Instagram
  • reposted on Facebook

Many times the identity of the original poster of a visual is lost in all the social sharing. To avoid getting your visual hijacked, always brand your visuals: add your brand logo, name, social links, hashtag or website to your visual. Don’t go crazy and add them all: just chose one strategy, and stick with it!

if your business is unique your message shouldn't blend in ~ Kathryn Bechthold

2. Create a Unique Brand Hashtag

Your event, brand, product or campaign can have a unique hashtag that you use across all social media channels, on your visuals, promotional materials, news releases: anywhere you want to promote your brand. And each time your social post is shared, the brand and your message grows!

TIP: Make your hashtag memorable. As CEO of Alchemy Communications I’m a #PurveyorOfPR  – check us out on Twitter!

3. In Images, Size Counts

You can design the very best infographic or image, and no one will ever see if it the visual isn’t the sized for that social media channel. Unfortunately each social channel has evolved to have uniques size criteria for your profile photo, cover image and posts. When you write a blog post, to share it across social media channels might require 5 or 6 different images to meet the social criteria. Unfortunately when it comes to visual content marketing, it is not one size fits all.

This optimal image size cheatsheet from Social Media Today will help you design images that are the exact size you need

optimal image size for visual marketing

For More Information on Visual Branding
Canva: 20 Actionable Tips to Build a Visual Brand Identity
HubSpot: How to Build a Strong Visual Brand on Social Media

author: KKathryn Bechthold CEO Alchemy Communicationsathryn Bechthold, Communications expert in Calgary, AB. Owner/CEO of Alchemy Communications Inc.

tweets with visuals have 150 percent more retweets - Buffer Blog

3 Easy Ways to Make Your Social Media More Visual

90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual

~ HubSpot

The data is conclusive: adding visuals to your social media posts increases the likelihood they will be read, clicked and shared.

There are many options to add visuals to your blog posts and social media:

  • infographics and charts: communicate data with images instead of words
  • video and animations
  • photos: stock photos or original photos,
  • memes: photos with text written over them
  • graphics and animations: drawings which may include text, movement or sound
  • slideshow: a series of images

There are some great free and paid tools and programs available to create awesome visual content for your blogs and social media, including:

  • Canva: freemium tool to design beautiful graphics, cover images, infographics and so much more
  • PicMonkey: freemium photo editing tool
  • Vine: free app for creating short looping 6-second videos
  • PowerPoint to turn presentations into slides
  • WordSwag app overlays text on your images
  • YouTube video editor lets you do some basic editing to your videos

3 Shortcuts to Add Visuals to Your Posts

Many tools offer features that are easy to learn and quick to use, and you can develop a basic visual in less than 15 minutes. But what if you don’t have 15 minutes: and you have to get a blog or social media post live now? Here are 3 super-fast, simple and professional shortcuts for adding visuals to your blogs and social media posts.

1. Insert a Quote

Quotes Are Highly Shareable

~ Social Media Examiner

Quotes attract attention and encourage sharing. Most blogging platforms offer a quote feature that highlights the quoted text and makes it stand out from rest of the text. WordPress has quote plugins that emphasize the quoted text: I used the WordPress text editor quote option as a H3 heading to make the above quote stand out: it took about 3 seconds.

2. Share a Statistic

Visual statistics are quickly understood and remembered. People love to share statistics. Create a visual statistic with DummyDesigner/Stats. The feature image for this blog took less than 30 seconds to make and shares an important visual marketing statistic: Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets (Buffer). Dummy Designer also quickly creates quotes which you can attach to your social media posts. This quote image took less than 30 seconds to make!

visual content marketing

3. Display a Screenshot

Feature your product, demonstrate a how-to or show information discovered online by taking a screenshot and then inserting that image into your post. You can use the screenshot as-is, or enhance it by overlaying text or adding design. It took me less than 60 seconds to take this screenshot, crop it, and draw the circle around the important text using Awesome Screenshot.

How to add visuals to social media posts

Visual marketing is a critical and effective element of your communications strategy. Not all images have to be elaborate or be a significant time investment. Have a few basic visual creation tools and visual marketing strategies in your PR arsenal to design and deliver visual marketing for your social media and blog posts.

TIP:  Infographics are an ideal way for small businesses and nonprofits to communicate complex data to their audience. Your data is translated into visual content with compelling images that your viewers can easily read, comprehend and share. Visual content is highly ranked on social media: a quality infographic can increase your SEO efforts and target traffic to your website.

Visit our portfolio and contact Alchemy PR to create an infographic that delivers your message: info@alchemycommunications.ca

For More Information on Adding Visuals to Your Social Media

HubSpot: A Handy Little Guide to Creating Visual Content for Social Media
Jeff Bullas: 10 Types of Visual Social Media Posts That Get Shared Like Crazy

author: KKathryn Bechthold CEO Alchemy Communicationsathryn Bechthold, Communications expert in Calgary, AB. Owner/CEO of Alchemy Communications Inc.

get more clicks with Twitter cards

Want More Clicks? Optimize Your Tweets with Twitter Cards

Twitter Cards allow you to add far more content to your title and description, as well as bigger images. This means more exposure, more space to get your message across, and increased clicks to your site.

~ Kim Garst, social media expert

Do you sometimes wonder if anyone is reading your Tweets? You spend time crafting the perfect clever 140 character post… then… nothing?

Do you want more clicks? Twitter cards are a free tool that allows users to interact with your business directly from Twitter: they look like an image or an ad, attached to your post. They make your post stand out in the Twitter stream, so users are more likely to read and click. Here’s an example of a post by Kim Garst using Twitter cards:

Twitter Card by Kim Garst

Twitter cards are your call to action: they can drive traffic to your website and grow your business, such as:

  • watch YouTube videos or SlideShare or Vines
  • sign up for an email
  • visit a website
  • read a blog post
  • download an app
  • display a full-size photo or graphic

Twitter has cards for 10 different types of user experiences including photos, apps, and videos. Statistics are proving that users like Twitter cards :

  • posts with website cards have +43% engagement.
  • lead generation cards get +42% engagement
  • tweets with rich media get +313% engagement and +52% more retweets

Twitter has cards for 10 different types of experiences including photos, apps, and videos. There are 3 different ways to install Twitter cards:

  1. add code to your website: see the Twitter cards developer page
  2. for website and lead generation cards go to the Twitter Ads Dashboard to make them (note: these are paid Twitter ads)
  3. if you have a WordPress.org site there are plugins to install Twitter cards, Twitter recommends 3 Twitter card plugins: Jetpack, JM Twitter Cards and WordPress SEO by Yoast

Once you’ve designed your Twitter card, you have to get Twitter’s approval to to use the Twitter card via their Card Validator (think of it like getting Facebook ad approval). Twitter says getting card approval could take up to a week, but most users says its usually less than a day to get approval.

You still need to design compelling posts so users want to click on your Twitter card. Once you’ve started using Twitter cards, you can measure your success with Twitter Card Analytics.

For More Information on Twitter Cards
Social Media Today: 8 Types of Twitter Cards Business are Using
Buffer: The Everything Guide to Twitter Cards

author: KKathryn Bechthold CEO Alchemy Communicationsathryn Bechthold, Communications expert in Calgary, AB. Owner/CEO of Alchemy Communications Inc,

email etiquette tips

Email Etiquette: Do You Offend?

an email written in a formal tone conveys that the sender is “intelligent,” “educated,” and “authoritative”; an email written in an informal tone conveys that the sender is “young,” “funny,” and “creative.”

~ MarketingProfs

Communicating via email and emailed newsletters is the most efficient and cost-effective way to share your message with your audience. More than 139.4 billion business emails are sent and received every day – taking the time to craft an email or newsletter that speaks to your audience is an important step to get your email opened and read.

Your emails are 100% customizable:

  • You can customize what the email says, the subject line, how long or short the email is, what day of the week and what time of day the email goes out, whether the email is all text or images and videos, what promotions offered, and your call to action.
  • You can send emails individually, or send group emails, using paid or free email and newsletter services.

HOW you talk to your readers in your emails is just as important as what you say – research of 1200 respondents by BuzzStream clearly indicates that age, sex and education determine what voice and tone your readers prefer, and how they respond to your email. Basic business email etiquette helps ensure your message is received the way you intended – and that you don’t accidentally offend or alienate your readers.

Tone and voice in email impacts how the writer connects – or doesn’t connect – with readers:

Tone is the writer’s attitude or emotion: formal, confident, angry, excited, humorous

Voice is the writer’s personality or style: vocabulary, phrasing

Business Email Etiquette Facts from BuzzStream

          • 60% –> brevity is preferable
          • 48% –> wordiness is unacceptable
          • 88% –> have rewritten emails to sound more intelligent
          • >50% –> humor is acceptable
          • 25% –> advanced vocabulary is unacceptable
          • 78% –> email etiquette impacts their decision to engage
          • 70% –> excessive punctuation is unacceptable
          • >35 –> want to be perceived as authentic
          • <35 –> want to be perceived as educated
          • 40% –> aged 18 – 24 find slang ‘totally unacceptable’

Its not just what you say in emails, its how you say it. Know your audience demographics, and choose the tone and voice for your emails that speak to your audience. Don’t just guess: A/B testing your emails is an efficient way to evaluate what tone and voice your audience responds to.

For More Information on Email Communications
BuzzStream: Email Effect – What Your Emails Say About You
MarketingAutomations: What Does Your Email Writing Style Say About You?

Attainable Homes Calgary

Portfolio Spotlight: Attainable Homes Calgary

AttainableHomesCalgaryCorporationAttainable Homes Calgary Corporation was created to help more Calgarians move from renting their home to home ownership. Attainable Homes is a nonprofit organization and wholly owned subsidiary of The City of Calgary that offers below market housing and is self-funded through a shared equity model so that a portion of the equity in each home will come back to the program upon sale. AHCC has made home ownership possible for middle-class Calgarians with a business strategy that is based on

√ attractive home prices

√ forgivable equity loans

√ a shared appreciation plan

Attainable Homes contracted Alchemy Communications Inc to create their 2014 Annual Report and a video highlighting their achievements in 2014. This video debuted at their annual City Council meeting and was distributed across various social media platforms.

The annual report theme is Helping Hardworking Calgarians Secure Their Own Homes in Our City and highlights Attainable Homes Calgary’s 2014 achievements:Attainable Homes Annual Report

  • Attainable Home sales were up 46% in 2014
  • Passed milestone of 500 homes sold through AHCC
  • Westbury Park at West Springs fully constructed and occupied
  • Launched sales at 4 new developments
    • Mount Pleasant 1740
    • Evanston Square
    • Skymills
    • 51 Oak
  • 18 units were resold generating $422,736.05
  • Surveys of program participants on their satisfaction level demonstrate 95% of participants are satisfied with ACHH services

Alchemy is proud to work with Attainable Homes and support their mission to make home ownership possible for middle-class Calgarians.

Contact Attainable Homes Calgary

 

internal communications strategies for businesses

Employee Communication: Manage the Number of Meetings You Attend

You can radically reduce the number of meetings you attend and increase the amount of work that gets done.

~ Harvard Business Review

“Do you really need to hold that meeting?” asks Elizabeth Grace Saunders, author of How to Invest Your Time Like Money.

Employee communication is essential for the workplace to operate smoothly and to develop employee engagement. For any organization larger than 2 people, inevitably the question arises: should we waste time on meetings? As a business grows and changes, internal communication needs become greater while available time lessens. For businesses big and small, for-profit and non-profit, if and how to schedule meetings is an important part of growing your business. Typically, meetings are scheduled when someone in a leadership role needs to:

  • share information
  • solicit input and feedback
  • brainstorm

Technology has dramatically and forever changed the ways organizations can conduct effective meetings.

5 basic ways to conduct a meeting:

1. Texting

Group texts are a simple and efficient way to communicate information to a group of people and solicit input that everyone can read. Be sure that all people invited to a group text meeting have a smart phone and can both read and post to the group. Text meetings are most efficient for very short meetings with very precise topics: people can easily get lost and confused by an ongoing text meeting.

2. Email

Email meetings are a good way to conduct a short meeting when all participants cannot  participate at the same time. By using the Reply All feature, all employees on the mail chain can participate in the conversation, regardless of their location or time zone.

3. Phone Calls

Phone call meetings are an effective way to get everyone together at the same time to hear the same information and solicit input. Phone meetings can cause problems when participants are multi-tasking (ie not paying attention); and it can be difficult to know who is speaking, or when it is time to speak without interrupting another participant.

4. Video Calls

Skype, group Face-Time, Hang-Outs and other group voice call tools make it easy to have group meetings. Seeing participants on a video conference call can build relationships and cutdown on multi-tasking. Poor WiFi signals can be frustrating when participants are on the road.

5. Face-to-Face Meetings

Meetings conducted in person are valued and viewed as important if face-to-face meetings are a part of your overall meeting strategy, not your only type of meeting. When your business is small and everyone works at the same location and during the same hours, day in and day out, it can be easy and efficient to organize a weekly and even daily team update.

Whether your meeting is in person, or via text, make sure your meeting is effective.

Tips for Conducting a Meeting

1. Make sure to invite the right people: Only invite attendees who have a specific role in the meeting topic, not everyone who could be impacted by the topic.

2. Set and keep a meeting time frame: Scheduling a meeting from 2-2:30pm is ineffective if most of the participants don’t arrive until 2:10pm, and the meeting drags on to 3pm. Set and keep meeting time limits.

3. Set an agenda: Every meeting should have a clearly communicated purpose. Everyone attending should know why they’re attending, and arrive prepared to listen and to contribute.

4. Identify a meeting manager: For every meeting someone must be identified to manage the meeting, including keeping everyone on topic and keeping track of the time.

5, Follow-up: After the meeting, provide attendees with written updates and outcomes as a result of the meeting.

Employee communication is a critical part of building a successful organization and developing a committed workforce. Developing a meeting plan is an important part of your internal communications strategy.

For More Information on Conducting Productive Meetings:
Forbes: Why Face-to-Face Meetings are So Important
SmallBizTrends: Why Face-to-Face Meeting Still Matter