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To Schedule or Not to Schedule

How Hootsuite & Other Content Schedulers Can Help Your Social Media Strategy

Love it or hate it, there’s no avoiding social media these days. Whether you’re a brand, an individual, or like us, an agency who manages social accounts for other businesses – social media needs to be part of your marketing strategy. It’s a fantastic place to showcase your brand and keep a meaningful conversation going with customers (and potential customers) in an engaging way.

Easier said than done. Social media can be overwhelming, whether you manage one account or ten. Algorithms change, content seems to move at the speed of light, and the ‘best practices’ of yesterday may not be the same today.

One solution to lessen the stress? A social media content scheduler. We use Hootsuite, a user-friendly dashboard that lets you manage multiple networks and profiles, schedule content in advance, and even measure your posts’ results.

Before we take a peek at what Hootsuite can do, let’s talk about scheduling content. No matter how many social profiles you manage, we highly recommend creating a content calendar and planning your posts out in advance. When you create a plan like this, you’re inherently encouraged to take a more intentional, strategic approach to the content you share (rather than sit there staring at a blank caption box, scratching your head about what post on a given day). It allows you to mix up your content, from photo and video to blog posts and graphics, offering a variety of means to keep your audience engaged and interested. And of course, it takes the pressure off coming up with a post idea the day you need to share it.

There are a variety of content scheduling tools available – and many of them offer free options in addition to more advanced plans – but Hootsuite takes the prize for us. We love the way this tool allows us to break down all facets of social media: by platform and by client, organized into customizable “streams” for easy viewing.

Here’s what our Hootsuite dashboard looks like on a given day, highlighting our DARCI Creative Instagram streams:

Notice how we organize our dashboard: by posts that we have already made, scheduled posts to go out, and posts from other accounts that we have ‘liked’. We even created relevant streams based on location (Portsmouth, New Hampshire has its own stream for all posts marked in that location), as well as relevant hashtags like #branding.

Now let’s take a closer look at the scheduling feature. Whether you’re looking to post on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, it’s easy to attach media forms like links and images, set a custom date and time to post, and tag a specific location. Save a draft for later or schedule it immediately to publish at the specified time – how easy is that?

We’ve found Hootsuite’s scheduling tools especially useful for Instagram. And now, all scheduled Instagram posts are automatically posted to Instagram for us (whereas the previous method of Hootsuite sent a “push notification” to our phones for us then to manually publish the post at the scheduled time). It’s easier than ever to plan ahead on social media – and a lot less stressful, too.

We hope you’ve been inspired to revamp your social media strategy, plan out content in advance, and use a scheduling tool like Hootsuite to stay on top of your social media game.

And if you need a hand, let us know how we can help with your social media efforts. We’ll craft and manage a strategic plan that will drive growth for your business and keep your brand top-of-mind in today’s noisy world.

 

Alanna Hogan
DARCI Creative
Copywriter & Executive Assistant, Social Media Manager

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Like Mother, Like Daughter

What My Mom Boss Has Taught Me About Life & Biz

“You look like you could be related to Darci!” is a phrase I’ve heard a lot over my years working at DARCI Creative. Every time, I smile and laugh. Surprise! I am her daughter. And, proud of it.

Then usually comes, “That’s amazing! I could never work with my mother.”“How is it working together?”… Working together is wonderful and is something I am so grateful for. Not only is she the woman that raised me, but she is also my best friend, role model and the person I admire most in this life. However, to work for her requires all the skills she’s taught me in life and then some. Here are a few things my Mom Boss has taught me about life and business:

Trust Your Intuition – Growing up this was something my mother always said. And it always paid off one way or another. It’s just as important to follow your intuition in business, as well. She wouldn’t be where she is today without it and neither would I. This mantra allows her to produce her best creative work and allows me to provide our clients with quality campaigns that achieve exactly what they are looking for. That photo in the ad proof doesn’t look quite right… trust your intuition, work with your team to find the perfect image. The script for that television commercial isn’t flowing… trust your intuition, step away from it and come back with a fresh perspective to write something that really grabs the target audience’s attention. You won’t regret it.

Hustle With Heart – My mother knows how to hustle. She built this agency from the ground up. In the beginning it was just her – now she has over 30 clients, 8 employees, sits on a number of non-profit boards and is a large contributor to our community. None of this could have ever been achieved without her hustle, her heart and her drive to provide for her family and others. Working for someone with that drive is contagious and encourages the entire team at DC to work their hardest and exceed her greatest expectations. Growing up watching how hard she worked to do something she really loved was truly inspiring and has influenced me in every aspect of my life. When it comes to my family life, my work life and personal goals, I am dedicated to achieving my goals and dreams with a hustle and whole lot of heart. One of our favorite quotes is, “Do something you truly love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Sure, not every day is easy, but if you’re committed and truly love what you do, it’s all worth it in the end.

A Work/Life Balance Is Key – I recently listened to an interview with one of the original founders of Home Depot and current owner of the NFL Atlanta Falcons Team, Arthur Blank, and he said something that really stuck with me. He said, “I always made sure there was balance in my life. Because too many young executives, men or women, their attitude is that you got to work now, work hard and, you know, put my career on fifth gear and go, go, go. And I said when you return home in 10 years, you’re not going to recognize your kids and your spouse is going to look at you and say, ‘Who are you again?'” As I listened to this interview with this man who has achieved so much success in his life, I couldn’t help but think of my mother. As hard as she worked my entire childhood, she always made time to show up for my brother and I. And she taught me that you can have a career, raise children and be successful, but it’s so important to find balance in your life. Whether that means you work a little bit earlier in the day to make it to your daughter’s dance recital, or you work all day on a Sunday so that you can go on a field trip with your son’s 5th grade class – in ten, twenty years from now you’ll be happy you did.

I could go on and on about other important life lessons my mom has taught me, but I’ll stop here. Trust your intuition, hustle hard and find the balance in every day and you can achieve great things. Oh, and don’t forget to laugh!

Daniele Hosser
DARCI Creative
Senior Account Executive

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A Copywriter’s Guide: Crafting Your Unique Voice

There are a lot of ways to say the same thing, but changing your words can make all the difference.

In marketing – scratch that, in life – communication is everything. It’s not about what you say; it’s about how you say it, right?

At DARCI Creative, we’re champions of communication. We believe that language is an incredibly powerful tool – powerful enough to spark wars, create peace… and in business, convince people to get behind a brand and hand over hard-earned money for the products and services that brand provides. How else is Apple able to release iPhone after iPhone, worth hundreds of dollars (and arguably not a necessary upgrade), and leave consumers raving, I need that. The power of language.

With a knack for the written word, we help businesses of all forms with content development, from website and digital ad copy to newspaper features and radio scripts. Creative copywriting is kind of our specialty, and today we’re sharing a few tips and tricks for fellow copywriters and business owners alike to craft a brand’s voice and tell a story. A story that speaks volumes.

Dig Deep Into Your Brand
Before anything else, it’s important to ask yourself what kind of voice your brand will carry through each marketing message you put out. Is it humorous? Professional? Punchy? Consider your product or service and the tribe you want to gather. The better you can speak to them and connect on a human level, the more successful your marketing efforts will be.

Add a Little Personality
Speaking of connecting with your audience, show them who you are through your copy. We find that a lot of clients hesitate to use emotion in their marketing messages; maybe they think it lacks polish or is too “out there”. But we all have hearts and we all feel things. And the best brand marketing? It makes you feel something because of great writing, no matter what you’re selling. So don’t be afraid to insert your own unique voice and style to grab the attention of your readers. Your brand may be based on a more serious tone, but that doesn’t mean your content needs to read with a monotonous voice.

Cut Out the Fluff
Remember those school days when you struggled to reach a word count on that dreaded term paper? You’d make your point, restate that point with different language, and maybe weave in unnecessary filler words hoping it all worked cohesively? We’re glad to say those days are over, and in the realm of professional copywriting, fillers are killers. So do be yourself, but don’t overcomplicate your content. Keep your messaging clear and concise. Tell your audience what you came to tell them. You only have so many seconds to hold their attention before they move on to another website, another article – whatever it may be. Make those words count!

Organize Your Content in a Visually Appealing Way
Whether you’re writing a blog post or creating a brochure, give your words the chance to shine. Select a font that’s non-distracting and easy to read, and break up your copy into paragraphs or bullet points to give your words the space to breathe. Feel free to add a little oomph to your text through bold, italicized, or underlined characters. But do us a favor and exercise restraint here. These effects are made for emphasis and should be used in moderation. Because you definitely want to avoid yelling at your readers (for example, speaking in ALL CAPS OR USING TOO MANY EXCLAMATION POINTS!!).

Finesse (Because Grammar Always Counts)…
Always write with a healthy dose of grammar in mind. Be careful to avoid those pesky mix-ups like than and then, you’re and yourthey’re, their and there. Mistakes like these will kill your credibility (and honestly, thinking about it makes us cringe).

… But Give Yourself the Freedom to Play
Grammar matters big time, and sometimes there’s a clear right and wrong when it comes to word choice. That being said, language is incredibly subjective, and when it comes to things like sentence structure, punctuation and the like, we’d encourage you to consider the rules as guidelines. Each writer has his or her own preferences when it comes to the written word, and if you want to use a hyphen where your colleague would use a semicolon – use that hyphen all day. (Sorry, ‘grammar Nazis’.)

Oh, and one more thing: proofread everything. Seriously. No one likes to see tyops littred throghout what was meant to be a professional piece of writing. ‘Kay?

Sincerely,
A Language Lover

Alanna Hogan
DARCI Creative
Copywriter & Executive Assistant, Social Media Manager

G is for Great Writing


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R is for Real

 The Case for Authenticity

photo 3If I could give you one word that sums up how to create and build a powerful Brand that works, it would be ‘authentic.’ Keeping it real is not just something you want to aim for in your romantic relationship, after all. Be real with how you communicate with your audience. Getting real about who you are as a company is the absolute first step to creating a Brand that is unique. Once you are clear about who you are and what you offer, you will have clarity about who your target audiences are. Who’s going to resonate with your Brand? Is it young, busy moms? High net worth individuals? Retired baby boomers? It makes a big difference when you truly understand your audience and you can communicate with them authentically. They will be drawn to what you’re selling when you are real.

 

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P is for Perfect

Positioned for Success
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As Westerners, we spend a lot of our waking hours (and one would guess, our dreamtime too) reaching for perfection. The concept that ‘nobody’s perfect’ has been written about, sung about, filmed about … and yet we are inundated with other imagery and messages that conflict, that make us believe on some level, just maybe, perfection is attainable. And so we set out, either consciously or unconsciously, seeking and striving for the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect partner, the perfect kids, the perfect car, the perfect meal, the perfect friends, the perfect Brand Strategy, the perfect website, the perfect blog post, and on and on it goes. No wonder we’re exhausted. No wonder so many of us turn to ways of escaping all this pressure to be perfect.

We might take a lesson from ancient Japanese wisdom. Wabi-sabi is a notion which nurtures what is authentic by acknowledging three simple truths: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect. Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, irregularity, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the objects and processes of nature. In a word, I would call it peace. An acceptance and understanding of what is. A calm acceptance that life is fluid.

How does this relate to Brand Marketing? As Marketers, we spend a lot of time defining our target audience. What makes them tick? What do they want? What I’m finding these days is that no matter who our particular audience is, they generally don’t want more pressure to be perfect. They want to be inspired, they want authenticity. These days more people are reaching toward the Japanese world view of wabi-sabi. We are looking within more. Letting go of outside influencers that contribute to our need for perfection (which by the way, does not exist). It’s just more sane, really.

Ever since I adopted my puppy, Brodie, a couple of months ago — I have really noticed a change in my perspective. I’m lighter. I’m finding joy in simple things like crisp November morning walks, writing a great headline (although I’ve always appreciated that!) and being woken up way-too-early by the happy spirit of a 5-month old puppy who can hardly wait to start another day. Brodie is helping me be more flexible, too. To see that I can have fun and still be productive. This slight shift has me looking at new ways to approach my work. To be open to the constant changes and find perfection in the fleeting moments in between the big presentations, deadlines and campaign launches. Living a balanced life knowing that nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect seems like the perfect way to position yourself and your business for a rich and creative life. Like a way to position yourself for success.

I don’t entirely agree that ‘nothing is perfect.’ I do believe we experience moments of perfection; a breath-taking sunset, the smile of a loved one, laughter of a child, or creating a beautiful ad that inspires. If we can spend more time appreciating those perfect moments, knowing that nothing lasts and nothing is finished we can learn to be more present and less focused on what’s missing from our less-than-perfect lives.

Brodie

Brodie

 

 

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N is for Novice

Experience Gets It Done.

kkkkkkWe hosted our annual Holiday party last week, which by the way was also our 5th Anniversary celebration and an outstanding evening. While DARCI CREATIVE is still a relatively young business, I’m what you might call a “seasoned vet.” Having dedicated my professional career to helping businesses establish a strong marketplace position for nearly 25 years, I have a trick or two up my sleeve. That brings me to this past Sunday’s New England Patriots game. The Pats played the Broncos and I was introduced to the lightening rod that is Tim Tebow. I was fascinated, as, it seems, is most of the Nation.

So I did a little research. Tim Tebow was born on August 14, 1987. He’s a Leo. And still so young. But, a really good kid who plays football and does everything else in his life for God. Noble. And great fodder for the media. Tom Brady, our man here in New England, was born on August 3, 1977. Also a Leo and a bit more private about his spirituality. Brady’s got 10 years on Tebow, and has faced a lot more adversity than the current NFL ‘It Boy’. For those of you who are not fans of astrology let me explain to you that Leo’s love the limelight. They thrive on being in the spotlight. Leo’s symbol is a lion — which makes them proud warriors and born leaders. (Bill and Hilary Clinton are both Leos, btw.) So these two handsome guys are really well-matched from a psychological standpoint. The difference is experience.

Like a lot of inexperienced players (read: all individuals who are new to something – like marketing) they’ve got drive, they’ve got spirit, and like the familiar cheer goes: “if they can’t do it no one can!” So Tebow was on fire out of the gate. He was in love with his life, in love with that moment, and you could see in his eyes, he was sure he was going to win. But guess what? Tom Brady knew more. With his classic, calm focus, he was determined to find a way to get it done. And that’s just what he did play by play.

I’m not great at sports analogies — because I just don’t know enough about sports to be witty and relevant — but this match-up struck me. It was palpable the way that Brady led the Pats to victory and that Tebow had the talent but not the know-how. I watched a video of Tim’s and in it he said, “I’m a big fan of saying ‘hard work beats talent where talent doesn’t work as hard'”.

How does this relate to Brand Marketing?  I think the key here is that talent + hard work + experience = victory.

It’s like this. After 25 years in the field I know things. Yes, I’ve got talent or I wouldn’t have survived this long in such a competitive arena. And yes, Tim, I’ve worked hard. Really hard. But it’s the focus and strategy that wins the game. Many clients are kind of like Tebow. They’ve got enthusiasm for what they do. They believe in their mission. And, (when it comes to marketing) they are often guilty of committing a bit of hubris, which is a Greek word meaning excessive pride. This leads them to believe that they know more than they do in a field where they have very little experience. If you’re searching for a way to boost your business, hire the experienced pros.

Our job is to nurture the enthusiasm and tame the beast. Let us make the strategic decisions even if you don’t like them — because experience plus talent gets the win. Oh, and on Sunday, December 18th? New England Patriots 41, Denver Broncos 23. Boom.

 

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M is for mmm-mmm good


The Power of a Good Tagline.

asdfowkfI’m a huge fan of great lines. It’s so awesome when something is delivered in a few words that really captures the reader (or the listener) and communicates the essence of a company or product. Like a lot of marketing terms these lines go by several names: slogans, taglines, straplines, or even mottos. But I refer to them as Positioning Lines to my clients. That’s because the string of words that you place alongside your logo and your company name are key critical to establishing your position within the market place.

Here are 5 tips to creating a great Positioning Line. 1. ID: It needs to support — and stay consistent — with the brand name. (eat fresh) 2. Sticky: Great positioning lines stick around because they’re memorable. (‘Does she… or doesn’t she?’) 3. Positive Benefit: You want to convey the consumer benefit for using your product or service in a positive way. (Just do it.) 4. Shine: With so many competing messages in an overcrowded playing field it’s important to set yourself apart with a creative and original Positioning Line, ie, don’t be boring and don’t do what others do. (Have it your way.) 5. KISS: Keep it simple, stupid. This is one of the toughest things to achieve. One word is rarely enough and 7 is usually too many. (Stronger than dirt.)

I think “mmm mmm good” is a much more successful line than, “It’s amazing what soup can do.” What do you think?

Let’s play, “Name that Brand.” Click on the Your Thoughts? link and tell me how many brands you can name for the lines I’ve used above as examples.

 

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H is for Honesty

Truth in Advertising.

photo 2A few years back, someone said to me, “You’re too honest to be in business.” I was stunned. What an interesting thing to say. Add to that, that the business I’d chosen to be in was advertising! It’s something that I’ve never forgotten. Why is it that we have this notion that to be great in business you have to be a schemer or a wheeler dealer? I look at my business as an integral part of my life. Why then would I have one face at work and another for the rest of my life? I think a lot of my success with marketing comes from helping clients to be honest about who they are and what they are offering. It’s in that honest inquiry that some of the best advertising is made. It’s during that process of establishing what makes a client unique that allows us to mine for gold. I think we’re all pretty savvy about when we’re being jerked around. We can tell when an advertising message is authentic and when it’s just … not. I’m really proud of the work that we do. I feel we are providing a valuable service by helping our clients to articulate who they are and what they are about. Some business people are all about the sale, it’s true. And those are the people who want to gloss over the essence of who they are and send out slick messages to lull consumers (or potential clients) into buying their product or service. So, while in many ways, my chosen field has a bit of a bad rap, it’s not the way I choose to do it. I equate branding with authenticity. And by definition, that’s honest.

 

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G is for Great Writing

Connecting emotionally with your audience.

photo 1What makes the difference between an uninspired headline and a great one? Emotional connection. If you can evoke emotion from a reader, that means you’ve captured their attention. If you’ve captured attention, you’re much more likely to get the type of reaction or response you’re going for. The thing is, lots of clients hesitate to use emotion in their marketing messages. Maybe they think it lacks polish, is too out there or too risky. There are lots of ways to say the  same thing, but changing the words can make all the difference. Take a look at this video from UK content developers, PurpleFeather.

If your copy doesn’t evoke an emotion, it fails to really connect with the reader. So many ads and marketing messages miss the boat by simply stating the obvious. (I’m blind. versus It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it.) (Or, We sell Widgets. versus  Our Widgets Will Make You Sing.) Sometimes a client will argue that we’re speaking to engineers or contractors or some other narrowly defined demographic where emotion doesn’t ‘apply.’ And I always say, engineers  (or whomever) are people too. We all have hearts, we all feel things and the best brand advertising and marketing makes you feel something because of great writing. No matter what you’re selling.