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5 Quick Tips – Improve Your Google Adwords Results

5 Quick Tips – Improve Your Google Adwords Results

Google Adwords can be a great asset in growing your business and results can be achieved in the shorter term.

If a person is searching Google, they have taken action to search for something specific which means your ad is being delivered to an interested audience.   Another key benefit of Adwords is that you only pay when someone clicks (Pay-per-click – PPC) on your ad so you are paying for tangible results.

Check out some Quick Tips that will help you make the best use of your Adwords budget.

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7 DIY Tips to Enhance Your Social Media Images For Business

7 DIY Tips to Enhance Your Social Media Images For Business

Social media images are not easy to get right. But that’s not an excuse for poor visuals!  If building a customer base by way of social media marketing is part of your business strategy then you absolutely must master the art of engaging the eye online.

A picture tells a thousand words. This has never been truer than when it comes to social media.  In today’s fast paced digital world we’re lucky to have a customer scan our social media posts let alone read them. You have a split second to capture someone’s attention so your image needs to be good. And I mean really good!

There are 3 key ways to get good social media images: Professional photography, stock images and DIY. There are pros and cons to each, but for many business owners it simply comes down to cost. DIY is often the only realistic long-term option available to us. So we need to figure out how to crack the art of eye-catching social posts.

If you haven’t got ‘the eye’ get ‘the head !  

If you’re like me then you’re nowhere close to being a talented photographer or graphic designer. In Ireland we talk about people who ‘have an eye for it’ – I’m not one of them! However I do believe that you can develop a bit of a ‘head for it’ if you simply learn a few social media tricks that can enhance your images.

With that in mind I’m going to share some basic social media image tips and advice with you. Not all of these will be directly relevant to your product or service industry, but guaranteed you’ll find some actionable take-aways.

So let’s get started

 

1. Always accompany a social media post with an image (even on Twitter)

This is a bit of a precursor to the rest of my tips which are about enhancing social media images. However, I just want to stress the point from the outset that using visuals on social media is ESSENTIAL.

Don’t bother with text-only posts -they’ve been shown to get far less engagement. And if you’re not attaching an image make sure you are attaching something else visual like videos, infographics, memes or boomerang videos

 

2. Quality Control

Only use high quality, high resolution images.  Pixilated or blurry photographs are a No-No.

Irregardless of your other brand personality traits, all businesses need to appear professional. Low quality images do not send that message. So be hard on yourself when it comes to selecting images for your business social media posts.

The ‘try the other shoe social media approach’ can help. It’s easy. Take off your business owner or manager hat and examine your photograph or image as if you’re just a regular Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest or Twitter (or other) user.  Would you be hitting the like button or wrinkling your nose and moving swiftly along. 

 

3. Find the light!

When taking photographs on your mobile – or, even better, with an SLR digital camera – you need to think about your light. Granted, this is easier said than done when it comes to capturing in the moment situations. However, staged images such as those of people, premises or products can be planned.  

Natural light is 100% always your best option. Take your products outdoors to shoot them if you can. If it is a building or fixed structure you are photographing think about the time of day, or take photos at different times of the day to see when the light is best.

If you are taking a photograph indoors try and position it to receive natural light. If this is not possible then under a good source of artificial light. It can also help to shine a light from the side to backlight or give extra illumination.

Don’t mix natural and artificial light.  This is probably the most basic tip you will get, but also the most important. Once you’ve seen the light you’ll never go back!  

 

4. Gain some photo editing skills

Don’t flinch! Photo editing is not just for professionals or techies. Learning some basic editing skills such as cropping, colour enhancing and filters can improve your images no end.  

Your desktop computer will have some kind of inbuilt software that will help you with things like resizing, cropping, adding text and so on. There are also premium products like Photoshop which everyone has heard of and is industry standard for professionals. For something between these two levels I am personally a fan of Pixlr.  It’s a free online app that offers a fairly sophisticated editing suite.  Getting to grips with it can be a little frustrating to start with. Like everything in life, however, the more you do of it the easier it gets. So stick with it and when you hit a block go straight to YouTube!  

 

5. It’s not all about photos.  

Graphic images also work well on social media. Twitter cards and infographics are great for sharing knowledge in a visually appealing way. Indeed, graphics can be used to jazz up text-based information on Facebook for example sharing a quote or seasonal message.

You can also pair graphics with photos to great effect.

This may sound complicated to you, but there are fantastic applications out there that are specially designed to help people create shareable social media images. My favourite is the freemium site Canva.  It’s foolproof and dare I say it, a lot of fun!  

6. Be consistent

Akin to all areas of business communication it is vital to maintain a clear and consistent brand identity on social media. This means setting brand rules and sticking to them.

Your Instagram profile or ‘collage’ is a really good example of why brand consistency is so important. Customers do not always see your social media post one at a time. They will click through to view your profile as a whole. Your Instagram posts therefore need to work together as part of an overall brand story.  

Make sure your colour scheme reflects your brand and is harmonious across your posts.  For example, a children’s entertainment company can work with vibrant primary colours like red, blue and yellow whereas a company that manufactures outdoor clothing may want a more natural earthy palette. Imagine if the outdoor clothing company randomly added a bright yellow image to its Instagram or Facebook account. It would stand out like a sore thumb and confuse the brand altogether.

The same goes for typography.  Pick a font family and stick to it, and be consistent with the size of the font you use when adding text to images.  

Other things to look out for are the placement and size of your logo if/when you add it to an image. Generally, you will also have rules about what you depict in your social media posts which will relate back to your overall brand vision.  

The important thing to remember is that social media provides an outlet for you to build brand awareness. By being consistent with your visuals you’ll develop a pattern which in turn elicits brand recognition and familiarity with your customers. Ultimately you want a customer to see a stand alone social media image of yours and for them to say ‘that looks like it’s from …(Your Business)’.

7.Learn about  Design Elements

If you’re committed to improving your social media images with tips 1 through 6 then you’re well on the way to eye-catching social media success. In fact, I would go as far as saying you’ve graduated and can officially call yourself a jack of the trade!  

If you want to raise it up a notch to Master level the next step is to take on board a little education about design elements. I’m not telling you to go off and do a graphic design degree or even a course – what business owner has the time for that!  But it’s worthwhile doing some tip of the iceberg reading on design to learn about the various elements within an image you should consider – things like colour, contrast, weight, shapes, lines, pattern, negative space and so on.  Honestly, this is one of those times when you really can put theory into practice!  

If you read nothing else then this design tips article from Buffer Social will  give you a quick lesson.  

 

Time to get cracking!

Enough of these words! Let’s see some images! Now that you’ve got a few DIY tips for your tool belt you it’s time to get cracking on making visible improvements to your social media. I’d love to see how you get on so feel free to connect with my social media channels and I’ll be sure to swing by yours to take a look.

In the meantime if you have any specific questions relating to social media, content or digital marketing then please leave a comment or drop me a mail. I’m always happy to hear from readers and find out what you want to know so I an address it here on the blog.

 

Sinead Gillett

Creative Director

What is an SSL Certificate and Why Does Your Business Website Need One?

What is an SSL Certificate and Why Does Your Business Website Need One?

What is an SSL Certificate and Why Does Your Business Website Need One?

In 2017 all business websites should have an SSL Certificate. If you’re not responsible for the upkeep of your website you may not be very familiar with this term.  However, as an internet user, you’ll be familiar with the green padlock symbol that you see next to website URLs in your browser window. The green padlock signifies that the website you are visiting is secure. That is essentially what an SSL certificate does.

It used to be the case that only e-commerce websites that took online payments needed an SSL certificate. Not any more. Websites that do not show an SSL certificate now display a warning to their visitors to say that the website is not secure. And that’s not good for business!  

As a business owner or manager you need to understand what an SSL cert is, why you need it and how you can get one. The following FAQs will help you get to grips with SSL certificates in a matter of minutes. After reading you’ll know what steps to take next.  You could even have an SSL certificate on your website by the end of the day.

What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. Its purpose is to create a secure (encrypted) link between your visitor’s internet browser and your website server.  What this means is that the data shared between your visitor’s browser and your server remains secure.  It confirms for the user that they are connecting with your real website and not a fraudulent website.   

Why do you need an SSL Certificate?

  • If you don’t have an SSL Certificate the data on your website is vulnerable to hacking. Clearly not good for business!
  • Displaying an SSL Certificate establishes your status as a reputable business and engenders trust in your customers.
  • SSL Certificates also improve Search Engine Optimisation. Google wants all businesses to have SSL Certs. As the SEO game goes –  Play by Google’s rules and your search engine ranking will be rewarded!
  • Websites with SSL Certificates load quicker. This is good news for user experience and also gives an additional boost to your SEO, since Google favours fast-loading times.

What is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS?

You may have noticed that some websites begin with HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) and others start with HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure).  HTTP is the unsecure connection (without SSL) and HTTPS is the secure connection (with SSL).

HTTPS is what you want for your business because it tells your customers your site is secure.  The way you get this is by adding an SSL certificate.

Why do I need to get an SSL Certificate sooner rather than later?

As I mentioned above, SSL Certificates were previously only essential for ecommerce sites or sites where sensitive information such as credit card details were being shared.  However, this all changed in January 2017 when Google began implementing a gradual plan to mark all http sites as “Not Secure”.

Since January 2017, Google displays your HTTP site as non secure if the website has credit card or password forms.   
The next step in the plan for HTTP websites is being implemented in October 2017 when Google are adding two more “Not Secure” situations:

  1. When a  user enters any data.
  2. When users browse in Incognito mode.

Eventually Google will simply show “Not Secure” for all HTTP websites.

So, now is the time to get your SSL certificate sorted.

How do I get an SSL certificate?

There are different levels and types of SSL Certificates.  Although some websites can obtain free SSL certs, others will need to purchase theirs with prices ranging depending on your website’s needs.  In general, it is a fairly inexpensive one time cost that is far outweighed by its benefits.

SSL certificates can be purchased from your hosting provider or an independent provider.  

How do I add an SSL certificate to my website?  

If you have a web developer or web design company who looks after your business website then they will be able to purchase and install your SSL certificate for you.

Another option is to get in touch with your hosting provider and see if they will sell and install the SSL cert for you.

Alternatively, if you look after our own website then SSL DIY is also possible and fairly quick and easy to do. You’ll find lots of guides specific to your website platform online.  

Thank You!  

So there you have it – everything you need to know about SSL certificates in a matter of minutes!  So now you know what they’re all about you can go ahead and get one for your website and reap the benefits!

If you have any questions relating to SSL certificates or other web development enquiries please feel free to leave a comment below. I am always happy to hear from readers and on the look-out for new relevant topics!  

 

Orla Veale

Commercial Director

What Does GDPR Mean for My Business?

What Does GDPR Mean for My Business?

You may have heard the term ‘General Data Protection Regulations’ or ‘GDPR’ around recently. You may even be vaguely aware that it comes into effect on the 25th of May 2018. But what exactly is the GDPR and what does it mean for your small/medium sized business?

In this post I want to break down the formal legislative speak and get to the heart of what really matters – the impact that GDPR will have on your business operation. These FAQs will help you get to grips with what’s coming down the line.   

So, first things first: What is the GDPR?

GDPR will strengthen and consolidate data protection rights within the EU. The same laws regarding the collection, storage and usage of personal information  will now apply in all member states.

The GDPR legislation compels companies across the EU to enforce stringent data protection processes.

What are the benefits of these Global Data Protection Regulations?

There are two key objectives underpinning the GDPR.

  1. GDPR gives residents back control of their personal information.
  2. GDPR simplifies the regulatory environment for international business in the EU.  

The benefit to consumers is that they will have greater control over their personal information and data.  Privacy and personal data protection is something we can all understand the benefit of from our own individual perspective.  

From a business point of view there has been some criticisms over the strictness of the new GDPR. However, it will yield some benefits for exporting Irish SMEs. Instead of having 28 different data protection laws in the EU, there will now be 1 comprehensive rule applied across the board. Even post-Brexit UK is expected to comply with the GDPR. This should help Irish exporters to cut costs and red tape within the EU.  Indeed it may help smaller exporters to break into new markets.

Does GDPR apply to my SME?

The simple answer is Yes. The new regulations apply to ALL organisations including SMEs in Ireland.  It doesn’t matter how small your business is, you need to comply with GDPR. There will be nowhere to hide for businesses who are wilfully negligent with consumers’ private data. What’s more, violations will be subject to fines! Eeeek!  

The good news, however, is that SMEs are granted some exemptions. Quite rightly, the Global Data Protection Regulations recognises that smaller businesses need different treatment than larger corporations and public organisations (under Article 30).

If your business has fewer than 250 employees and/or does not process large quantities of personal sensitive information you will be eligible for these exemptions.

What are the GDPR exemptions for SMEs?

  • Your SME won’t have to appoint a dedicated Data Protection Officer.
  • You don’t need to keep formal records of how you process data
  • You won’t be required to report “minor” data breaches if they do not pose a risk to the rights and freedoms of the individual concerned.

This DOES NOT mean that your SME is off the hook from the GDPR!

These exemptions recognise the operational capacity of SMEs.  They are by no means a free pass however! Your business is still bound by the legislation of the General Data Protection Regulations.  So, it’s important that you understand the parameters of data protection and comply with the general terms of the new regulations.

At a very basic level you need to be mindful of your businesses’ ‘data subjects’ and their rights, and to understand the key changes being brought in with the GDPR in 2018.

What are ‘data subjects’?

Data Subjects are the people whose information we collect, store and use.

We all take information from our customers –  names, contact details, personal or property info, payment methods and so on.  This can be done on paper, by physically filling out a form, or by digital input, which is now the norm. Most businesses will keep some kind of record of individual transactions and customer relationships.

Of course, we don’t just hold data about our customers. There are other types of ‘data subjects’. Employee records include lots of personal information that may be sensitive.  We also store and use data about our website users, suppliers and partners.

This is perfectly OK and indeed necessary. The General Data Protection Regulations are simply being put in place to ensure that all businesses, big and small, are doing the right thing when it comes to data protection.

So, what are the key changes taking place under the GDPR?

Accountability

A larger emphasis is being placed on accountability which means being able to evidence your organisation’s compliance.

Breach Notification

A mandatory breach notification process will be introduced. This requires businesses to notify regulators of most personal data breaches within 72 hours.  Data subjects must also be informed of high risk breaches.

As I mentioned above, your SME may be exempt from this if the data breach is “minor”.

Consent and Privacy Notices

Businesses must comply with stricter consent processes when obtaining information from their users/customers.

GDPR is a world leading data protection step towards giving consumers back their digital rights. This means consumers have to consent to the use of their data. Furthermore, they can withdraw that consent or request to see the data your business has on them. 

The content you’re required to include in your privacy notice is going to change. It is important to make sure that your website privacy page and the privacy notice you include on customer forms or contracts is up to date with the new regulation.

What are the potential penalties if my business doesn’t comply with the GDPR?

Don’t be complacent and think that SMEs aren’t eligible for fines. If you don’t comply with GDPR – You Are!

The maximum sanction for non-compliance with GDPR is a fine of €20,000,000 or 4% of gross worldwide annual turnover, whichever is the greater. Scary stuff!

What should i do now?

Don’t Panic, BUT DO ACT.

Today is the day to take action and begin preparing for the GDPR! For some businesses it may simply involve small tweaks to your spreadsheet databases and consent forms. Others may need a rehaul of their data collection and storage systems.

You need to engage with your IT person or department on this to make sure you are covering all bases set down by the GDPR.

The Data Protection Commissioner in Ireland has resources and guides available at the dedicated website GDPR & You – Click here to visit. 

The Information Commissioner’s Office in the UK have an excellent 12 step guide and checklist available here.

I hope you found this article useful. Sign-up to our newsletter to stay informed about all things you need to know about the digital world to help your business grow and prosper!

 

Disclaimer

The content of this web page is a commentary on the GDPR. This content is provided for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice or to determine how GDPR might apply to you and your organisation.  We encourage you to work with a legally qualified professional to discuss GDPR, how it applies specifically to your orga

Orla Veale

Commercial Director