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Getting Started with Snapchat

Getting Started with Snapchatground-floor-creative-snapchat

You’ll be forgiven if you’ve carefully ignored all talk about Snapchat, the latest, popular social media messaging platform. After all, how can you keep track? If Google, one of the most powerful companies in the world, couldn’t make their Google+ network a success, why bother?

Snapchat is different. In fact, it now has more users than Twitter, which has been one of the top social media networks for nearly a decade. Snapchat is here to stay. Fortunately, it’s not hard to jump on board. Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Download and Select a User Name – The downloading part is easy – it’s just like any other app you add to your smart phone. As for a user name, make sure it’s one you like because you can’t change it.
  2. Adjust Settings – Tap the ghost at the top of the screen, and then the icon in the top-right corner that looks like a gear. This is where you establish your personal settings. Not sure on a few? Don’t worry – you can come back later and update them.
  3. Learn Your Options – The basic terms are Snaps, which are pictures or videos, Stories, which are groups of Snaps, and Snap Score, which is some kind of algorithmic number of your Snaps, Stories, and so on. Other key features include Discover, Snapstreak, Replay, and Screenshot. They’re fairly intuitive, so you can play around with them after you have the basic functionality down.
  4. How To Use Snapchat – The app includes three screens – your camera feed of your Snaps, your Snapchat feed, and your Stories. The fun part occurs after you take a snap. You can draw on your pic, add emojis or stickers, shift lenses, apply filters, and more. New features include audio and video calls. You’re essentially making yourself look strange, and yet it’s fun.

How and why you choose to use Snapchat is up to you. But once you get started, it’s hard to ignore. Snapchat won’t help you close business deals or participate in in-depth discussions, but it might add a little extra flavor to your day.

Are you using Snapchat? What are some of your favorite features?

5 Tools Every Graphic Designer Needs to Succeed

5 Tools Every Graphic Designer Needs to SucceedIndianapolis web design firm ground floor creative

Are you feeling the graphic design bug taking hold? It’s easy to see how – the advances in motion capture video, web design, and the like can cause your creative juices to flow. But how do you get started? Here are 5 tools every graphic designer needs to succeed:

  1. A Mac – Don’t even think about a PC if graphic design is on your mind. Apple has a deep history of being the computer of choice for designers. The operating system is better suited for design and more software is available for wherever your muse takes you. Yes, Macs cost more, but they tend to last longer than PCs. If you want to be a graphic designer, this is a non-negotiable step one.
  2. The Adobe Suite – The Creative Cloud suite of software, which features Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign, are the gold standard for graphic design applications. If Macs are the must-have hardware, this is the necessary software.
  3. A Wacom Tablet – Another almost-essential, Wacom offers a number of tablets you can hook up to your Mac to use as an on-screen display. The pen technology enables you to design as if you’re drawing in a sketchbook, but with top-of-the-line clarity and resolution.
  4. A Solid Workstation – Graphic designers need space. Huddling into a corner is bad for your body and can stifle inspiration. Make sure you have a quality workspace, an adaptable desk set-up, an ergonomic chair, and a nice set of earphones to capitalize on the power of tunes to inform your design.
  5. A Quality Camera – A designer needs to capture high-quality images to be used in creating visual masterpieces. The new iPhones are surprisingly better than you might expect, but they still don’t compare to a professional grade DSLR camera. You don’t need to break the bank, but you should have camera that captures crisp images.

Already dipping your toes in the graphic design waters? What tips do you have for someone just getting started?

You Can Never Have Enough Color – The Pantone Explosion

You Can Never Have Enough Color – The Pantone ExplosionGround Floor Creative, Indianapolis Web design

Branding without color is like writing without verbs – impossible. Color is what makes your design come alive,  what makes it stand out and resonate with customers. You see it every day – imagery without visual panache makes little impact. But color adds the vibrancy that communicates feeling and emotion. Color sticks with you.Pantone, considered the authority on color, recently released an additional 112 new colors for use in graphic design. The Pantone Plus Series now includes more than 1800 colors for designers to apply in their creations. It’s hard to believe 112 colors didn’t already exist, but after surveying several hundred graphic designers, response was that a need existed for deeper, richer colors, especially in blue, red, and orange. Neutrals and blushes were also added to the designer toolkit.

Here’s why using Pantone is so valuable:

  1. Ensure consistency – By using color from Pantone, you can guarantee that color remains consistent across all design elements. You are able to standardize your color, whether you’re creating logos or designing print collateral.
  2. Long-Term Viability – If you select colors outside Pantone, it may be difficult to match up color down the road. Choosing color in Pantone allows you to convert without worry that the tints and shades are going to align. In the past, designers used to struggle to match color from older or obsolete designs with new versions. Lost files required designers to have a sharp eye. With Pantone, you establish an accessible baseline a designer can always refer back to for future endeavors.

Have you created design elements with and without Pantone? How did the experience differ? Do you feel the color in your current design concepts align? Contact us today to learn how we can help you streamline the color in your graphic elements.

Top 4 Video Editing Apps for iPhone and iPad

Top 4 Phone Video Editing Apps for iPhone and iPadIndianapolis Marketing Firm, Ground Floor Creative Video

Some of the best video today is being shot on smart phones. The clips have great video and audio, and are easily editable – if you have the right tools. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of great apps to download to your iPhone or iPad. Here are the top 5 phone video editing apps you can use on your Apple device:

  1. iMovie – Available by default on the latest iPhone and iPad, iMovie includes all the basics necessary to create high-quality video. The app enables you to speed up and slow down clips along with the ability to apply a variety of filters. iMovie is a great first step as you’re learning the ins and outs of editing iPhone and iPad video.
  2. Vizzywig – For both iPhone and iPad, Vizzywig provides tools to make your video look professional. You can import multiple clips and incorporate multi-camera recordings. Think of a feature you’d expect to find on a pro video editor, and you’ll likely get it with Vizzywig.
  3. Magisto – If you’re looking for automatic, no hassle video editing, check out Magisto. You can add soundtrack music, incorporate themes, and easily pull together photos and clips to create professional video. The best part is the basic app is free. Cost increases as you add in-app features.
  4. Pinnacle Studio – If you have a bunch of video content stored on the cloud through tools like Google Drive and Dropbox, Pinnacle is an ideal app. You can import video, music, and other items from these services and build your video within the app. When you’re done, you can export the video directly to YouTube, Facebook and more in full 1080p.

The current iPhone and iPad allow anyone with a vision to create high-quality video. Select the right apps to edit and your business can jump into the video business like a pro.

Not sure how to begin? Contact us today to learn more.

Smart Social Media Tactics for New Companies

Smart Social Media Tactics for New Companies

Starting a new company is daunting enough, but building a quality social media presence – a Ground-Floor-Creative-Marketing-Smart-Social-Medianecessity in today’s economy – is especially challenging. With so many channels available in which to reach potential customers, identifying the ones that will connect best requires dedication and strategy. Adhering to the following tactics will get your efforts off on the right foot and establish a baseline from which you can grow:

  1. Go to Your Customers – Who are your customers? After you answer that question, the next step is to figure out where they live. Is it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, or any of the other online communities? Trying to build a presence in every network will leave you too spread out. The better strategy is to pick the ones where your potential customers spend their time, and then target your messages within those areas.
  2. Engage – Shouting your company’s messaging at your network without any effort to build a relationship won’t get you far. Instead, look for ways to build content that engages your customers so they feel a connection with your company and brand. One caveat: Make sure you know the persona of your brand before reaching out. You want your messaging to reflect the true spirit of your company, not the one you think your customers expect to see.
  3. Post Often – Your company’s new social media presence must be maintained consistently. New content – whether it’s posts, tweets, or photographs – must appear on a regular basis. Launching content one week and then disappearing for two will confuse your audience. Take the time to build a social media calendar. Concurrently, make sure that whoever manages your social media accounts is active throughout the day.
  4. Experiment – Certain tactics may have greater impact with your audience. Try blog posts, video, photography series, and tweet-ups to see what works best. One of the best aspects of social media is the way it helps to build community. Leverage that for your business.

Is your company still in the start-up stages? How successful is your current social media presence. To find out how we can help, click here.

4 Key Web Design Terms You Should Know

pexels-photo-27452Jumping into the waters of web design discussion without understanding context can make you feel untethered. If you’re not a professional, you won’t be expected to know all the key terms. But knowledge of the following 4 will help you to feel like you’re at least grasping part of the discussion:

  1. Design versus Development – Web design and web development are not the same thing. The former is the artist – the person who ensures the color, images, logos, photography, and overall nature of the design come through correctly. The latter is the person who writes the code to build the framework of the site. They’re the ones who learn languages like XML, JavaScript, Ruby, and more. Web designers and web developers work together – sometimes they’re the same person – but what they accomplish are two separate outcomes.
  2. UI versus UX – UI is short for User Interface while UX represents User Experience. A website’s UI comprises the elements incorporated into the design of the site to provide users with most optimal experience on the site. A site’s UX is the result of a great UI – it’s the collective feel and reaction a person has when they engage on a page. A site with a good UX compels visitors to interact.
  3. Responsive Design – Perhaps the biggest buzz word in today’s web development world, responsive design is the way a site appears and engages on a mobile device. Statistics show that consumers are accessing the internet at greater rates through their smart phones and tablets. Today’s sites must be designed with responsive technology to ensure they appear and flow correctly on these devices. Google is also placing more importance on responsive design in how it ranks sites.
  4. CMS – Short for Content Management System, a CMS is the software you use to create and load content on a website. Just about every blog you read was built using a CMS. Popular Content Management Systems include WordPress, Gawker, and Drupal.

Are you in the market for a new website? Let us know today how we can help answer your questions. Click here.

The Power of Color in Branding

What is your favorite color? kaboompics.com_Customers & Users - Color Wheel

In branding, it doesn’t matter. Or, to be more precise, the question should be, “What is your audience’s favorite color?”

Color is often one of the first identifiers a customer looks for when recognizing your company logo. Think the green in Starbucks or the yellow and red in the McDonald’s sign. Scientists are even offering their two cents, some suggesting that humans are genetically hardwired to like or dislike certain colors or color combinations. So what’s a business to do when designing a logo so they can appeal to the largest number of potential customers?

An infographic from WebpageFX breaks down the psychological aspects of the most popular colors. Some quick takeaways:

  • Red is powerful, generating strong emotions and responses
  • Yellow is nearly as strong, so combined with red (McDonald’s) it’s even more impactful
  • Blue is comforting yet commanding
  • Orange conveys warmth
  • Green suggests health and money
  • Purple is mysterious

Consider your business. Based on industry, along with current and potential customers, which colors do you think would generate the best response? What colors are used in your current logo? Based on the psychological characteristics noted in the infographic, does the intent of your current logo match up with how you want your business to be perceived?

If you feel there is a disconnect between your current branding efforts – including your logo – and the audience you want to attract, contact us today. We can help you develop a complete branding profile that will more accurately reach customers.

Is Your Business Maximizing the Value of LinkedIn?

Small businesses often have enough difficulty keeping up with their larger, more powerful linkedin-1183716_1280competitors. Social media, however, helps level the playing field. If you know how to maximize the impact of your social channels, you can position your business to appear to have as much space in the industry as the bigger names.

The network that offers the greatest opportunity to match, or even exceed, the competitor’s reach is LinkedIn. But to do so, you need to take advantage of two tools available in the channel:

  1. Publishing – LinkedIn’s Publishing feature enables you to post content through your feed, similar to the appearance of a blog feed. The advantage of writing on LinkedIn is that your audience is already following your account, and many of your followers are within your industry. LinkedIn Publishing helps you to further position people in your company as thought leaders, which can help to increase engagement and strengthen relationships. The more you post – or build the expectation among your audience that you have valuable insight to share – the greater the opportunities for generating a higher industry profile.
  2. Slideshare – LinkedIn’s Slideshare feature enables you to post larger presentations and deeper, more insightful content to your network. White papers, ebooks, and speaking decks are all examples of content you can post using Slideshare. For example, suppose you hold a webinar for industry experts. You may have only a handful of people take part in person, but you can then post the presentation on Slideshare for other members of your audience to view later. Over time, you can build an impressive library of Slideshare presentations for your audience to refer to and review.

Your competitors may have a larger advertising budget, but you can match their reach if you use LinkedIn and its social media tools wisely. Are you currently maximizing the value of LinkedIn in promoting your business? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your business.