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I don’t know about you, but I am wondering how we are already at the end of January – wasn’t Christmas last week? Alas, we are well into 2018 and hopefully you have reviewed 2017 and are ready to make some tweaks and even some big changes when it comes to your content marketing and social media.

Social Media marketing and content marketing are very powerful tools for businesses. It is so imperative for businesses to be playing in this field as it is part of their consumers every day life! How many times have you checked your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc in the last 15 minutes? (The answer should be none since you are reading this article….)

What’s New in 2018

Before I even get into the known trends for 2018, I want to address the news coming from Facebook. I wanted to share the news, but I wasn’t sure how to tell my clients that “Hey, all that money you spend on social media marketing – well…..” At first glance you may think that Facebook is punishing businesses and plan on making it harder for them to reach their consumers. But I really don’t think it is that at all.

What it looks like from the outside, is that Facebook wants to make sure it is bringing better content to your newsfeed. I too, am tired of all the ads and business posts that take up my newsfeed (that I have not “liked” or interested in), meanwhile one of my friends got engaged, another had a baby but all I knew is that Gap had a sale and some overseas clothing company was selling fake goods……

Is Facebook going to really end the success that businesses have had on social media? Heck no! They make too much money from businesses. I think you will need to spend more money on advertising and ensure that your are sharing quality content instead of multiple posts kills the newsfeed. Does that make sense? Hopefully it does, but please remember this is my assumption.

Trends to Expect in 2018

Back to the reason I am here…..2018 trends.

Twitter really suffered in 2017 with little to no growth – don’t worry, it is still alive and breathing, but I think we will see some big changes with regards to this social media channel.

We have seen some notable changes from the other big guys like Facebook and Instagram. Some of the new players to keep your eye on will be LinkedIn (maybe it will be more than just a job recruiting site and those sharing all that they know). Snapchat will bring some competition to the market and they better put their best-game face on because they are evolving and growing so fast that they may not stop.

Some other things to watch and take into consideration while you are planning:

Less Organic Reach – businesses are going to be very selective of where they spend their advertising dollars and ensure they are on the right platforms for their business. (Again, this comes from the recent Facebook news…but please don’t panic yet.)

Videos – According to research done by Kenshoo, spending on social video increased 130%!!!  But keep in mind that now everyone wants to do video because of this trend and it will become saturated.  Relevant content and making sure you post it in the right social media platform must be considered.  Video is not cheap!

Instagram Stories – it is really going to take off in 2018.  And those who have over 10,000 followers are going to be able to put links in their post (which is a first for Instagram!).

Overall, I think the saying “Keep it simple, stupid”, will really ring true for 2018.  Getting back to the basics and not all that fancy stuff will also make for a successful marketing campaign.  You don’t have to do it all…just do it. Play in the sandbox and have fun!

– Julie
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I don’t know how many times I am asked, “Can you measure ROI when it comes to social media?”.  Yes, and you should. We want to share with you a successful social media campaign we recently did for a golf course located outside of the GTA: Shelburne Golf & Country Club.

Shelburne website design

 

We were approached in February 2017 to plan and execute all social media for Shelburne Golf & Country Club.  Our client, Megan, didn’t have time or the expertise to take on the task of managing their social media.  One of the biggest things that we pride ourselves on, is that we are here as part of your team and to make your life more simple.  Not add to your already busy workload, nor make it complicated.  At all.

So, a couple of things were going on.  Their new website was phenomenal, but how were they going to get the word out and expand their clientele?  Newspaper ads weren’t working.  Radio wasn’t working particularly well.  They knew that they were not executing social media as they should be.  They were relying on automatic postings that also fed into their newsletter.

Goal: Brand Awareness = Sales = Growth

Simple?  Yes.  In less than a year, we have increased their brand awareness.  We focused on golf, weddings, catering and lessons.  We went from zero followers on Instagram to 269 followers.  Facebook’s reach was up 230% within the first month!  Their fans were listening and responding!

The best part?  Sales!  With every event, they have seen an increase in attendees.  Mother’s Day Brunch had a nearly 50% increase in bookings.  For Father’s Day we didn’t discount golf, we built a day package with lunch and a gift and they were booked solid!

Weddings?  Their goal going into 2018 was to at least book 4 weddings.  With some Facebook and Instagram ads alongwith a strong campaign on social media, we have already achieved that goal!  (so you better go book your 2018 wedding so you aren’t disappointed).

Next stage of Shelburne Golf & Country Club?  Update some things on the website, get their wedding marketing materials designed and printed and keep promoting this hidden gem.

Do you know why I say ‘we’ when I mention the successes?  Because it is reflective of what we are doing as a team with our client.  We are part of their team along this journey and we are darn proud to be!

We hope that when you measure your social media success do look beyond just the insights and really get into your sales $$ and how people are responding.  Engaged fans are the best fans.

– Julie
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So when is the best time to post on social media? The obvious answer, “The best times to post on social media are when the people you want to see the content are on the network.”

… So when is that? We have put together a general infographic to show the best times for each platform. Posting during the best times will help you get more traffic, more engagement, and more followers.

Every business is different and the audience will vary so you should still take your own insights into consideration when determining the best times for YOU to post on social.

best times to post on social

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I just returned home from this year’s Design Thinkers in Toronto and had a blast seeing great design & business visionaries like Timothy Goodman, Douglas Davis, Emily Cohen, Emily Oberman, Stephen Gates, Paul Sahre & Jeff Greenspan (to name a few!)

rgd design thinkers event

This year the event was held at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts in Downtown Toronto. In case you have no idea what this event is, it has been an annual Graphic Design conference for the past 18 years. The event is run by the Association of Registered Graphic Designers. The event is basically a creative thinkfest that always leaves me so inspired.

The Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD) is Canada’s only accredited body of graphic designers with a government-legislated title. Earning the RGD title signals quality and competence within the profession.

This past year I earned this recognition which communicates dedication and commitment to the profession. The Registered Graphic Designer (RGD) certification denotes a quality signal to buyers of graphic design services, helping clients distinguish between professional graphic designers who are trained, professional and adhere to the industry code of ethics vs. people with little or no training who offer graphic design services. The RGD vision is for a graphic design profession that is broadly valued for its contribution to life, commerce and society. 

This year the events theme was ‘Perspectives‘. As quoted on page 2 of the handbook,

Some perspectives inspire us. Others challenge us. Yours defines who you are and what you make. Altering your perspective can add dimension to your work and depth to your craft. It can help you see the world from a different point of view. The freedom is yours to make the shift.

rgd sessions 2017

rgd design thinkers 2017

The past two days has left me so inspired, excited about the shift in the design business and (thanks to terrible traffic and a 2 hour commute which should have only taken 1 hour), relieved to back in Dufferin County with a new perspective and insight to inspire new work! This is my second year attending this amazing event, so excited to see what next year brings!

-Jess
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Whether you are a small crafting business or a global corporation your brand should be the most valuable part of your business. Now when I say ‘brand’ I don’t exactly mean ‘logo’… Think of your brand as your company’s personality and your logo is your appearance.

branding-orangeville

So What Exactly is a ‘Brand’?

It is everything… well to be more specific, your brand is essentially how your customers perceive you. The emotions they connect with your business. It encompasses your company’s mission, product or services, customer service, the quality and value of your product or services, the voice of your company and appearance across all touchpoints in print and online.

What Are The Benefits of a Strong Brand?

A well developed and designed brand is valuable, credible and trustworthy. It also helps to promote recognition to loyal customers. Word of mouth is still the #1 sales tool for many businesses – once you have earned your customers loyalty they become your brand ambassadors and share your name with their friends, family and even strangers!

What Makes a Brand a ‘Strong’ Brand?

A ‘good’ brand should:
• Clearly deliver your mission statement
• Confirm your credibility
• Trigger an emotional reaction from your customer
• Motivate a sale (but please, don’t be too pushy… no one likes to be sold to)
• Creates user loyalty
• Be consistent throughout ALL touchpoints (logo, stationery, website, social, print etc.)

Questions to Ask Yourself:

• Does your brand relate and speak to your target audience?
• Does it share what is unique about what you offer?
• Is your voice, messaging and design consistent across all touchpoints?
• Does it reflect your values you want to share with your customers?

If the answers are not clear you may want to take a step back and refine your branding.

Have You Established a Strong Brand?

Branding can be confusing but by now I hope you realize that your brand is the foundation of your company. It enables you to align a marketing plan with your brand objectives and fulfill an overarching strategy… but how do you create a good brand?

Well, we suggest you start with a business plan, or at the very least craft your companies mission, vision and values and know your audience and your unique selling proposition (USP).

What We Can Do For You?

When we meet with a client who is passionate about their brand, it excites us! We spend a great deal of time getting to know our clients and start each project with a brand discovery to get a full understanding of your company values and goals.

If you do it right the first time, you avoid a rebrand when you change your mind next year. Expert design and marketing advice is why our clients contact us and that is what we deliver. Let us help you communicate your brand essence through all relevant touchpoints!

-Jess

 

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Who Owns Your Domain & Hosting?

When you set up your website you paid the previous web guy for your domain registration, you pay them annually for hosting, your website is live… but do you actually own it? The unfortunate and surprising answer may be no.

We ran into this recently with a new client of ours…. the sad fact is that this happens too often and we honestly said ‘Ack! Not again…seriously…not again.’

laptop with website

I hang my head when I am talking to a new client and they tell me that their domain name was registered by their designer.  WHAT?  (Designers/web peeps please listen as well…..).  Never, ever, EVER should your domain name or even your hosting be registered to anyone else other than YOU!

That is right.  Walter the Web Guy that you had design your webpage years ago registered your domain, your hosting and heck, even your premium website templates.  And where the heck is Walter the Web Guy now?  Out of business?  Or you no longer speak to Walter the Web Guy, so he isn’t about to give you what you need.

Our #1 Rule

If we had one rule of thumb to ANY business, big or small, please, please make sure your domain name, hosting, premium template elements are in YOUR name!  I can’t say it enough.  And after you are done reading this,  you are going to email your amazing Walter the Web Guy and tell him that you need to transfer all your digital assets to your name now.  Like right now.  Like go.

Why Is This SO Important?

Well, glad you asked! If you want to make changes to your website and don’t have access to your domain and host information…. you can’t. You could completely lose access to a domain, website and emails you have invested in, a domain name you have added to all of your marketing assets and has possibly become part of your branding. If you have a great relationship with the company or person who registered this for you then you likely won’t run into a big issue… the headache starts when that relationship breaks down and they go MIA – which sadly is a reality.

This is one reason why Green Monkey Creative encourages clients to register their own domains and hosting. We completely understand that the process can seem complex for non-technical people, and we’re happy to help you do it!

Who Owns My Stuff?

Domain

Don’t know who your domain name is registered to?  Head  over to whois.com  and have a look.

Hosting

If you don’t receive a hosting invoice at all, check if it is even in your name and if that isn’t, get it moved over.  From the bottom of my heart, please do this.

Other Digital Assets

Also, your digital assets don’t just end there.  Don’t forget about these:

  • Online accounts registered to your business (like your hosting)
  • Online store that you manage (etsy, ebay, etc)
  • Mailing lists, newsletter subscriptions (Mail Chimp, Constant Contact)
  • Social media accounts (everything you own should have you as an admin or you have the recent login creds….)
  • Online storage accounts (Dropbox, Google Drive)

Now that you have some organizing to do with your digital assets, I am going to try and figure out how to get these domains for my client, as her Walter the Web Guy is MIA.

– Julie
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The founders of Thurgood Marketing and Spring Studio have a HUGE announcement – the two companies have joined forces and are now operating as Green Monkey Creative!

The founding partners are Julie Thurgood of Thurgood Marketing and Jess Holder-White of Spring Studio. Both partners bring an extensive amount of marketing and design knowledge to the company, and like all successful creative partnerships, Jess & Julie create the perfect balance of design and marketing.

Over the past few months, many of you have expressed your support for this combination. We appreciate your shared excitement and confidence in our skills and services.

For Green Monkey Creative, our goal is to make it easy to help YOU achieve your goal. Our full-service strategic creative solutions cater to small to large businesses in a wide variety of sectors.

Don’t know what you need? Don’t have a marketing department? This is where we come in. We will evaluate your marketing needs and work with you to accomplish your marketing goals – even if it gets done in stages!

We truly believe good design & marketing is good for business and are incredibly excited about the future and what this merger can offer our valued clients.

Thank you for your continued support!

-Jess & Julie