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Infographics

Let’s talk infographics, those jazzy visuals that get you hyped when reading an article or a blog, when trunddling the net they catch your eye and suck you into content. Are they made by incredible designers whose super human knowledge of Photoshop can’t be replicated? No, well, sometimes. But for most content creators there are easier, quicker tools now available that require no technical know how. I tried and tested a few of them, here’s what I found.

  1. Canva

Easy set up with a whole host of templates and stock images, no manual needed with a simple space to operate. Once you’ve chosen the type of infographic you want to make you’ll go through to more options of customization, such as layers, images, lines, illustrations etc:

First off I made a simple presentation graphic and chose to use a back template + chart + 3x text boxes, which all together took less than 5 mins. 

Looks a little 90’s power point doesn’t it? let’s try one more. This time I did a poster for a fictional restaurant:

You can save your file as a JPG, PNG (standard or advanced) and PDF.

Overview: I really like Canva and can see why the internet has great things to say about it, positioning was a little fiddly at times but fine if you zoom in. The default colours are limited but you can pay for more choice. Considering it’s free you get a huge amount of content and functionality for nothing. Definitely will be using in the future!

      2. Piktochart 

Overview: Watch the video on going through to the start up page, it tells you everything you need to know. I immediately really liked Piktochart because you can vector and align things really easily on the document, which for someone who likes symmetry is right up my street. It was easy to move, add things and edit the doc.

Video is here

The interface is easy to navigate, it also has a drag and drop system with each element editable. I quickly mocked up an infographic for a presentation/ corporate comms, I made this in about 5 minutes:

Note: all the data/ content in this is made up!

Comparison: Piktochart definitely has more dynamic editing controls that are easy and simple to use but it lacks the variety of templates, images and other addables offered by Canva. There are more colour schemes though than Canva, which I liked personally as I could coordinate the above easily, unlike Canva everything available is editable, including colour, size and font.

3. Venngage

Initially I was impressed with Venngage as it incorporates the functionality and variety of choice of Piktochart and Canva but unlike them it is very limited unless you sign up for a monthly subscription, you can make an infographic and share it on social media for free but you can’t export it. From what I can see there’s a great range of tools and templates to use and the subscription isn’t too pricey ($19 a month). I didn’t sign up so screen capped the body of an IG on the creative process below:

All in all if I was going to sign up to one I would either go with Venngage or Piktochart, purely because the functionality worked better and the IG’s produced were clean, easy to create and looked more like the kind of content that would make an impact. I would still go back to Canva for flyers and posters though as I think they have a great variety of templates for those.

I’ll be exploring more IG software and tools soon so stay tuned!

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Pretty standard

An agile innovator recently said to me “beware of standardization” and this got me thinking about it a lot. There are two sides to this coin, on one side standardizing a process can lead to better productivity, quality and reduction of costs and on the other it can cut off the flow of creativity and damage motivation, this being due to the repetition of the standards in place.

A lot of people wouldn’t question the standardization of something, why? how does this help me? how does this help the business? and what impact will this have on my working environment/ culture?

My preference is not to standardize things but I do appreciate the ability to uniform a task for benefits that spread across the business, such as administrative forms and templates. But when it comes to a task such as copy writing I draw the line. A lot of publishers have copy writing guidelines to follow for book blurbs, they sounds something like this:

‘Three lines that introduce the text and it’s overview, four lines of key sales handles and 1 line about the author’

And so tap tap tap, you are done. Is this content marketing genius? As, you are writing the blurb set out by editorial/ marketing standards, so, it must get a good return on sales, right?

Doubtful. Your objective and focus becomes meeting the guidelines, not to come up with something new and refreshing via a different angle, research or strategy. You are simply producing the same standardized text that most likely bores the hell out of your market. But that’s what they’re used to, so that’s what they’re getting. 2017 is seeing a major shift in content roles and marketing, smart marketing doesn’t have to mean originality every time but does mean thinking outside the box and the current standards of your tasks and processes you have already in place. When standardizing something look at the macro implications it might have, not just the immediate return for yourself as an individual or your team.

Crazy Eggs and Typeform

If you’re in a role where market research plays a chess piece then these two nifty pieces of software are for you.

Crazy Eggs

This is a new and easy way to get an overview of your sites click-throughs, they offer a variety of views and subscriptions including two free trials.

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Typeform:

Allows you to build your own market research tools, which you can do from scratch or via one of their templates. A few of the templates they offer are:

  • Surveys
  • Questionnaires
  • Registration forms
  • Lead generation forms
  • Polls, Quiz’s and feedback

When building you’ll have a variety of options that can easily be dragged and dropped into place. They layout is clean and super user friendly (see below).

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Have fun!

Prolific content

How do you avoid regurgitating content? People say when your competitor zigs you must zag. But what if a new idea or an innovation light bulb sparks a great opportunity for new business or content but somebody has gotten there first? As is usually the case. Is it back to the drawing board? To do so wouldn’t be congruent with creative belief and would leave a lot of people twiddling their thumbs. Peoples daily lives seem to masticate the same content over and over with little stimulative difference in its reception and impact. Some would argue that getting your entertainment fix from Facebook is just the same as a Buzzfeed list, no? and so media vies for our attention in a black hole of content.

I’d never encourage trying to do the same thing with only a change in price as an incentive to your customers. When approaching any new idea think, from a content strategy point of view, how does it align with your business goals and mission and secondly how, from a content marketing point of view, does it bring value to and engage with your audience/ customers? Innovation plays a big part when changing/ designing a product or service. (see my other post on innovation and its language).

The deeper the knowledge you have of your audience the better you’ll identify an angle that will fit for both of the above. The key to creating engaging content is creating something of value to your audience that is delivered where, when and how they want to engage with it.

Positive vibes on blue monday

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SEO hats

So you want a fancy SEO top hat? LETS DO THIS.

In the SEO sphere there are two types of hats, good ones- white hats and black hats, bad ones. The first are legal, organic, content-driven methods that are welcomed by the web while the other are hacks, illegal maneuvers and aggressive farming tactics to increase numbers. The latter is obviously to be avoided. So here’s an outline of both so you know what to steer clear of.

The DSIM made this awesome IG:

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Strategy clouds

When people say strategy, what do they really mean? Some take it as plan of action, others a list of goals or achievements or a new objective for the business. In reality it should incorporate all of these things and much more.

A strategy:

  • Sets goals
  • Analyses processes
  • Identifies problems
  • Proposes solutions
  • Sets out actions for change
  • Is supported by evidence and data

Your strategy shouldn’t just be a fancy worded new mantra for the company, packed with business jargon and 0% competency or coherence.

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When creating content strategies there are a lot of things to consider, such as:

  • What is our editorial mission statement, do we need to make one?
  • What do I want to achieve?
  • What’s my contents angle?
  • Who are my target market? what are its current, past and potential future dynamics?
  • Who are the key stakeholders?
  • Whats the budget and where is it coming from? How does this fit with the companies financial plan, forecast and other current strategies?
  • How will this affect my list, division and the business as a whole?
  • What can analytics and sales data tell me?
  • Is there enough evidence to a) support my strategy and b) achieve it?
  • What is a realistic timeline and frequency?
  • How can I break it down into steps and mile stones?

This is just a catalyst to get your editorial brain kicking.  Content strategy goes hand in hand with content marketing. Like any business model there are countless content marketing models, so when formulating a content strategy these should also be taken into consideration.

Joe Pulizzi from the Content Marketing Institute does a great keynote, watchable here.

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