The Psychology Of Choice

psychology of choiceThe psychology of choice:

Ask any entrepreneur and they’ll probably tell you it’s getting harder to forge meaningful relationships with customers  Choices for just about everything multiply making emotional connection with the product or service critical.

A big part of an entrepreneur’s job is to notice things other people miss, understand the motivations behind the series of decisions that lead a customer to take action, hopefully being to buy your product. Understanding how users feel during that process is what differentiates your business. The better you know what turns them on or off, their emotional connector, the more likely your prospect will buy

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Facebook, Social Media Or Advertising Platform

Facebook advertisingFacebook just announced that starting in January it will begin limiting the number of “promotional Page posts” in the news feed… unless they pay for it.  Facebook is now officially an advertising platform.

So, what is considered a “promotional” post?  In short, anything that looks or feels like an ad, that includes the reuse of advertising material brands may have paid for.  You probably think “a little vague”, well most terms with Facebook are rather vague and give them a lot of latitude to interpret.

Over the past few months, brand reach on Facebook as dwindled to about 2.73% according to Forrester Research, the new policy is likely to reduce that substantially and force brands to pay for play for more content, until they have to pay for every post to have any reach.

Facebook is now officially an advertising platform in the traditional sense of the term leveraging their massive user base to generate display advertising both in and off the feed and that after charging brands for ads to develop a follower base they cannot reach anymore.

What should brands do?  There is not much of a choice, they should consider Facebook as any other advertising platform and develop their communication in a way that they can pull their now paid audience away from Facebook and other social media platforms and towards platforms they own and use social media to attract traffic to their websites and use their website to build their database.

Yes, we have come full circle, the website is becoming what it should have always been, the center of the digital strategy and social media, a way to build traffic to the web properties owned by the brand.

Brands will still be able to build relationships and interact  on social media but email will take on a new dimension and allow brands to further build their database and/or drive consumers to owned communities versus communities owned by third parties

Focus On Internal Metrics to Measure Social Media Marketing ROI

There is no denying marketers, businesses and brands are sold on social media marketing, the same cannot be said of executive management still looking for hard figures on the effectiveness and the impact on the bottom line.  The big contention point remaining: how do you measure social media marketing ROI

Nearly nine in 10 US marketers are using social media marketing. It is clear they consider it a necessity for doing business. But there is still a sense of unease about what works and doesn’t work as well as how best to manage the effort, according to a new eMarketer report, “Social Marketing Update: Eight Trends to Help Prepare for 2015.”

For as long as social media marketing has been around, marketers have struggled with how to determine return on investment (ROI). Despite a multitude of available metrics, the question still tops the list of challenges marketers face with social media.

In a June 2014 study of marketers’ usage and attitudes toward digital marketing conducted by Gigaom and Extole, more marketers said they would increase spending on social media marketing than on any other type of marketing. At the same time, 52% said it was difficult to prove ROI. That led the researchers to conclude that “marketers may be buying on faith with social.”

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Responding To Reviews Shows You Care

According to Bazaarvoice’s “The Conversation Index: Volume 6” study, shoppers who read helpful brand responses to reviews are 186% more likely to make a purchase and show 157% higher average product sentiment. Also, 41% of consumers see a brand’s response to an online review as a sign that the brand really cares about its customers.

Are You Gambling with your Online Presence?

Centering your digital strategy around social media or any other platform you do not control is not a good idea and akin to gambling with your online presence .  

Gambling with your online presenceTerms of service do change, so does their interpretation and social media companies  have been known for taking pages or accounts down without warning and without recourse (like in this story).

Your website is the only platform you have full control over, assuming you did not use a website “farm”, meaning a company selling you a template or canned site they host.  It should be the center of your digital strategy and your blog should be a part of it, not a separate entity hosted on a different url.

Use social media platform to create conversations and drive traffic to your site where you can convert visitors into customers.

How does that translate in real life? 

You post stories and blog post on your self hosted blog, part of your website, publish a teaser on your social media platforms with a link to the page on your website driving traffic to your website.  Each new visitor to your website, each new visit is an opportunity to convert.

You can lose your Facebook account and all the pages attached to it, you can lose your LinkedIn account or any other social media account, your website (meaning self hosted) is the safest place for your content and the safest place to build your online presence.

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Content Marketing Getting the Best ROI

In an environment in which consumers’ attention is increasingly fragmented, the idea of using content to capture interest and engagement is catching on among marketers.

Compelling content can help marketers tell a story, but it can also be cumbersome—and expensive—to create. So which content strategies are generating attractive return on investment (ROI) for marketers? The most cost-effective content types are articles, video and white papers, according to a January 2013 study of marketing decision-makers worldwide conducted by CopyPress, a software company specializing in content marketing tools.

In particular, marketers were most widely satisfied by the ROI from featured articles, with 62.2% saying they provided some of the best content ROI.

Video was also a content strategy cited by 51.9% of marketers for having among the best ROI. But the study highlighted some of the challenges marketers have faced working with it. Video was the content type the highest percentage of marketers (49.8%) described as “difficult to create.” (Other media types that challenged marketers included interactive media, infographics and motion graphics.) And despite the fact that many marketers are having success with video content, half believed that video was “over-priced.”

Publishing articles and white papers may seem like a less complex and less labor-intensive content solution, but these media bring challenges of their own. One question many marketers are asking is what role should authorship play in marketing content creation. Should articles come from specific individuals, or should the focus be on the brand as a whole?

The CopyPress study found that approximately two-thirds of respondents considered authorship to play an important role in their content marketing strategy, while one-third did not. Authorship generally refers to whether articles are bylined, and whether those bylines are from high-profile individuals.

20 Free Photoshop Alternatives

Social Media is a very intensive visual environment, meaning, you will probably have to edit or resize graphics.  For the past decade, Photoshop has been the standard when it comes to photo editing software but not everybody is able or willing to spend $700 to buy it or need all the features and complexity of the software.  Following are 20 free Photoshop alternatives

1. GIMP
Windows, Mac, Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, AmigaOS

The GNU Image Manipulation Program is a great application that was created for photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. Written on Unix, GIMP is arguably the most popular alternative for Photoshop available today.

GIMP

2. Gimphoto
Windows, Linux

Gimphoto is a modification of the GIMP graphics program that aims to present a more user friendly interface. The layouts are more similar to Photoshop, making Gimphoto a popular choice for those who are switching from it. It’s currently only available for Linux and Windows though a Mac version is available.

Another GIMP modification that aims to make things easier for former Photoshop users is GIMPshop. Unfortunately, someone hijacked the GIMPshop domain, resulting in a dispute between the original developer and the hacker who was profiting from hijacking the domain. This is one of the main reasons the application is no longer developed.

Gimphoto

3. PhotoPos Pro
Windows

PhotoPos Pro is a rich photo editor that has support for most picture file types and support for digital scanners. It also features image enhancement, text tools, layers, masks and special effects.

The pro version of the script used to retail for $59.90 (with a lite version available for free) but it has since been released as Freeware (apparently due to thousands of requests).

PhotoPos Pro

4. Photoshop Express
Online Service

Can’t afford the high price of Photoshop? You may be pleased to know that Adobe offers a free basic version of the script online. The editor allows you to edit your photos online with ease. You can resize, crop and rotate, reduce red-eye and saturation, adjust white balance, fill light and much more. You can also apply effects to photos such as pixelate, tint and crystalize.

Photoshop Express is a great choice for basic photo editing and quick touch ups.

Photoshop Express

5. Artweaver Free
Windows

Artweaver Free is a limited version of the artistic application Artweaver Plus (€29). The free version has common editing tools such as gradient and crop, support for PSD files, arrangeable palettes plus image and effect filters.

Artweaver Free

6. Splashup
Online Service

Formally known as Fauxto, Splashup is a free online photo editing tool and manager that has support for layers, filters, brushes, text editing, blend modes and much more. You can import photos from your desktop and from a range of services such as Facebook, Flickr and Picasa.

Multiple photos can be edited at the same time and there is a lite version for mobile PCs available too.

Splashup

7. Aviary
Online Service

A cool online photo editor that lets you edit photos easily. You can crop and rotate images and apply lots of cool effects such as sharpen, blemish, red eye, contrast, blue and much more.

Aviary

There are advanced tools available too (also free) for dedicated editing such as an image editor, vector editor, effects editor, image markup, music creator, audio editor and screen capture.

Aviary

8. Inkscape
Windows, Mac, Linux

A vector graphics editor which boasts that it has similar capabilities to Illustrator, CorelDraw and Xara X. It saves files in the Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format. It should be considered as a compliment rather than an alternative to raster graphic editors such as Photoshop or Gimp for most tasks, though it has adopted some common photo editing tools such as blurring etc.

Inkscape

9. Photoscape
Windows

A basic photo editor that lets you fix and enhance photos. It has a lot of interesting features such as support for animated gifs, a splitter which divides a photo up into several pieces and attaching multiple photos vertically or horizontally to create one final photo.

Photoscape

10. PhotoPlus Starter Edition
Windows

PhotoPlus Starter Edition is a limited version of PhotoPlus X5 ($89.99). It comes with a lot of great tools that help you adjust photos and give them a complete makeover. Through PhotoPlus you can repair old and damaged photos, remove objects from a photo, smooth skin, whiten teeth and much more.

PhotoPlus

11. Seashore
Mac

A beautiful image editor that supports gradients, textures and alpha channel editing. You can compare the current image to the last version of it saved, and can save in SVG, PSD and PDF file formats.

Seashore

12. Paint.NET
Windows

A great program that evolved from Microsofts famous Paint application, Paint.NET supports layers, special effects, unlimited history and more. It uses an intuitive tabbed interface that shows live thumbnails of the opened image rather than text. It also has a very active support community.

Paint.NET

13. Darktable
Mac, Ubunut, Fedora, Opensuse, Arch, Gentoo

One of the only applications that isn’t available for Windows, Darktable is a feature rich photo editing program that supports lots of special effects and correction tools. It has support for 15 languages and the export system works with Picasa, Flickr, email attachments and more.

Darktable

14. Photofiltre
Windows

An image retouching program that allows basic or advanced image editing. It supports over 100 filters and lets you use useful preset selection tools such as ellipses, triangles, rounded rectangles and more.

Photofiltre

15. VCW VicMan’s Photo Editor
Windows

A basic image editor that supports over 30 types of file formats and 100 transformations, filters and effects. Photoshop compatible filters are supported too.

VCW VicMan's Photo Editor

16. PaintStar
Windows

An image processing application for editing and retouching photographs. Image morphing, multiple layers and screen capture are supported and it supports more than 30 file formats, 100 effects and filters.

PaintStar

17. Cinepaint
Windows, Mac, Linux, FreeBSD and NetBSD

An offshoot of GIMP, CinePaint has been used on many Hollywood films such as Spiderman and The Last Samurai to touch up frames.

Cinepaint

18. Pixlr
Online Service, Windows, Mac, Mobile Devices

A cool free online photo editing service that works on browsers and a variety of operating systems and devices. Available in 23 languages, Pixlr has the most usable Photoshop features such as color adjustment, special effects, layer support and much more.

Pixlr

19. Picasa
Windows, Mac, Linux

Originally created and sold by Idealab, Google aquired Picasa in 2004 and released it to the world for free. The current version supports easy geo tagging and heavy integration with Google+ that lets you easily tag Google+ friends and share photos through your circles.

It’s user-friendly interface makes it easy to apply basic edits to your photos and touch them up. 12 effects are available and there are additional affects via Picnik too.

Picasa

20.  Windows Photo Gallery (previously called Windows Live Gallery)
Windows

The new version of Windows Photo Gallery allows you to organize, view, share and edit.  Still intuitive and easy to use is has become a lot more powerful and now includes RAW image processing

WLG
Have we missed any application, tell us in the comment section, have you used any of these apps, tell us about your experience in the comment section