Bloom Media Brightens Up Cablevision’s Optimum Lightpath

Re-branding campaign includes new logo design, print ad, TV commercial

Amityville, NY (December 17, 2012)  –  Long Island’s top full-service communications firm, Bloom Media, has created a rebranding of Cablevision’s Optimum Lightpath, a service which provides Ethernet-based communications solutions for businesses, which is now known as Lightpath.

Bloom Media designed the company’s new logo, which was inspired by and symbolizes Lightpath’s commitment to its mid-market and large customers.   The new look reflects the endless possibilities which Lightpath can offer businesses, while the print and television ad campaigns focus on the company’s employees messaging directly with customers.

“We wanted to feature the employees in the print and TV ads because these are the people who take pride in what they do, contribute to every customer experience and are responsible for building the brand and company that Lightpath is,” said Laura Caggiano, agency principle.  “We also wanted to showcase interaction between Lightpath employees and customers.”    The rebranding was released this month.

Bloom Media is a full-service communication arts group with over 15 years experience delivering successful, results-driven creative solutions both online and off.  Their creative marketing services include strategy, copy, design and production for acquisition, win-back, retention and specific segmentation marketing.   In addition to Cablevision’s Lightpath, clients include Steinway & Sons, The Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau and Newsday. For more information visit bloommedia.com.

Lightpath, a division of Cablevision Systems Corporation (NYSE: CVC), is an industry leader in providing advanced Ethernet-based data, Internet, voice, video transport solutions and managed services to businesses across the New York metropolitan area. www.golightpath.com.

Social Media Tactics That Get Results

Social Media has become an essential tool for businesses today. It seems like if you’re not using social media then your being left behind. But having an effective social media plan isn’t as simple as setting up a Facebook page and then sitting back and reaping the rewards. How do you get the most out of social media to create leads, generate feedback and connect with your audience? Here are some simple tactics that I wanted to highlight to help you get results.

First Impressions Matter

Your Twitter profile is a reflection of your brand and will have a direct impact on how your business is perceived. This is the first impression visitors will get of your business so make sure you create a custom Twitter background and Facebook landing page that reflect your business’ brand. Taking some time to create a professional looking Twitter avatar can also go a long way. Social media is an opportunity for your audience to get to know you and become comfortable doing business with you. Show your personality but make sure everything positively represents your brand.

Make your social media accessible

Creating your social media accounts won’t do any good if they can’t be found. You want to make sure your accounts are convenient to find and easily shareable.  List the Twitter handles of the staff contributing to your company’s feed on your website, blogs and Facebook pages. Using a Share this widget on blog posts, web pages, etc. allows people to easily share and spread your content. Also be sure to integrate your social media with your blog and webpage. Add your blog’s feed to your Facebook fan page wall via the Notes application. Display RSS feeds from a blog or Twitter account on your website and use widgets to bring Twitter content onto your website and blogs.

Track your data

Are you reaching who you want to with your social media strategy? There are a number of resources available to track and understand who you are reaching with social media. Programs such as “Tweet Reach” and “What The Trend” track and analyze your collected tweets. Twitalyzer.com makes use of Google Analytics to break down data on Twitter visitors and Facebook Insights will provide demographics and activity information.You can keep personal records of all your important Twitter statistics such as followers, references, retweets, and links and track your progress. Another useful tip is to use short URLs to track link performance (bit.ly, tinyurl.com).

Connect !!

Above all social media is a way to connect. Make sure to give your audience every opportunity to share, create, or join the conversation. People love to feel connected to the brands they love and expect their input and feedback to matter. Social media provides an opportunity to gain a more loyal and engaged audience and get direct feedback from your market.  Open up your Facebook page by allowing fans to post on wall updates, photos, videos and discussions. Promote your Facebook page with a Like Box. Create a conversation by asking your Facebook fans and Twitter followers engaging questions or to upload content. Host contests or fan determined give-aways on your Twitter and Facebook page. Be creative but keep the content coming and build relationships by replying, retweeting, and engaging in new conversations.

Take advantage of the Twitter community to expand your reach and keep up on latest trends. Twitaholic.com will help you connect with the top tweeters in your city or area. By keeping up with trending topics you can join in the conversation and get your name out there to reach a wider audience. Don’t miss out on these easy strategies to gain more exposure and valuable contacts in your market.

These are just a few tips to help you get results from your social media strategy. For more, check out this presentation by Chad Norman titled 50 Social Media Tactics for Business

 

 

10 Graphic Design Tips – How to Design like a Pro

Man I have been doing this a long time. Over the years these tips have helped gain many controls and click-thru’s. These tips are not necessarily for graffiti artists or the likes, they are for marketing communications that get results.
If you would like a designed print out to hang on your wall (and some free twitter templates too) Like us on Facebook and check out free downloads.

1. Think of Your Audience
Who will be looking at this design? What do they like? How do you want them to feel?

2. Organize
Sketch your content out in your favorite program or with a pen & pad. Tell your story. Set up easy to scan areas. Remember we are trained to read left to right.

3. Hook it Up
What’s your hook? Use a theme or some sort of design element to make it memorable.

4. Keep it Simple
Your message is what’s most important. Don’t let design overpower content.

5. Color it Right
Color brings out emotions. Use proper colors for the mood you want to create. Don’t use too many colors in your design. Check out kuler.adobe.com for some ideas.

6. Photoshop Filters
The key to Photoshop filters is subtlety. Try not to go too heavy on the filters.

7. Typography
We all love typography, unfortunately we have to limit ourselves. Use just a few that go well with your design. Make sure important info is easy to read. Adjust your tracking, space between letters should be consistent.

8. Don’t be too Stocky
We all know you are using stock photos. Try and keep them a little less obvious.
Do a thorough search until you find that perfect photo.

9. White Space
Make sure your logos, art & photos have adequent space around them. Don’t clutter.
12pt text with white space around it is more powerful than crammed 60pt type.

10. Print Out Print Work
If your final piece is going to a printer, be sure to print a full-size test beforehand. Things looks a lot different on screen than they do printed.

If you have any other tips to share we’d love to hear them.

4 Great Resources to Get in the Mobile Game

In one of our last posts we showed how the explosive growth of the mobile industry is changing the game. Check out some of these great resources to help get started and improve your mobile presence.

Classic Guide to Mobile Creative and Mobile Advertising

Mobile Marketer put out their “Classic Guide to Mobile Creative” as well as a “Classic Guide to Mobile Advertising.” These guides have some really great articles and how to guides that cover a bunch of topics in order to give you a thorough mobile strategy. The guide covers everything from “Designing engaging mobile rich media ads in-app” to “5 Steps to creating an HTML5 mobile ad campaign.”

Mobile Marketer’s Classic Guide to Mobile Creative

Mobile Marketer’s Classic Guide to Mobile Advertising

 

Organizing for Mobile

In this article, Luke Wroblewski talks about how to best organize content and actions for the best mobile web experience. He shows, in detail, how good mobile websites deal with navigation, exploring and pivoting to content, design and structure. This should give you a great resource to best align your mobile website for your customers needs.

A List Apart – Organizing Mobile

 

Case Study

In this post, Lynette Anthony Hundermark breaks down the Four Seasons mobile website and points out some common errors to avoid with your mobile website. She highlights some key ways to avoid errors with functionality, navigation and usability.

FourSeasons: A case study to show how NOT to do mobile

 

Mobile Stylesheets

This article by Dominique Hazael-Massieux gets into the nitty-gritty of mobile design and highlights how to use style sheets, CSS media queries, Javascript and other techniques to create a mobile-friendly site that will work across a large number of browsers.

A List Apart – Return of the Mobile Stylesheet

 

How Much Should A Website Cost?

By Carol Lynn Rivera – websearchsocial.com

I recently came across this fantastic article by Carol Lynn Rivera of Web.Search.Social and she was kind enough to let us use it on our blog. It is full of explanations that we go over with our clients and prospects whenever website development is discussed. A lot of folks seem to think that because you can get one of these do-it-yourself website’s for $30 a month – professional costs are too high. What they do not realize is these cheapo website companies can actually harm your brand. As designers, developers and content strategists we put a lot of work into making sure your new website represents your brand properly, is friendly to your customers, is properly optimized and is a good experience all around. So here it is “ How Much Should A Website Cost” by Carol Lynn Rivera (Thanks Carol)

“How much will it cost?”

That’s the first question I get asked by a prospect.

“How much will it cost?”

That’s the last question I get asked by a prospect.

I’ve asked it. I bet you’ve asked it.

It’s a fair question; after all, you’ve got to make smart investments in your business and you can’t jump into a project blindly. But asking how much a website costs is a bit like calling your contractor and saying, “I want you to build me a house. How much will it cost?” He’d look at your cross-eyed for a while and then ask you a million questions about how many rooms, what type of flooring, whether you’ve already purchased the land or not… all of which have very real parallels when it comes to building a website.

To make matters worse, there can be a huge gap between the costs you get from different developers. Why is one offering a website for $500 and another asking for $5,000? Is one stupid, or the other a scam artist? How’s a person to make a smart decision?

What should a website really cost?

I’ll save you the effort of reading all the way through to the end if you’re here for “the answer”: there isn’t one. There isn’t ONE answer for the same reason there isn’t ONE website that looks, functions and evolves like every other website.

However!

There are some very real and relevant things that you should consider and a few things to know about how pricing works. Read on to get the inside scoop so that before you ask the question next time, you’ll be armed with information.

The Preamble: Where Does The Cost Of A Website Come From?

In a DIY world, most non-developers don’t understand the work that goes into building a website. There are plenty of tools that let you drag-and-drop your way to an online presence in a few hours and call it a website.

That’s not the kind of site I’m talking about.

I’m talking about a website that reflects your business, your goals, your brand. I’m talking about a website that adds value and is a strong tool in your marketing arsenal. One that is optimized for search. One that works across browsers and operating systems. One that doesn’t stick you with another company’s logo at the bottom of it because you got it for $49.00 and now you’re obliged to perpetually advertise someone else’s brand.

So assuming we’re not talking drag-and-drop, “stick your logo here” types of websites, let’s talk briefly about what goes into building one.

Content. Whether you pen a few paragraphs or hire someone to do it, it’s got to be written, organized, keyword optimized, human being optimized, spell-checked and proofread.

Photos. Whether they’re original or stock, someone has to find, organize, retouch and properly size and output them for web.

Design. There’s high end custom and there’s minimal, but someone has to consider colors, fonts, graphics and how they all work with your brand.

Structure. Someone has to think about pages, navigation and usability, and the best way to get users from here to there.

Layout. Headers, footers, sidebars, call-outs, pull quotes, opt-in boxes, social icons. These things don’t magically place themselves on the page, nor should they be stuck somewhere haphazardly.

Optimization. Beyond keywords, there are considerations for code quality, site speed, meta data.

Functionality. Opt-in boxes don’t program themselves. Nor do contact forms, shopping carts or other features. There are fundamental questions like “what happens if…” and “then what?”

Compatibility. With half a dozen common browsers and twice as many versions, multiple operating systems and platforms, not to mention mobile, someone has to make sure your site works.

Launch. Someone has to install your site on a hosting server, set up the DNS, get your analytics, Webmaster tools and sitemaps in order and make sure everything is working in real life, including all those opt-ins and contact forms.

If this sounds like a setup for “…and that’s why a website has to be expensive!” it’s not. It’s just the practical reality of building a site. There are things to do and things to consider. These are just some of those things and they all go into determining a cost.

Things That Can Affect The Cost Of A Website That Have Nothing To Do With The Website

All things being equal (same site, same requirements, same amount of work) there are other things outside the project itself that can impact cost.

Geography. If you ask a company in New York to give you a price for building your website, they are probably going to give you a higher cost than a company in New Jersey or Maine or Wisconsin. Are they scamming you? Probably not.

The cost of living in New York is pretty high. So is the cost of doing business. A company covering its SoHo rent necessarily has to charge a higher rate than one run virtually out of a couple of home offices.

Sometimes you have to make your decision, not based on cost, but based on value – which company do you want to work with? Which one has the most experience, the best portfolio, the most responsive people? A higher cost should not disqualify a company if that’s the one you’re confident can get the job done.

Experience. A less experienced person may charge less because he doesn’t have the full-blown skill of a seasoned professional. That’s not to say he’ll do a bad job, but it’s always a risk when you’re working with freelancers who build websites “on the side”, self-taught “learn web design in 21 days” types and people who are just starting out in the industry.

If cost is a big factor it might be a risk worth taking. Just do it with your eyes open and don’t expect things to be as thorough as they might have been with a more experienced professional.

Experienced developers can charge you more because they bring the weight of their expertise to bear on your project. An experienced developer may be able to do your site in half the time and charge twice as much, but remember you’re dealing with value and not cost. You should expect an entirely different experience and result.

Size. Of the company, that is. If you’re comparing costs between a single developer and a company, chances are the company price is going to be higher. Why? It has more to do with expertise than overhead.

In web development there are many skills. There are Photoshop and design skills. CSS and HTML skills. Copywriting and SEO skills. Programming skills, with subsets of skills across a vast array of programming languages. It’s unlikely that a single person can excel at all of these. So when you’re working with a single developer, you are naturally limited by what that person has in his skill arsenal.

But when you work with a company, you have a team of professionals, from project managers, copywriters and testers to CSS experts and programmers at your disposal. In this case, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. It pays to consider your project needs before you jump at a particular cost option.

You. Here’s a little pricing secret among developers: annoying people get higher price tags. Now, I’m not saying this is you, but if it is, your developer is probably sitting in a dark room right now pulling his hair out and wondering just how much he needs to charge you to cover the cost of his stress-induced therapy.

Part of development is project management and if evidence indicates that you’re one of those picky, indecisive people who will disappear for months on end, hold the project up then show up with instant demands and want the shade of blue changed with each revision – well, you’re just going to pay a price for that.

Relationships. The world is built on relationships and you can probably negotiate a lower cost if you have a good relationship with your developer, if you’ve gotten a referral from a friend and can do some name-dropping or if you simply find a developer willing to work out a deal with you.

Remember, this is a service industry. There is no widget price. Costs are based on the factors I’ve mentioned here plus “going rates” and about a dozen other little nuances. So don’t be afraid to talk to a developer about the cost. But do keep in mind that there’s a limit to negotiation and a developer who offers you the $5,000 site is unlikely to come down to your $500 budget. At that point you should probably reconsider your goals and budget altogether.

Now That You Have Bit Of Background, Let’s Talk Money

Pricing is not a magic, secret recipe. It’s just the cost of doing business, plus the value of expertise, plus the time needed to complete a project in a particular set of circumstances with a particular set of requirements.

This pricing is based on what I’ve witnessed in the industry, what my company does when it comes to pricing and what I’ve seen works and doesn’t work in the real world.

No doubt some people will cry in outrage about such high prices and some will lament that I’ve given the industry a bad name by coming in so low. But I’ve worked with developers across the country, many good, a few bad, and this is the best consensus I can give you. This is what my competitors will tell you, too… minus a few bucks so they can appeal to your cost-conscious side.

I’m taking a “stacked” approach here, which means that as the price range goes up, you can assume that you get everything in the previous range plus some additional goodies. Of course, this might not be the way it works in the real world. For example, your site may have some specialized programing requirements that put you in a higher price range, but you may already have your logo and branding guidelines so you don’t need any additional creative work. Such is the challenge of creating a budget for a website!

$2,000-$4,000. This is most likely your entry-level range. In this price range you can expect a decent professional to put together a site for you that includes common functionality such as a content or image slider, contact form and opt-ins, photo gallery, blog and a branded design. While this range will afford you a site that goes beyond the generic template-look with features like a designed header or background and consideration for colors, fonts and layout, it’s not going to buy you a completely custom design. Often, sites in this price range are based on a WordPress theme or HTML template.

Even at an entry level you should expect basic optimization. That means your site is built to current code standards and optimized for speed, functionality and fundamental search requirements. While your content may not be optimized, the rest of your site – from basic meta data to sitemaps and other essentials – should be.

What you will not get at this level is copywriting or any content creation. You should come prepared with whatever content you want on your site and that includes copy, photos, videos or whatever else you need, plus your logo and branding requirements.

The bottom line: this is where you’ll be if you’re just getting started, a small service business, or one without ecommerce or data management requirements. Plus platforms like WordPress afford you the convenience of content management without the added expense of custom programming. It’s often a good place to start on a redesign, since you likely have your logo, branding and content ready and will only need to tweak and perhaps reorganize it.

$5,000-$8,000. In this range you can add a fully customized design. This is where you get to sit down with an actual designer and talk specifics when it comes to branding, style and layout. Custom sites tends to be more time consuming to plan and build, so if you have specialized site requirements whether for design or functionality, you can expect to hit the higher end of this range.

You can add basic ecommerce in this category but don’t expect too many bells and whistles.

The bottom line: this is where you’ll be if you want to move past a basic design and if you’ve got fairly simple ecommerce requirements and don’t need anything customized like inventory management.

$10,000-$15,000. In this range you can get quite a robust website with accommodation for more custom requirements when it comes to programming, photo galleries and portfolios, forms, or other functionality.

You should also be able to get some keyword optimization here and depending on the size of your site, you may also be able to sneak in some copywriting. As with the last price range, you should come prepared with your branding materials.

The bottom line: think of this in similar terms to the previous category but with “more stuff” and a couple of added bells and whistles; perhaps multiple photo galleries, quite a few product pages, or more complex user forms. It’s also where you want to be if you need someone with a copywriter’s eye to kick your content up a bit.

$20,000-$30,000. In this price range you can sit back and relax because you can afford to work with a copywriter who will take care of content creation and full-on optimization for you.

It also buys you sit-down time with a designer, not only for your website, but for logo and branding development plus mobile considerations, too, although it won’t necessarily afford you anything specialized like custom photography or video.

The bottom line: this is sort of the all-inclusive vacation of websites. It’s where you want to be if you want to take more of a “hands-off” approach to your website and let the professionals deal with everything from the creative to the content to the optimization and construction, with some bonus collateral materials like business card and letterhead design.

$40,000-$60,000. In this category you can reach beyond “website” into “application”. This is where programming and functionality become so custom that your site is built purely to satisfy your business needs. Very specialized content management systems, inventory management, integration with third-party APIs and other special functionality come into play here.

You can also get a pretty robust ecommerce site with inventory and specialized content management that caters to the nuances of your product line and pricing scenarios. Just remember, the more requirements and the more little details and functionality you add to your project, the higher you go on the price scale.

You’ll get a fully customized design in this category, including mobile and, if you need, branding. However, copywriting at this level becomes more complex as you are likely dealing with product descriptions or other unique types of content so I haven’t included that here.

The bottom line: if you’re a retailer, distributor, manufacturer or other corporate entity with specialized data management or ecommerce needs, this is the place to be. In this range, your developer will create a project specification that details your website needs and then build around them.

$60,000+. That little “+” is enough to mean “whatever you want, sir”. If you’re in this price range you probably aren’t too concerned with budget anymore and there isn’t really a point to discussing limitations.

The bottom line: if you’re a corporate entity with serious internal and external requirements, or maybe a startup with funding and an experimental idea, you can reach for the stars.

What A Website Should Not Cost

$500. If that’s what your site cost, I bet you’ll find at least one fuzzy pixelated photo, at least one mis-programmed form validation, at least one missed optimization opportunity.  Maybe you can get your blog set up for $500, but you cannot build a professional web presence for that little. Even an unskilled developer charging $50 an hour can’t put together an optimized, functional, professionally branded site in 10 hours. Please do not tell me how you know someone who did it because I promise you won’t want me to look at that site and pick it apart.

How To Decide If The Cost You’ve Been Given Is Fair

So now that I’ve given you some pretty broad ranges and a lot of variables to think about, how do you take that and translate it into something that makes you feel confident signing on the dotted line and starting your project?

For starters, if you’re comparing costs between developers, make sure it’s apples to apples – you may not be able to do it exactly, after all there are a bunch of subjective factors involved as we’ve discussed – but you should know what you’re getting in terms of feature set and functionality. Then take into consideration the experience and portfolio of the individual or company you’re looking at hiring, the attention you can expect to receive and the general rapport between you and a potential developer. Even if the cost is perfect and everything else seems right on paper, you may want to think twice about hiring someone if you don’t feel that somewhat ethereal sense of connection and comfort.

Finally, you should consider one of the biggest and most often neglected questions…

…and then what?

Once your website is built, you’re barely part of the way there! You need an “and then what” plan for making sure your site is hosted securely and your data backed up properly. You need a maintenance plan, whether that’s you on a WordPress CMS or your developer making changes for you periodically. You need to stay on top of errors and alerts in your Webmaster tools and you need to get out there and market your website, track its progress via analytics and keep making changes as you learn what your visitors want and need.

That may be the job of your developer, your marketing company or simply you, but it’s certainly something to think about.

At the end of the day, I want you to approach your next web project with a bit more information than you had before so you can read the bottom line on your next proposal and feel confident that you’re being neither stupid nor swindled. With these guidelines, I hope you now have a place to start.

Are you freaked out yet? Do you find my ranges absurdly high or insultingly low? Are you still thinking, “yeah, but what about…?” Let me know! I’m happy to answer questions.

By Carol Lynn Rivera
Please visit websearchsocial.com for more great articles

http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera

HAPPY BIRTHDAY IPHONE: Mobile Industry Then and Now

On June 29th the iPhone celebrated its 5 year anniversary since it was first unveiled back in 2007. It’s pretty unbelievable to look back 5 years and see how much the industry has changed. In 2007 only about 9 million people owned smartphones. Now there are over 100 million smartphones owners in the United States. The iPhone really changed the industry and led the way in the smartphone revolution. Here’s a chart from comScore showing smartphone ownership in the United States since 2000.

ComScore also released a pretty cool demographic profile of how iPhone owners have changed in the past 5 years. The average income of people who own iPhones has come down which makes sense as Apple has made the older models slightly more affordable. Also the large gender gap of original iPhone owners (61% male to 39% female) has been just about closed. Apparently the gender difference is somewhat normal as most early adopters of new electronic products are usually male. So it seems the iPhone is becoming more mainstream and less the hi-tech luxury it was back in 2007.

What’s been most amazing is how quickly this technology has been adopted by consumers .The iPod, a revolutionary product on its own, took 3 years to reach 10 million units. The iPhone reached that total in under two years and the iPad broke 10 million in only its third quarter of sales. Pretty crazy right?  This explosive growth shows why smartphones and the mobile internet are the way of the future. This chart by Mary Meeker and Morgan Stanley shows how much faster mobile internet has grown compared to desktop internet.

They also predict that within the next 5 years mobile internet users will surpass desktop internet. However the industry evolves in the next 5 years it seems clear that smartphones, tablets, and the mobile internet will be a major part in it.

5 Facebook Fan Tips

We have been helping businesses set up their facebook pages and right after they’ll ask us “Now What”? So here are a few simple tips to follow when posting to your fan page. Remember every business is different so not all of these tips will apply to everyone. There is a lot more to learn and lots of great resources out there.

1. Keep it coming
Try and update a few times a week with fresh, relevant material. Don’t go overboard. If you’re flooding the news stream your fans can remove your voice with a simple click.
2. Everyone is special
Whether they are positive or negative comments, try and respond to everyone. A simple “Thank You” or “Sorry about that” can go a long way. Use people’s names when responding.
3. It’s about them
Remember this is a community, not a billboard. Listen to your fans and interact with insightful dialogue. Put yourself in their shoes before posting. Be genuine and your community will be loyal.
4. Be useful
You are an authority in your field. Bring tips, how-to’s and any other information that will help your fans become better and more educated at what you do. Video’s, photo’s and illustrations are just a few of the things you can share.
5. Have fun
If you have a fun community people will bring their friends. Relax and enjoy the company of your fans. Tell Stories. Have Contests and Sweepstakes. Be creative but always maintain your voice. Don’t confuse fun with sloppy. Typos and bad grammar are not very professional.

If you would like a pdf of this to print out click here

4 Great Social Media Links for Businesses

Social Media Icons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social media has become a powerful force in how businesses connect with customers. Businesses that use social media successfully increase brand awareness, engage customers in feedback and support, shape brand identity, generate leads and ultimately increase sales.

These 4 links are great resources for businesses to get started and build an effective presence in social media:

Social Media Examiner highlights 5 examples of ecommerce websites that utilized social media to convincing results. You can pick up on some great strategies that will help retain an audience, increase engagement and brand loyalty using facebook, youtube and twitter.

5 Ways Online Businesses Are Succeeding With Social Media

Awareness, inc. posted this great infographic entitled, “Killer Strategies to Help You Dominate The Big Three.” In it they provide guidelines for using facebook, twitter, and youtube to improving social reach, identify top influencers and applying analytics  to see what works.

5 Killer Strategies to Dominate Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

Mashable created a post on how to get the most out of your business Facebook page. They provide a lot of detail and tips on creating and implementing a more effective facebook strategy.

HOW TO: Get the Most Out of Your Business Facebook Page

Top Rank’s Blog showcases how some of the biggest retailers like Nieman Marcus and Vera Bradley are using Pinterest to market their consumer brand and products.

5 lessons from the top 5 retailers on Pinterest

5 B2C Pinteresting Marketing Lessons From Nordstrom, Williams-Sonoma, Barney’s, Neiman Marcus & Vera Bradley

 

Adobe CS6 Plug-In Updates

Just finished updating our plug-ins for Photoshop and After Effects. To make it easy I set up a list of links that go directly to the download page.

Photoshop Plug-ins:

Nik Software Downloads

OnOne Software Downloads

Alien Skin Downloads

After Effects Plug-ins:

Red Giant and Trapcode Downloads

Frischluft Lenscare Downloads

Video Copilot – Twitch & Optical Flares Downloads

The Foundry Downloads

Cinema 4D Extension Downloads

A full list of AE third party plug-ins can be found here:
http://www.adobe.com/products/aftereffects/extend.html

Adobe Edge Review

So Adobe’s new suite is here and we’re all very excited. Lots of great new features and so far it’s been operating flawlessly (big improvement from cs5) but the new tool that had me pretty excited was Adobe Edge, animating software that exports jquery/css without knowing a lick of code.

This week I finally had a job that allowed me to fire-up Edge and see what it’s made of. The job was simple, an animated banner with basic movement and transparency shifts. This would be perfect to test out the highly-anticipated new tool.

Soon as you launch edge you’re greeted by the slick, dark interface that I immediately fell in love with. The menus and controls are a hybrid of After Effects and Flash so navigating was a breeze. It’s simply import, drop on the stage and edit keyframes for animation, then you have a function toggle to add basic code. Right now the animation choices are quite limited but I’m sure that will change in time.

So let’s get to work, I set up a few positional tweens, a scale down, a few fade-ins and saved my file. Wow, that was easy and took all of an hour to do. Now I go to my folder to check out my cutting-edge “iPad friendly” animated banner… yikes, this thing spit out 8 dependent .js files plus a folder full of images, kind of messy I thought. I’ll live with it, that’s behind the scenes, long as it works. I opened up the html file and it worked but the scale animations were very jumpy, definitely not acceptable. Is the scale animation necessary, eh, not really… so I took that out and saved again. Everything updated nicely and the animation looked pretty good. Great, now let’s get this thing up on the web and call it a day, thats when things got ugly. I set up the banner on a website that had a few other scripts on it and it did not like the newcomer at all. The banner would not work and I was getting conflict errors… I guess you do need to know a bit of code. I played with it for a while without any luck, remember it’s 8 files that I had to scrutinize to try and find the error. After about an hour I opened up Flash did the animation in there and dropped it on the site, no problem. So while Adobe Edge is a good idea I think it still needs some work, granted this is the “beta” version.

Do I see us using this in the future? Possibly for some light banner work, anything more involved than that is definitely still a job for Flash.

UPDATE (July5, 2012): We have found another great application for Edge… Mobile. Our team has done a few simple animated scripts using edge that really bring mobile sites to life. Check out bloommedia.com from a mobile device to see an example.

Pros: Easy to use. Works cross-platform. Slick, dark-interface :)
Cons: Some animations look terrible. Lots of dependent files. Options very limited right now. Javascript conflicts