4 Graphic Tools for Social Media

4 Graphic Tools for Social Media

In this post we will discuss 4 graphic tools for social media

If you are into Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or any social network  pulling ahead to build and keep a fluid  relationship with your audience, to stand out from an overpopulated feed may be difficult.

But a good banner is a good starting point to catch your followers’ eye, and in this post we will talk about 4 graphics tools for social media that can help for a good graphic design and do not require any kind of previous design knowledge.

With this software you do not depend on a freelancer or external person because - once you get the feel - you will spend only 5 minutes building a wonderful image.

Of course, these are not intended to replace a professional designer, but they are handy for daily posts and graphics.

All are also suitable for other formats too (eBooks covers, blog posts, twitch banners, etc.) and some provide infographic templates as well.

Snappa:

Snappa focuses on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitch, YouTube and Soundcloud, blog images, eBook covers, custom templates, and infographics.

All templates available in this graphic tool are pre-made with the right resolution, and this is a big time saving advantage because once the template is selected, you know that it will be saved with the correct sizing and there is no further need for any post processing.

snappa-pic

Using Snappa is easy and you will be creating a fancy image after a few minutes, but in case you need there are tutorial videos to help.

This app works well with background images and text overlays and is way simpler than Adobe family of products.

The software is intuitive, and things are where you look for them. It offers a cloud-based platform including 3,000,000+ hi res royalty free photos and 100,000+ graphics to choose from, but you can upload your own images and make your custom template starting from scratch.

There is a huge number of fonts to choose, but in case you do not find the right one or your branding uses a special one, you can upload your own.

Available shapes are somehow limited and do not allow for coloring.

The interface uses a drag-and-drop menu and here what you see is what you get. The learning curve is really smooth and once you are ready with your design it can be saved and/or downloaded.

Snappa allows posting directly on Facebook and Twitter, useful for those posting a lot on a regular basis.

Snappa Pricing:

Snappa offers up to three downloads free per month with no watermark and the whole set of images and templates are available (this is an interesting difference from other similar apps), then you must spend $10 per month for unlimited graphics.

 

Canva:

Canva is perhaps the most used design platform for custom graphics.

With this software you can create social media design, banners, posters, presentations, book covers, business cards, resumes and more.

Templates are organized in lots of categories: marketing, education, Facebook posts, Facebook  presentations, and many more.

A key point of Canva is that the free plan has lots of options, and this satisfies the needs of many casual users.

Canva has 8,000+ templates, 100+ design and thousands of free photos. As with many other apps, once you register there is a left sided dashboard where to choose images, forms, texts and more in a drop and drag style.

Once you choose a template, insert your texts and graphics in a simple manner. As many other apps in this segment, you can upload your own images to work with.

But as some templates and shapes are not free, you must navigate to the one you choose and check its availability for free members, and this is not straightforward at all.

Templates are pre-formatted to the right resolution, but for an unknown reason this data is not available on the screen. And keep in mind that without a paid subscription you cannot resize your design, so better check it twice before starting although in most cases a posterior external image processing can do the trick.

Some features are not for beginners, although this graphic tool offers several tutorials for a better understanding for paid and free members. This is somehow compensated by the huge number of graphical items, and almost endless possibilities.

There are plenty of integrations available and you can post right on your social media platform from Canva.

Canva offers a bunch of premium features that make this app unique.

canva-pic

You can turn designs into GIFs and videos, upload your own fonts, resizing, a brand kit (where all of your designs, logos and fonts are available for easy access) and the ability to save designs in PNG format.

This software is in a permanent evolution and is continuously adding more and more features, but the amount of options may turn it clunky sometimes.

Canva Pricing:

Canva has a free plan, and the paid plan starts at $9.95/mo. billed yearly.

 

 

Adobe Spark:

Adobe Spark makes it easy to create social media graphics, videos and single-page websites. Since it comes with web and mobile version makes a difference from other similar software.

Adobe shows a fresh approach here with a beginners friendly product that offers a smooth learning curve that stands out from what we are used to know from this company; top level products like InDesign and Photoshop aimed at professional users and with tons of high-end features.

adobe-spark-pic

This product has three main sections:

Adobe Spark Post:

This allows to create beautiful designs for social media, blog post images, banners, brochures and more.

There are hundreds of high-quality free photos to choose and you can upload your own.

Adobe Spark Video:

A tool to create videos for Facebook Ads, promo videos, sales videos and more. Pick up a provided template or start from scratch with your own, add a voice over and text.

Since Adobe provides its own hosting, you can share videos directly from the app ( or download in case you need them)

A downside of videos is the resolution limited to 720 px, and on some screens and devices this may not be the best option. Also, video length is limited to 30 seconds, although this may suffice for most needs.

Adobe Spark Page:

This graphic tool allows to create a single page site with beautiful design, with a mix of photos, videos, and animations. Web pages are responsive, which means they do not lose functionality when viewed on mobile devices.

There are thousands of photos to choose, and Spark also integrates with Google Photos, Dropbox, and Adobe Creative Cloud.

Hosting is free and included into this product, but please note that you cannot use your own domain and only get a link to share your page with an Adobe proprietary domain url.

Although you can embed this webpage in another website, this functionality is quite limited and not intended to replace a full website builder.

Adobe Spark Pricing:

Adobe offers three plans, free and two paid options. In the free plan there is a fixed Adobe watermark added to your content, which may be removed when you upgrade to a paid plan and paid plans start at $9.79/mo.

Stencil:

This is a web-based tool intended to create social media and graphic images for absolute beginners with a focus on speed and simplicity. This easy and intuitive tool also offers a chrome browser extension for better integration.

stencil-pic

Here you can find 1,000,000+ images and 1,000,000+ icons and illustrations royalty free. This is a valuable feature since you need not look for photos, images or icons outside the platform which is a time-consuming task and even frustrating sometimes.

Stencil also includes over 600 templates and thousands of Google fonts, although you can upload your own.

This tool works on a drag-and-drop basis like many others in this segment and provides a clear interface because is not intended to be a full featured design suite but a social media quick and efficient image creator.

A unique recently added feature is “Quotes” where you can search 100,000+ quotes to add some emotional touch to your social media.

Stencil Pricing:

Stencil offers a free plan and two paid plans. To begin with, the free plan allows the user to save up to 10 images per month and is limited in photos and icons availability but is a good starting point to test this software.

In the free plan a lock icon appears on the right down corner when you chose an unavailable icon in the free plan, this is annoying if you have just finished your design and are prompted to upgrade or delete it.

The Pro plan is $9/mo. and top plan is $12/mo.

Conclusion:

If you need an online tool for designing all kinds of graphics these listed here are the most popular, all of them have plenty of options, but keep in mind that there are many others apps out there.

After testing all of them, we choose Snappa for its simplicity and fast loading times. But all of these are good, go ahead and try for yourself.

 

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chatbot-blog-cover

Why you should boost your marketing with chatbots

Why you should boost your marketing with chatbots

In this post we'll learn how you can improve your marketing with chatbots.

Traditional marketing is a one-way communication channel where companies provide information to customers, but this has two major drawbacks:

1-From the company side you do not know if the information you provide is useful to the customer and measuring this takes a lot of time and money.
2-The customer receives the information, but if it does not fit perfectly what he needs or some doubt arises, then he must contact the company by phone or mail.

But a few years ago, social media changed everything, and today customers demand quick answers and the scope of interaction has dramatically changed.
Now traditional marketing has developed into conversational marketing, a neologism that defines a fresh approach to customer needs through real time interactions and personal level. This includes Email marketing, customer success, customer support and chatbots.

Today half of consumers seek customer support through social media, and 70% prefer chatbots quick answers.

Conversational marketing puts the consumer right in front of you while he is looking for an answer related to a product or service, and then you can generate leads and engagement based on first-hand data.
On the other hand, consumer times have turned short and usually there is no opportunity for a second chance.

And here is where chatbots come; since they are interactive marketing tools that can improve the customer experience, generate leads, provide those unresolved issues to the right support department, reduce costs, provide membership courses and webinars registrations, get user feedback, and many more benefits.

What is a chatbot?

Basically, it is a piece of software that can have conversations with humans.
A chatbot is easily integrated into your website through a little program or a third part application and on messaging apps like Facebook, Telegram and Whatsapp

There are three types of chatbots:
1-Live chat:
These are mainly used for support to answer simple questions in real time.
2-Rules based chatbots:
Rules based chatbots follow predesigned rules built around some kind of decision tree, here the user has fixed option to choose from and these will determine the conversational flow. Mainly used for customer support and basic conversation.
3-AI chatbots:
AI based chatbots are the more advanced ones, have the possibility to understand the user intent and take the conversation to the next level, providing relevant answers and improving their conversational process as time goes by.

Why chatbots improve your marketing efforts:

1-Chatbots provide instant answers:
We all have been hanging on the phone for countless minutes waiting for a customer service agent to get our call, and that experience is far from good. When you finally hear “Hello, my name is xx how can I help you?” You are really upset, and the conversation does not start in the best manner.
(Also think of the above approach with an email instead)
A quick and proper answer improves your business image and brand awareness. If the consumer could solve the issue, you have for sure a returning visitor.

2-Chatbots can engage and qualify leads:
With the right process, lead engagement is a key task for chatbots. According to your sales funnel, you can drive any lead accordingly. There is always the option to pass the data to the right department for later follow-up of those leads that need further clarification about some product or service to close the sale.
If the conversation takes place with an existing customer, you can make a tailored offer based on previous activity and purchase records available in your database.

3-Chatbots cut down costs:
A chatbot service is a monthly fixed cost that works 24/7.
Unlike a human being, its performance is always the same and not depending on any external or internal factor.
And regarding costs, the cost benefit relation is excellent.

4-Chatbots provide a vast amount of data:
Since the chatbot interacts directly with an actual person, you can get a vast amount of real data from your website visitors. Keep in mind that people are not keen to answer questions or complete surveys, but since they are into a natural conversation, they will provide first-hand real-time answers to your inquiries.
This interactive approach is invaluable because a website visitor is someone that has a certain interest in your product or service and is there to get information and - if the conversation is sales related - to be guided through your sales funnel.

5-Chatbots boost your presence on social media:
Chatbots allow you to connect customers on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram and more. The ability to provide answers 24/7 also helps to strengthen brand awareness.

How to start:

1-First of all, you must set up a strategy and begin with a few questions:
Where do you plan to use chatbots, customer service, social media, marketing, or sales?
What kind of leads are you interested in?
What do you want those leads to do?
What specific data do you need to collect?
What customer service issues are you going to deal with?

The best approach is to begin with customer support and once the system is up and running move into another instance.

As with any strategy, you must provide goals and see how those goals are met and make corrections to the initial plan.
This is not a onetime setting; you must test and rework your strategy to build a good system.

2-Put the chatbot in the right pages:
Notice that is useless to put a chatbot on a landing page because you are just trying to qualify a lead there.
Also it is not good to try to start a conversation with everybody, you only want to chat with people showing some minimum interest in your products or services, and a prospect that is lurking the pricing page is a firm candidate for this.
A well-planned strategy will reveal which site pages are best suited for chatbots.

3-Information management:
Do not overload the customer with information that is not valuable to its actual need, you face the risk to overwhelm the user and make the process useless.

4-Do not forget to ask for user feedback, this is crucial to improve your chatbot behavior.
Always remember you have a potential buyer in front of you and would not be wise to let him go without his opinion.

Some chatbot service providers you can try:

There are plenty of chat platforms out there and you should choose one that does not require technical background.
Today all these services are billed in a SaaS manner (Software as a service) . They are cloud-based and billed on a monthly basis. This means that if you stop paying, your chatbot service goes down.

1.Sendpulse.com
A multi-channel marketing platform. They have a free plan that includes 10.000 messages/mo. and up to three bots.
2.Outgrow.co:
An all in all interactive marketing software. You get chatbots and quizzes, forms and calculators builder. 7-day free trial and then prices start from $14/mo.
3.Mobilemonkey.com:
A huge platform about chatbots. They offer a free plan only to qualified small businesses.
4.Chatbot.com
An excellent option with plans starting at $50/mo.
5.Revechat.com:
A complete customer connected platform with prices starting at $13/mo.
6.Surveysparrow.com
A multi-channel platform offering a 14-day trial without a credit card.
7.Manychat.com
A chat only focused platform. They offer a free basic plan to start.
8.Freshchat.com
This is a product of Freshworks, a multi-product platform. Offer tons of integrations and a free plan to try.

Final thoughts:

Interactive marketing is the key to gain a customer that is avid to get quick answers about sales, services and more. Chatbots are an excellent option and a small budget can provide an enormous boost to your business wherever the chatbot system is based on a good strategy and properly maintained and tuned.
A free option is perhaps the best choice to start with and then make changes as your strategy grows.
And do not forget that those improvements you do not make, will be done by your competition.

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9 reasons to choose IDrive Cloud Backup in 2020

9 reasons to choose IDrive Cloud Backup in 2020

In this post, we will show you 9 reasons to choose IDrive Cloud Backup in 2020 to keep your business data safe.
Data loss is a genuine possibility, and the best way to secure your digital files is with an automated and secure backup.

Idrive has been in the field for over 25 years and has gained a solid reputation with a premium and affordable service.
Since we are focused on individuals and small businesses, we won’t discuss enterprise and advanced IDrive options.

 

9 reasons to choose idrive cloud backup

IDrive overview:

Idrive backups your data from your computers, servers, and mobile devices and stores it on the cloud securely, so in the event a data loss occurs (lost your notebook, your mobile is stolen, a virus attack)  the whole data set can be recovered and restored.

To begin, you have to install the IDrive client on your Windows or Mac computer. Then you can select which files to back up and also have the option to exclude certain files from the backup set. The amount of customization IDrive offers here is amazing, you can select files, folders or even a complete hard drive.

 

 

IDrive features:

1-Scheduler and notifications:

Setting the scheduler allows you to fine-tune days and hours to launch the backup process. There is a lot of customization here, you can set email notifications and also receive desktop notifications on your browser.

2-IDrive Sync:

With IDrive Sync you can synchronize folders across devices in real time, and this doesn’t count against your storage quota. Synchronized folders need not be in a backup set, note that this feature can be used as an alternative to GDrive or OneDrive.

3-Continuous Data Protection:

As soon as you modify a file, IDrive recognizes it and backs it up.

4-Disk Image Backup:

Backup hard drives and OS drives too keeping the data structures.

5-True Archiving:

Data uploaded to IDrive servers can’t be deleted unless you make it manually. When you delete a file on your device, it remains on IDrive servers
There is also a “CleanUp” option that tracks files that are no more on your PC and ask if you wish to wipe them out.

6-Security and Privacy:

As your data is stored on the cloud, security and privacy are two powerful features to consider. IDrive transfers and stores data with 256-bit AES encryption using a key (here is the option to use a keyword provided by IDrive or by the user) that is not stored on their servers.
This key is private and you are the only person who knows it therefore if you ever lose this key, access to your data will be locked forever, so keep it in a secure place.

7-IDrive Express:

If you want to use IDrive and have a huge amount of data, they send a physical storage device to copy your data and then return it to IDrive where they promise to have the data backed up within a week.
This service is free for personal accounts for the first time in the USA and also return shipping costs are free.

8-IDrive Snapshots:

Snapshots are recovery points that you can use if a computer or other device has been infected by some kind of ransomware, you can select a previous date before the infection and restore it.

9-Incremental Backup:

IDrive only uploads blocks of files that have changed and not the entire file, this speeds up the process and saves up internet bandwidth. This is the fundamental feature to look for in a cloud backup application not available in every provider.

Pricing:

There is a large pricing option here, but all of their plans have according prices related to storage capacity offered. For tiny needs, the free option may be adequate, but most users will need a higher plan.

 

Keep in mind that all the plans consider unlimited devices(with a single plan you can backup several computers, tablets, iPads and/or mobiles), and this is a killer feature that puts IDrive far away from similar services that charge with an extra cost each additional device that is added to the account.

Conclusion:

After several years using IDrive I only can recommend it as excellent service. I have left my old calendar system that helped me remind about Google Drive backups and now the whole task is taken by IDrive running in the background.
When some problems arose, and I needed my files back, they were always OK and ready to be immediately restored to my PC.

http://www.idrive.com

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Bluehost Shared Hosting: A complete guide

Bluehost Shared Hosting: A complete guide

If you are thinking about building a website for your own business or a personal page, you’ve probably come across many offers with a lot of options and technical data that can be (at least) confusing. There are plenty of providers out there with different plans and prices to choose from. Here we will discuss which is the best option when your business is small or medium-sized and you need good service and pricing.

First, you need to know that your web page will be stored on a server (a kind of special computer) that will answer every request each time an url ( or web page name) is typed into a browser.

There are several types of servers and each of them is designed according to the service they need to provide. We can at first divide this service between two major groups: shared and dedicated storage (or hosting).

In shared hosting you share server’s space with other websites, so all the files of your site are allocated with other files from other sites.

This means that the server has to resolve how to answer requests from various site visitors and that many of these sites can have several requests at the same time.

Although the server was designed with this in mind, resources are fixed and limited and this may lead to a temporary loss of quality which always ends in a speed degradation and even security issues.

Since servers running shared hosting use few resources, these plans are usually less expensive than dedicated hosting plans. See for example Bluehost comparison below:

Shared hosting pricing:

Dedicated hosting pricing:

With dedicated hosting, you have your own server and need to maintain it to keep the site running. Of course higher prices (see above pics) come with better resources and options about speed, storage and security.

3 keys facts to consider about shared hosting:

1-How many visitors you estimate per month?

Shared hosting is a good choice for some hundreds of visitors per month, which is known as “low traffic”

2-Do you have any technical skills?

Shared hosting plans are always easy to maintain through a dashboard known as a “cPanel” where all the features are available in a clear and intuitive form if you need to change or change something (email addresses, backups, etc.) These plans come with good basic support from the service provider.

3-What is your site about and what resources it needs?

If you need a personal site or blog with a few pages showing services, client testimonials, and so on, shared hosting is for sure the right option. But, if you plan to show a big e-commerce store, you should go for a dedicated hosting plan.

7 keys facts to consider when choosing a shared hosting plan:

1-Bandwidth: Refers to the speed of the network the site is hosted on. A very important feature to care about, the higher the bandwidth, the higher the number of visitors your site can handle (think of this as a runway, the more lanes it has the more cars can travel along) Always look for unmetered bandwidth here.

2-Backup: This is an essential feature, some hosting plans do not include this and you must pay an extra charge.

3-Uptime: Which uptime does your provider guarantee? As a rule, don’t settle for less than 99% with this value.

4-SSL: This is an invaluable security option, with an SSL certificate the traffic between your site and the server travels through an encrypted connection. If your site does not have SSL, Google will show your website in the last positions of a web search and will also warn the user that your site is insecure. Some providers include this in their hosting plans, and others offer it at extra cost.

5-Number of websites: If you plan to add a second website later, check if your plan allows you to host more than one site.

6-Email: Check how many emails addresses your provider offers, 5 is a usual number but there are providers that consider email as an additional extra cost feature.

7-Security:  In shared hosting, security is managed by the hosting provider and you have no option to install additional security options. Since your site runs on the same server that others if one of these sites is affected by some kind of malware there is a certain chance for your site to be affected too.

 

Conclusion:

You need not pay a lot of money to be online with an excellent website and reliable performance.

Shared hosting is an excellent low-cost option to begin with and you can always upgrade to a higher plan when your site increases traffic.

Consider shared hosting as a good choice for:

Blogs

Small business sites.

Personal sites.

Portfolio sites.

WordPress managed hosting.

Learn more at www.bluehost.com

outgrow interactive calculators

7 tips for building calculators with Outgrow

7 tips for building calculators with Outgrow

As you may know,  Outgrow is an outstanding platform to engage customers through interactive content, and one of its strongest features is creating quizzes and calculators.

Learn more about interactive content here.

Today I will give you some ideas about building interactive calculators to get more leads and customers. But first, let's take a quick look at the building process:

First, you need to select a pre-made template or build your own from scratch:

outgrow calculators

See also this pic, in the right sidebar there are a lot of customization options:

outgrow calculators

Once you are satisfied with your calculator design, you can narrow your target audience, for example selecting some countries or blacklisting IPs.

You can embed this calculator in your website, email, and social media posts as well.

outgrow calculators

Then the calculator is ready to publish and Outgrow tracks the calculator performance with a detailed analytics and SEO panel:

outgrow calculators

As you can see, the whole process is very intuitive, but if you even get lost there are several built-in tutorials inside the dashboard.

Now, let's see ideas about building calculators:

1-Cost calculators:

Customers often ask themselves “how much this is going to cost me ?” so helping them in this area will create great engagement.

For example : 

What is the real cost of renting a house? How much will it cost to build my app?

 

2-Saving calculators:

Customers LOVE savings, so showing them how your product or service can save is a strong trigger for purchase.

For example: 

Calculate savings when purchasing a used car. Calculate savings for buying a promotional plan.

 

3-Time calculators: 

Time always causes stress and anxiety, and you can help customers showing proper time limits.

For example:

Is it the right time to buy a car? When should I start to build a house?

 

4-Risk calculators:

Consumers are extremely risk averse. Making them aware of the risks can build trust and pave the way to a final purchase.

For example: 

What is the risk of flooding in the neighborhood where I intend to move? What is the risk of traveling to a certain country and not getting medical attention?

 

5-Competition calculators:

Customers always compare different options before making a purchase. So helping them with the numbers about your product or service will surely put your item into the final leap.

For example:

Find out how much you can save on your insurance switching to a new company. Calculate car fuel consumption versus other models' performance.

 

6-ROI Calculators: 

In organizations, ROI calculations are made before any purchase. Helping your customer with ROI calculations can shorten the sales cycle.

For example: 

What is the ROI of buying a certain heavy truck? What is the ROI of investing in a new office?

 

7-Alternate choice calculators: 

Customers often have to make difficult decisions, help them to see your product's advantages.

For example: 

Should I buy a car or a Van? Should we open an office in the USA or in Europe?

See this for an interesting example:

These are only a few but for sure you can think of others that properly suit your business needs. The main point here is the Outgrow approach to customer engagement; no mails, no brochures, no etc., and solving a customer need in the right moment with a different and intelligent tool.

You can try Outgrow for free, learn more at  www.outgrow.co

Have you used Outgrow before?






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