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12 Steps to Creating an Online Quiz

Are you looking for a quiz creator that is free, interactive, and will engage your audience? Well, look no more, the Center has done a little research and found the perfect quiz creator. Surprisingly enough it is called, QuizWorks.

For the Center, I made an assessment quiz called ‘Are you ready for E-Commerce’.  We previously had a blog that talked about e-commerce and the benefit of it (read here).

Before you begin making your own quiz, I encourage you to take this assessment to see if you are ready for e-commerce and get a feel for the tool you are about to use! Knock two birds out with one stone!

The the quiz here >>

start

Once you have looked at our example and are ready to make the plunge to create your own quiz we have you covered.  Here are the steps you should follow to make a great quiz!

Follow these 12 simple steps and you will be ready to publish a quiz of your own.

Step 1. Go to QuizWorks website at https://www.onlineassessmenttool.com.

Step 2. Begin making an assessment in two different ways, make an account or begin with making your quiz.

Step 3. The site will prompt you to title your quiz right away, but it doesn’t allow you to pick how your results will be shown. So, instead go up to the top of the page and click “assessments”. This will take you to your dashboard where you can begin. QuizWorks has four options for quizzes and you can choose which suits you and your goal best. Your four choices are a “gamified quiz”, “exam”, an “assessment”, and a “course”. Each of these quizzes have different goals and each explains what its purpose is.

quiz

Step 4. Click “New Assessment” and it will prompt you to create a title and then click “New Assessment” again.

new assessment

Step 5. After you have a title, now you will want to pick whether you want “multiple categories” or a “single scale”. Under your assessment title, click “settings” and it will allow you pick. I continued on with the “single scale” option. That is the best for a yes and no type of quiz.

  • Adding questions is the same for the single scale and multiple category options. They differ in the categories section.

singe scale

Step 6. Now you are ready to add the questions to your assessment. The free version only allows 15 questions, so unless you are wanting to get out your wallet you will want to keep your quiz to this minimum.

Step 7. Now, add your first question and the answers. You will see under each answer you can add points for each answer. I will address that in #9.

Step 8. Add all your questions and their answers.

Step 9. Let’s talk points! The points link to your categories for the quiz. So, for the correct answer you will want to put a point value to that (I recommend +1) and the wrong or other answers you will want to put a value of zero. This part is very important because this is how the quiz generates results. So, I’ll use my yes or no quiz as an example. I wanted the quiz to put a person in a category based on the number of yes’s they selected. Because of this, yes is technically the correct answer so on each yes for each question I made them have a +1 point value. On each no, I placed a zero point value on it. If you make it a negative value it will cancel out the yes’s that the person selected.

points

Step 10. Once you have all your questions, answers, and point values finished you are ready to add your categories. Also, this site allows you to change your questions to multiple choice, free text, check boxes, dropdown, and scale. I chose the check boxes option for this quiz.

Step 11. Go back to your dashboard and click on manage categories. This is where I added four categories that correlate to my quiz. You can have as many categories as you wish. With each category, you also need to add points. So, I had a 15 question and 15 point quiz so I broke down my categories by points. I broke them down like so:

Thoroughbred 15 – 12

Goat 11 – 8

Dairy Cow 7 – 4

Don’t Chicken Out 3 – 0.

categories (1)

These numbers come into play in the categories because it will ask you to provide the maximum amount of points to still fall into this category. For each of my categories, it would be 15, 11, 7, and 3.

Step 12: You’re finished! Make sure to save your work and then test out your assessment to make sure it works correctly and it error free. You can find the Take the Assessment link in a few different places. One place is on your assessment dashboard and the second is on the assessments page under your quiz title.

Congrats!

Helpful Hints

  • Want to delete your assessment? Click on settings under the quiz title on your dashboard and it will take to a screen where you can delete it.
  • Can’t figure something out? No worries, the QuizWorks team is extremely helpful. I went back and forth with them and they are super prompt, timely, and supportive.

Tag the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement on your Facebook post or comment below with your quiz link. Good luck and we cannot wait to see your quizzes!

Smartphone Photography 101

Gone are the days where you have to hire a professional or purchase a fancy camera, download editing software to your computer and spend some serious time learning how to use it just for a decent photo.

The power of great photography is in our hands- literally. Thanks to mobile devices, we can take clear photos anytime and enhance them by using one of the many editing apps available.

This new technology isn’t limited to just selfies on your personal social media page, but for your brand too. Photography not only elevates your brand but also creates recognizable identity through visuals for your business.

So how hard can cell phone photography be? There’s more secrets, hints, and tricks than most would think. I’m sure you’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of smartphone photos, and here’s how to make sure your business’s photos rise above the rest.

  1. Use Your Gridlines

first tip

This trick is as easy as a touch of a button. One of the simplest ways to enhance your smartphone photo is by turning on your gridlines. By doing this, a series of lines that are based on the “rule of thirds” will appear on your screen.

Rule of Thirds separates your photo into thirds both horizontally and vertically, or nine parts total. If the subject in your photo is placed in the intersections or along the lines, your photo will appear more balanced and level allowing your viewers’ eyes to flow and interact naturally with the image.

Pro- Tip:

How to add gridlines to any smartphone:
iPhone Users: Go to “Settings”, select “Photos and Camera”, and switch your “Grid” on.
Samsung Galaxy Users: Launch the camera app, go to “Settings,” scroll down and switch the “grid lines” option to “on.”

  1. Avoid Using Your Zoom Tool

second tip

Zooming in can be very tempting when trying to capture something specific from far away. However, this can make your photo pixelated, grainy or even blurry.

To avoid compromising quality, simply move closer to your subject or take the photo from a distance and crop it later. This will keep your image crisp and clear.

Pro-Tip:

For distant pictures, like a sunset or buildings, leave the zoom alone and try to fill the frame. This will illustrate what you want to capture while keeping your photo high quality. Try your hand at some photography elements like the rule of thirds or leading lines when taking these photos since you have more of a frame to work with.

  1. Utilize Natural Light

third tip

We’ve all been victims of the dreaded smartphone flash at one time or another. From red-eye to washing out, flash can negatively alter colors and make images appear overexposed.

Instead of using flash, try to use natural light as much as possible when taking photos. Even at night, capture shadows or other forms of light to create your perfect photo.

Pro- Tip:

Once you’ve selected an image, try using your favorite editing app to adjust the “Exposure”. The best way to do this is to make your photo slightly brighter without making it grainy.

  1. Take Candids

fourth tip

Posed photos are very effective in capturing memories for big life moments, but sometimes, catching others off guard or without them noticing can be far more interesting.

This is because candids capture true emotions and actions right in the moment. The easiest way to do this is taking as many photos as possible. You can always delete what you don’t need later. Having more to choose from is never a bad thing and the slightest movement can affect the quality of the photo.

Pro-Tip:

Use burst mode to get multiple action shots in a row. Smartphones aren’t as ideal for moving photos, but if you want to capture something’s motion, burst mode is the tool for you.

Burst mode allows you to take up to 10 frames per second (iPhone 5s and up) and up to 20 frames per second (HTC One). This increases the chances of getting your perfect action shot. Hold down the shutter button to start burst mode when shooting your shot. It’s as easy as that.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Edit

fifth tip    fifth tip 2

Once you’ve mastered the first step in smartphone photography and incorporated all of the steps we’ve talked about, the next step in the process is critical – editing.

Editing can never take the place of solid photography, but it can be used to enhance an already good photo. Chances are you’ll do this by using a photo-editing app. While the apps available for your phone may not be as powerful as the professional editing programs for computers, they allow you to make adjustments to your photos quickly, with little to no cost for your business.

It may take a few tries and downloads to find what app meets your specific needs. Continue checking your phone’s app store to keep up with the latest photo trends and find exactly what you’re after.

Interested in learning more about photo editing apps? Let us know in the comment section and we can write an upcoming blog over the topic.

Pro- Tip:

Don’t over process your photos. This is an easy mistake many beginning photographers make; I know from experience. Try to get a clear and focused and then edit. Bring out the natural beauty in your shot and take it easy when editing your photos.

Your Turn!

Now that you know smartphone photography 101, it’s time to put your skills to the test and get your business out there.

Our challenge to you is to capture your best smartphone photo, post it on Facebook and tag us (Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement) in the comments. One week from today (June 22nd) we will choose one winner with the best mobile phone image. They will receive a FREE 30-minute social media consultation with our team at the Center.

 

Four advantages of e-commerce and how it can increase your profit

Has your business waded into the world of e-commerce? Nowadays, more and more small businesses are incorporating online shopping platforms as part of their systems. With the ease of access to internet and smartphones, shopping online is convenient and can save customers time and money. The big question remains though; what are the benefits of e-commerce for your small business?

What’s the big deal?

There is an average of $191 million online buyers in the U.S. E-commerce sales were about $300 billion in 2014 and projected to reach near $500 billion by 2018. That’s an increase of 14.3% from 2013 to 2014 when total in-store sales increased by only 4%. It’s hard to ignore those types of numbers, right?

Where do rural and small businesses land with e-commerce?

According to a study conducted by our undergraduate researchers looking at online greenhouse retailing, only 10.1% (n=10) sold products online with a full e-commerce site. One participant sold live plants on Amazon, while four had a downloadable form available on its website. The largest response category consisted of 85.9% (n=85) that did not sell any products online. From this study, it was concluded that many garden centers are not thinking of national markets but are solely focused on local selling. (Read more information about this study here.)

With so many bonuses for integrating an e-commerce system, the four advantages below just touch the surface.

E-Commerce

  1. Unlimited Business Reach

A business operating via brick-and-mortar may have challenges in reaching a wide scope of customers outside of its immediate area. E-commerce has enabled local small businesses to reach beyond the borders of their towns and into international masses. There are few limits to where the internet can reach, people can pay for goods and services from literally any corner of the world.

  1. Increase Sales

According to reliable statistics, there has been a tremendous increase in online sales over the last couple of years. It is estimated that the revenue of a business that incorporates an e-commerce platform can increase up to 250%. This is attributed to the fact that most people prefer the ease of access and convenience that comes with e-commerce platforms. Hello, impulse buying!

  1. Open 24/7

E-commerce makes it possible for a business to be open and easily accessible round the clock without any increase in overheads that a brick-and-mortar may experience. Transactions and payments can continue being made automatically, without your supervision while you’re sleeping. In case the small business deals in digital goods, the business becomes totally automatic – full transactions, including purchase, and delivery.

  1. Attract New Customers

Brick-and-mortar retail is run by branding and relationships. Online retail utilizes those aspects as well, but also has traffic driven to it from search engines and social media. It’s not uncommon to follow a link in the search engine results or from Facebook to land on an e-commerce website that the customer has never heard of.

Real life example: Say your business provides specialty chocolates. A potential customer (me!) is looking for a unique and yummy gift for Mother’s Day. The shopper hops on her phone and googles “gourmet chocolates in Kansas City”. Your company pops up, she searches around a bit and realizes she doesn’t need to drive to KC for the treats, she can have them shipped directly to her grandmother’s door as a surprise. Not only did an online transaction take place, but the next time that person is in KC she might end up in your brick-and-mortar location… Because the chocolates were delish and the user-experience online was simple.

How do you know if your business should be using e-commerce?

On June 22, we will be introducing a blog about quiz making and how it can add to your new-media marketing campaigns. I highly suggest tuning back in because we’ve been having fun creating a quiz to see if your business is ready for e-commerce!

In the meantime, do you have any e-commerce questions we can answer for you? What is something that is preventing you from having an e-commerce site? Leave a comment below, or email us at newmedia@ksu.edu.

7 Tips To Achieve The Best Results With 360° Video

Picture this. A new garden center has opened in town and it’s time for you (the customer) to start your summer gardening projects. You’ve heard great things about the store, yet you’re debating if you want to stray away from your usual to try and tackle an unknown place during the busy weekend. Will the place have what I want? Will its displays inspire my green thumb? Will I be overwhelmed with new options? It would be so easy to just go to the place you already know.

Cue the need for virtual reality to step in. With 360° video followers can experience your store from the ease of their personal devices. The first-person exploration potential is effective because viewers (or ‘users’) influence what they see and can take direct control of the narrative. This experience provides the benefit of having a video post on your social media site while allowing your followers to virtually wander throughout your business.

Need a refresher on the importance of video on social media? Read our blog Let’s talk Video for a quick review on how top priority is given to video content.

My initial thought of 360° videos seemed like it was a concept only available to video pros. However, recently the Center dived into the trend to see how it works and demystify the process. After scrolling through forums, reviewing ratings, and viewing video takes, our team decided to purchase the Ricoh Theta S Digital Camera to use while shooting a video at a local garden center. The main reason the Theta S won us over was its lower price option, yet quality ratings, making it affordable for business owners and hobbyists (you!).

We found our Ricoh Theta SC at Best Buy for around $269.

Over the next few months, we’ll be exploring how 360° video can help enhance new-media marketing strategies for rural and small businesses through focus groups. To kick it off though, here are our initial 7 tips to get the most out of your 360° video.

7 tips to get the most out of your 360° video

  1. The Tripod

The essential tool of the trade, the tripod. Holding this camera won’t do, as 360° includes your face, too. With a tripod, you can capture everything in the room without worrying about obstructions. The traditional tripod works great for shooting large spaces, but anything can be used to stabilize the camera for trickier angles.

  1. Utilize Space

The 360° camera is best for shooting whole spaces, instead of smaller parts of spaces. Use a tall tripod because the height allows you to see more of the space.

  1. Distance is Key

Closer isn’t always better. Since viewers can scroll around the video, close-up objects can be obnoxious. It’s easy to see and understand the space if objects aren’t near the camera.

  1. Ready, Aim…

Along the same vein, 360° video is about the experience, not just the education. 360° video allows viewers to be at the location and experience it for themselves.

  1. Pair Photos with Video

For products you’d like to highlight, we’d recommend using photos along with the video. Photos allow a clearer shot of the object, without taking away from the 360°, vicarious experience.

  1. Minimum Editing Required

For easy transfer, upload straight from the camera app to the internet. Using the low- quality camera of the Theta SC has the advantage of being cost-effective, but the quality is grainy. Editing can enhance the color vibrancy and quality, but converting to and from file formats is tricky, since not every application can play 360 video. An edited video is better, but unedited is usable and simple.

  1. Location, Location, Location

Possibly the most important tip, you want a video that people want to watch. Excitement or curiosity should be the driving factor here. No one wants to watch a 360° video of a hallway. It must be something adventurous or something new, or at least something that not everyone gets to experience daily. Because of limited simple editing, the ideal location is also well-lit.

Takeaways

When it comes down to it, 360° video can be a simple process that allows your customers to become engaged and immerged. By using these 7 simple pointers you can create an easy, professional product that viewers will love.

Have you dived into the world of 360° video yet? We’d love to hear your takeaways in the comments below.

Let’s talk video!

Videos are a great way add flare to your social media platforms and increase engagement.

Why are they good you ask? Facebook’s algorithm likes to gather and share the most relevant information for its audience and guess what? Video tends to be the content with the most engagement!

Video is measured by views, likes, and comments, as well as other engagement within the video such as expanding to full screen and adjusting the audio. So, there are several factors that influence Facebook’s algorithm to give top priority to video content.

But, where should you start with actually shooting the video and editing it? I have your editing questions covered with my list of top free and paid apps! I searched for mobile video apps that could be used to create and edit videos, and here were my favorites.

With that being said, go shoot some video and good luck! 

Video Apps

Free Video Apps

Video FX Maker – only compatible with Apple products, iOS 8.0 or later
Pros:

  • Free!
  • It has a lot of fun and simple effects that can be added to the video easily.
  • Allows user to add text, music, additional effects and voiceover

Cons:

  • The user can’t take video within the app.
  • The app. ran slow and kept quitting.
  • After navigating through the app, I noticed there were several locked effects that require payment.
  • Doesn’t have the screen rotation feature.
  • It has a limited exporting option.
  • Can unlock all the features for $3.99.

iMovie compatible with only Apple products, iOS 9.3 or later
Pros:

  • Free!
  • Has a pop-up help tool that shows what all of the icons mean.
  • Has a lot of sound effects.
  • The user can upload any music or sounds.
  • Has many platforms to export to.
  • Can add text.
  • Great app to make a quick, short and simple video.

Cons:

  • The theme options only worked through the background music and not on the video itself.
  • Limited effects.
  • The user can only manipulate the video in ways of cutting, adding music and filters and adding text.

Puppet – compatible with only Apple products, iOS 7.0 or later
Pros:

  • Free!
  • It has a tutorial when you first use the app.
  • The user can trim the video right in the album when pulling the video.
  • The app allows the user to combine video by uploading all of the videos then recording over top of them to make a new video.
  • The user can add text and effects as the video is being recorded.
  • It has a drawing feature.
  • It has several exporting options.

Cons:

  • Pay attention to the tutorial at the beginning, the app is hard to figure out.
  • There is a limited selection of effects and options.
  • There are no filters available.
  • It has an interesting, yet complicated way of combining clips.

PocketVideo – only compatible with Apple products, iOS 9.0 or later
Pros:

  • Free!
  • The user can pick what type of project you want based on what social media platform you are using.
  • When you export the video, it prompts you to log in to the social media platform you made the video for and you can upload to it straight there.
  • Has a lot of features: text, stickers, drawings, voiceovers, filters as well as other things to manipulate the clip itself.
  • Can video within the app or upload a previous clip.

Cons:

  • When the app asks to access your photos/video, the download took a long time.
  • There are so many features and it’s easy to get lost.

Paid Video Apps

Filmmaker Pro – compatible only with Apple products, iOS 9.0 or later
Pros:

  • Can add illustrations and labels (basically clipart and various premade texts) and manipulate them to change the color, size, as well many other effects.
  • Can add text and work with it in the same ways as the illustrations and labels.
  • Easy to navigate through the app.

Cons:

  • The cost $13.99, which includes all of the app features.
  • It seems free at first but prompts you to buy things in the app.
  • The user can’t really do much without the purchase.
  • Clipart and other effects are hard to find and are under illustrations and labels.
  • This app needs a pop-up help option because it is hard to know what all the icons mean.
  • The app has no filter option.

Pinnacle Studio – compatible with only Apple products, iOS 9.3 or later
Pros:

  • The app has a pop-up help option to identify the icons.
  • This operates similar to Premiere Pro and has many of the same functions but much simpler.
  • It has a very advanced editing system and the opportunity to make really cool videos.
  • It has a layer option to where photos and videos can be placed on top of each other.
  • It comes with a lot of options for design.
  • The user can record video and take photos within the app.
  • The app has several export options.
  • The user can import projects, not just photos, music and video.

Cons:

  • The cost is $12.99, but it can do a lot.
  • This is a much more advanced app so it’s harder to navigate through.

Luma FX – compatible only with Apple products, iOS 9.3 or later
Pros:

  • The app costs $2.99.
  • It has some distortion effects similar to the webcam on your computer.
  • The app allows the user to trim clips, change how the video fits in the frames, edit audio and add effects.
  • It has many effects available.
  • This app has many more frame options than any other app I have seen.

Cons:

  • The app costs money.
  • This app doesn’t have as advanced video editing as some.
  • The user has no option to add text.
  • It has limited options.

Vee – compatible with only Apple products, iOS 8.0 or later
Pros:

  • The cost is $2.99.
  • It has a tutorial at the beginning.
  • The user can record within the app.
  • The user can change the speed of the clip, add filters, trim the clip and adjust the audio and frame
  • The user can add transitions.
  • The user can import their own audio.
  • The app has a lock option when recording is taking place, so you don’t have to hold down the button while recording.

Cons:

  • Costs money!
  • It has filter packs that cost additional money.
  • There are not many free filters.
  • The app has limited features and options.

To summarize, my favorite video editings apps are….

Best free video app:

  1. PocketVideo
  2. iMovie
  3. VideoFX
  4. Puppet

Best paid video apps:

  1. Pinnacle Studio Pro
  2. Filmmaker Pro
  3. Luma FX
  4. Vee

Note: These apps are only Apple device compatible. If you’re looking for something PC or Andriod friendly, shoot us an email at newmedia@ksu.edu and we can help you find something that will work!

Happy Birthday, RuralEngagement.org! We Are Stronger Than Ever

I am writing this post from a kitchen table in a farmhouse in Iowa. Across the table from me is Hikaru, working on a manuscript, and Lauri, wrapping up grant proposal themes. It’s writing retreat time for our team. Since Hikaru works for the University of Minnesota and Lauri and I work for Kansas State University, we’ve begun having these writing retreats about twice a year. We try to meet somewhere in the middle (Iowa, often) and block out a few days to reconnect with each other and focus on tasks related to our Center work.

The work of the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement as well as our learning resource, RuralEngagement.org, is to strengthen and empower small agricultural business operators to navigate the fast-paced world of new-media marketing. We share that information through research, our New-Media Marketing Bootcamp, Facebook, and this blog. This month we have been celebrating our team and the work that we do together. If life is all about relationships (and it is), then we have some of the best relationships around. Our students are like family, and we really, really enjoy working toward common goals together.

What are our common goals? Easy: Teaching, Research, and Extension. Often mixed together in good measure!

Teaching: Lauri teaches a course called “New Media Technologies,” as well as a course on undergraduate research in agricultural communications (among several courses she teaches). Just last week we took a group of these students to several garden centers in Manhattan to try out our 360-degree video camera. More on that soon. We also have two amazing undergraduate interns: Anissa Zagonel and Mikhayla DeMott who assist with blog content, content curation and other random things that we or our Interim Managing Director, Courtney Boman, needs.

Research: At our last writing retreat we focused on writing journal articles for research (both graduate and undergraduate) from the last few years. This year, two of our papers have been published (below) and we are finishing up edits and final preparation for two more.

  • Stebner, S., L.M. Baker, H.H. Peterson, and C.R. Boyer. 2017. Marketing with more: An in-depth look at relationship marketing with new media in the green industry. Journal of Applied Communications (In Press).
  • Stebner, S., C.R. Boyer, L.M. Baker, H.H. Peterson. 2017. Relationship marketing: A qualitative case study of new-media marketing use by Kansas garden centers. Horticulturae 3(1), 26; doi:10.3390/horticulturae3010026.

Yesterday, we spent the entire day talking, planning, and brainstorming our way through three grant proposals. One is teaching-related (again, more on that in the future) and two others are integrated research/extension projects. It was super fun to have a late-night light bulb moment to address reviewer concerns on one of the proposals we are revising. It was quite the animated (and loud!) discussion–I took notes as fast as I could! We brought along Lawson, Lauri’s 8 month-old son, who was fascinated by our sudden change in demeanor, especially Hikaru’s excited hand movements. It was good–those moments are the best!

Extension: RuralEngagement.org, Facebook, and our New-Media Marketing Bootcamp are the primary ways we reach y’all with all the cool stuff to help you tell your agricultural business story. We’ve already been working on the next New-Media Marketing Bootcamp–Lauri is teaching a “special topics” course on Strategic Event Planning with several of our undergraduate students and they have been learning the ins-and-outs of budgets, hotels, catering, etc. In fact, you are the first to know that we’ve booked the Bluemont Hotel (near Aggieville in Manhattan, Kansas–The Little Apple) on February 27-28, 2018 for the New-Media Marketing Bootcamp. Save the date!

In summary, we are going strong and excited to continue moving forward toward our next birthday (and the next!). We love helping people create better lives and better livelihoods for themselves through their agricultural businesses. Whatever form that takes–from social media and other new-media marketing tools to e-commerce and analytics to storytelling and website development–we are ready to lead the way!

 

Make Your Content Shine

Ever see graphics from a friend or company and wonder how they became so design talented or have money to hire a graphic designer? Prior to this year, I thought I had missed the train when it comes to creating graphic content myself… But don’t worry, I’ll let you in on a secret soon.

We know the brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text. According to John Medina, “when people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.”

So it seems pretty important we have visual content.

blog graphic 310

Brain Exercise:

I am a regular quadrilateral, with four equal sides and four equal angles (90-degree angles or right angles).

What am I?

A SQUARE

How did that exercise go for you? If you were able to answer from the description, good job! I think you are one of the few who could. But, your customers probably can’t and they CRAVE visual content. How do you give it to them? Let me introduce you to an inside secret to designing content… Canva!

Canva is a free, online tool that allows users to edit photos and create multiple forms of visual content. Anyone can use it and you don’t have to be a design pro (trust me!). You can create a Facebook graphic in just 7 steps!

canva infographic

Now, before you enter this newfound creative world, here are a few tips:

  • Pay attention to fonts and don’t mix-and-match too many
  • Make sure your colors add to the graphic and don’t make it too busy
  • Consistency is key

There are A LOT of tools out there to help create graphical content. It comes down to what works best for you. I know you’re probably a busy person who wears multiple hats and adding graphics to your social media probably isn’t on the top of your list. Can you really turn down the extra engagement that comes with it? I can’t.

Happy Canva’ing!

March New-Media Marketing Challenge

Calling all small business owners looking to jazz up their online presence! Start your social media off right this month by taking part in our March New-Media Marketing Challenge.

During this month’s challenge, you will be asked to:

  • Post a Facebook Live video – With Facebook’s current algorithm, Live videos are pushed to the top of your followers’ news feeds. By utilizing this video tool, you will be increasing your chances of being seen by your followers and hopefully engaging with them.
  • Plan a content calendar (for your blog, social media platforms, or e-newsletter) – It can be a tedious task to do, but they pay off is great. Try planning out your month’s content calendar to reduce the workday stress of posting on social media. You don’t have to have a post everyday, but try to think of a few ideas for each week.
  • Create or use a pre-existing hashtag in your social media posts – In using hashtags, you are compiling your post to other related posts and making it visible to a wider audience. Hashtags are commonly used to identify messages on a specific topic and group them together. For example, during the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement’s New-Media Marketing bootcamp, we used the hashtag #newmedia2017 in our posts.
  • Produce your own Canva-generated or in-house graphic – Research has shown graphics are more likely to receive engagement on social media versus a text-only status. Try your hand at Canva.com to create a fun and free. If you’d rather have just a picture, try showing a behind-the-scenes look at your business or something exciting going on in your store.
  • Promote your social media platforms through in-store posters – We sometimes tend to forget that gaining followers online can be something we can do in-person. Try adding a sign by your register that urges customers to “Give us a like on Facebook to stay up-to-date with our store!” Another idea to gain an audience is to have a sign-up box for your e-newsletter. Be sure to include information about what topics you might cover in the email, so they can know what’s coming their way. Then have the customer write their email and name, viola! You have easily added another follower to your brand.

The challenge is set-up so you can move at your own pace throughout the month of March. Take on one of the five challenges each week and send us a screen shot on Facebook or by email for the chance to …

All participants have a chance to be featured on our #FollowFriday spotlight where we will highlight small business’s taking big steps with their social media. Participants will also be entered to win a 30-minute consultation with us to assess your current social media presence!

Want to join in on the fun? Either message the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement on Facebook or shoot us an email at newmedia@ksu.edu to sign-up!

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Ready for Bootcamp?

It’s almost time! We have been busily wrapping up loose ends in preparation for our New-Media Marketing Bootcamp next week. What will you see? What will you do? What do you need to bring?

On Tuesday, February 7, the first thing we’ll do are pre-conference tours. After we meet at 11:30, we’ll head to Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue for a fantastic Kansas City feast.

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Next we’ll head to The Roasterie: Air-Roasted Coffee to tour and chat with their marketing specialist.

To top off our tours, we’ll head to Family Tree Nursery to chat with owner Jonah Nelson about how they manage and market their garden center.

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Okay, so maybe it won’t look exactly like this, but there will be plants and a gorgeous remodeled garden center to enjoy.  Seriously…what a treat!

When you arrive you’ll be greeted by the front desk at the DoubleTree Hotel (pardon the Holiday decorations in our photos). Don’t forget to make sure you get one of their famous cookies!

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They also have lovely dining areas.

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The conference area has nice wide hallways and windows all along one wall so we’ll have good light for practicing photos and videos in the hall.

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One of the primary reasons we chose this facility for our conference was the abundance of green spaces for the photo and video sessions. Granted, it’s not summer and therefore totally green outside, but we’ve got several choices so you’ll be able to spread out (as opposed to only spaces in the building or out in the parking lot).

BRING: camera, smartphone, chargers, connectors, microphone and/or any other equipment that you already own and would like to practice using more.

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If you’re planning to attend the Facebook Deeper Dive: Analyzing the Performance of Your Page session, we’ll be in this tiered theatre-style room with power outlets at each seat.

BRING: your laptop computer, charger, and data from your facebook page. If you’re not sure how to do that, we can help you. We have ample Wi-Fi for the meeting.

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Wednesday evening, we’ll have a lovely reception on the deck (if the weather holds).

BRING: Your appetite! We will have loads of delicious food for you!

Thursday morning we’ll continue the general and breakout sessions, ending at lunch. If you’d like to stay for the RetailWorks conference in the afternoon, well then please join us! Here is the agenda:

1:00 p.m.          Opening Comments, Green Industry Trends for 2017

Dr. Cheryl Boyer, Kansas State University Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources

1:45 p.m.          2016 Plant Disease Highlights

2:30 p.m.          Meet the Pests! (Hands-on practice with turf and landscape weeds, diseases, and insects)

Dr. Megan Kennelly, Kansas State University Department of Plant Pathology

 3:00p.m.          Break with refreshments

 3:20 p.m.          Apps for Agritourism

Dr. Lauri Baker, Kansas State University Department of Communications and Agricultural Education

 4:20 p.m.          Closing Remarks, Cheryl Boyer

So, get packing and we’ll see you next week!no earlybirdblank-NMMB Postcard V2 112816_Page_2.jpg

Social Media Trends to Look for in 2017

It’s that time again. With each new year, brings futuristic thoughts and opportunities it could bring. Most of us like to know what’s in store and plan accordingly. So, to make life easier when navigating your small business’s social media platforms, I’ve created a list of the top 5 trends you can expect to see on your timelines.

Disclaimer: I can’t see the future. However, that would be quite helpful in many aspects of my life. If you do know someone can predict the future, please send them my way. These are my thoughts after doing some research and reviewing of past trends and social media’s current position. Take it as you will.

  1. Video, video, video

You heard it all through 2016, and you can bet your bottom dollar you’ll hear about it more in 2017. Video content capabilities have been integrated into almost every social platform out there. Not only do we have the option to create regular, ole videos. We can now live stream our videos and share 360 degree videos with our followers. Expect to see videos (long, short, live, aerial or 360) in not only your social media mediums, but also in emails. By adding short videos into your mailing list emails, it can better tell your business’s story and promote your brand.screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-1-44-13-pm

2. Virtual/Augmented Reality

Cue the Pokemon Go era this past summer! (If you missed out on that trend, no worries. You can still check out the previous blog that covers it here What Can Pokémon Go Do For You?!).

What exactly is virtual or augmented reality, you ask? Fabulous question. My definition is: probably the coolest, out-of-this-world thing ever. As for a formal definition that is actually useful, TechTarget describes it as: “Augmented reality is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input. Thus, providing a composite view.”

While I don’t expect you to be applying and creating these videos yourself, it does help to know about them and be ready to participate if a trend arises. What I mean is, don’t be afraid to jump on the next Pokemon Go bandwagon and have your small business take part in the fun.

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3. The name is Content. Paid Content.

Ever wonder what you would do if social media was taken away? What I mean is, what if all our favorite platforms were no longer free?? Not to scare you, because I don’t see that happening by any means, but I do see the need for paid content rising. While platforms can’t completely take away social media, they can change the algorithms of the content we see. They are becoming increasingly different and slowly losing their ability for organic (un-paid) content to reach all our followers. For the future, we will need to be even more strategic in our content that we post and build our online following in innovative ways.

4. Employees as Advertising

I know what you’re thinking, and no, they aren’t standing on a corner dressed in a costume twirling a sign.

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Nevertheless, employees can still be great voices and advocates for your small business through THEIR personal social media. As we’ve said before, spreading your brand recognition is key to acquiring the trust of your followers and future customers. If you’re curious on ideas that employees could post or share, stay tuned to our blog for a future post regarding content ideas. Just make sure your employees are representing the business in an appropriate way, and you’ve got yourself a free, simple way to spread awareness.

5. Social Shopping?

By entering the online world, what might be a small, local business can turn global. No longer are you tied to a certain location, you can promote your product at any time, to anyone. There are so many outlets now that allow businesses to promote product and sell online. Pinterest, Etsy, Facebook, Instagram and Amazon are all great option to name drop a few.

My favorite part about this trend is that the Center is having an upcoming New-Media Marketing Bootcamp (learn more here!) that will have several session touch on brick-and-mortar, along with online e-commerce. Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, founder of Retail Minded and national spokesperson of Small Business Saturday, is a retail guru and will be speaking at our New-Media Bootcamp. I can’t wait to get her take on brick-and-mortar, along with online shopping. Our Bootcamp will also have a special e-commerce section on what to consider before taking the plunge to selling online. An easy way to get number 5 checked off your list of research to-dos!

Beware! My crystal ball has been known to be wrong before, but I’d expect to see more video, augmented/virtual reality, paid content, using employees as advertisements, and e-commerce expand. I invite you to attend our New-Media Marketing Bootcamp in February to learn how to tackle any of these 2017 trends. Visit ruralengagement.org/bootcamp to learn more.

Do you have any different ideas of what will happen in 2017? Leave a comment! I would be delighted to hear from you!