Design 101: Resizing an Image for Social Media Graphics and More

If you are on social media you know that you need images, lots of them, preferably not stock photos.   If you have something that you like, but it doesn’t quite fit into the social platform’s specs, you are going to need to resize it.  On the surface, this is a simple task. The basic “how to” is the same on most programs, though the display options may appear different places. For example, in Photoshop you need to go to “Image” and select “Image Size”. In MS Paint, there’s a dedicated button labelled “Resize”. They both serve the same function but, depending on the complexity of the program, they will have different limitations. When resizing an image for social media, here are a few things to keep in mind:

What is an Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratio refers to the ratio between the height and width of an image.  When resizing an image for social media you will want to take into account the different aspect ratios for different platforms.  They are a bit different. There are only two options when you resize an image: You can either maintain the aspect ratio or not. Maintaining the aspect ratio means that when you resize the image, it will keep the same ratio between its height and width. If the aspect ratio is changed, the image may become stretched out as you resize it. This tends to be visually unappealing, though small changes might go unnoticed.

Good Resolution = More Appealing Image

If you’re using very simple image editing programs, this option might not be available. However, if you or someone you know can do this, it’s a neat trick.  Resolution defines the clarity of an image and is often represented by either the DPI (dots per inch) or PPI (pixels per inch). DPI is a term used for printing an image, whereas PPI is used for digital displays of images.

In general, the minimum DPI/PPI accepted as “hi-res” is 300. That means for every square inch of space the image occupies, there are 300 pixels. If you are ever asked to increase the resolution of an image, keep in mind that this will automatically make the image larger. You are adding pixels to the image when increasing the resolution. If you do not increase the size of the image along with the DPI/PPI, it can often cause an image to turn out a bit blurry. What if you want to increase the resolution but not change the size? Allow the image to scale up when the resolution is changed. Afterwards, it can be resized back down to the desired dimensions. This helps preserve the quality of the image.

 Resizing vs. Resampling

Most modern image editing programs are good at preserving quality, so long as you use the proper steps of resizing. Photoshop and the like will have more options when it comes to resampling, rather than resizing, an image. When resizing, you either take away or add pixels and other data related to the details of the image. Resampling is a process that helps fill in for these changes in data.  It ensures the result is as true to the original image as possible.

Unfortunately, if you need to make drastic changes in size, there will inevitably be some loss of quality. Since resizing an image down results in a loss of data, it can lead to a more pixelated or sharp look. Resizing up can end with a more blurry or softer look, since programs will fill in missing pixels.

It’s best to try and get the highest quality original image that you can from the start. If you’re going to need a specific set of dimensions or resolution, do your research ahead of time. This can help avoid the need to resize altogether. Otherwise, the smaller the size changes needed the better, in terms of maintaining quality.

Whether you’re working on your next Instagram post or designing a book cover, hopefully this helped clarify some terms from the complicated world of digital image editing!

High Quality Reels: A Beginner’s Guide

The head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, recently announced that Instagram is no longer just a photo-sharing platform. This announcement created some confusion, but is no cause for alarm. Since the release of Reels, Instagram has been leaning further towards short form video. Today, I’m going to talk about how to make a high quality Reel. 

What is a Reel?

A Reel is a short-form video on Instagram that is under one minute. They are designed to entertain and have a strong organic reach. 

Three Steps to Make High Quality Reels

Hook your Audience in the First Three Seconds

Attention spans on social media are extremely low. In order for your Reel (or any social media content) to be successful, you have to stop the scroll. This means catching their attention quickly by quickly stating the problem you are going to solve for the watcher. 

Provide Value in Your Video

Although “value” has become a bit of a buzzword, this just means that you are not creating fluff. Share content that entertains, informs, or inspires so your audience can see the value you have to offer. 

Your hook gets people to your video, but the value provided is what makes them stay and consume more of your content. 

Use a Call to Action in Your Reels

People will not engage with your content in the way you want them to unless you tell them how to do so. If you want people to comment, tell them! All of your Reels should have a CTA to maximize your engagement.

Do I Have to Make Video Content?

You do not have to make video content, but you should. Video content has consistently been shown to be more engaging and effective than other types of content on social media. People enjoy consuming short-form video content which is why TikTok has been such a success. 

Pro-tips for High Quality Reels Content

Create a series around something you are passionate about and knowledgeable in. You do not have to dance or point to make a Reel that performs well, you just need to show up consistently with valuable content. 

If you have any questions about how you can use Reels in your social media strategy, please contact us. 

Other Helpful Posts

Instagram Insights: A Beginner’s Guide

Expanding Your Organic Reach on Instagram: Video Content

3 Social Media Metrics That Do Not Matter

Social Media 101: TikTok and Book Promotion

 

What Does it Cost to Hire a Publicist or Digital Marketing Consultant?


If you are an individual or a small business, the question of what does it cost to hire a publicist or digital marketing consultant is an important one.  If you are just looking for an intern to post for you on Facebook and Instagram and you aren’t in need of a professional strategist, plan, campaign, etc., then this may be more than you need.  If you are investing in your business, career, product launch, or all of the above, then read on.

Several years ago I wrote a blog about hiring a publicist and it continues to generate traffic and interest.  Although the goals of these jobs are the same, the tools we use and the way we go about getting the job done has changed.  Instead of becoming less demanding as a result of a shrinking traditional media landscape, our jobs have grown.  In order to be successful we have to grow communities, sell to target audiences, conduct events virtually and in person, and get press attention every time we hit a goal.   The cost to hire a publicist or marketing consultant is going to be based on the level of experience of the person/team and the amount of time your project is going to take.  The more experience, skills, and services you want, the larger the budget.

What Does it Cost to Hire a Digital Marketing Consultant

I specialize in individualized brands, which include authors, experts, academics, thought leaders, and specialists of any kind.  Most of these people develop their images on social media in order to gain the credibility they need to sell something or be featured in the mainstream media.  The best way to do this these days is through social media.  There are so many firms out there offering social media services it is very difficult to know what to pay or what you should get.  Here are a few services to look at when you are deciding who to hire:

Plan and Strategy: Whether you are already on social media and are not getting the results you want, or you are completely new to this world, a strategy and plan are important.  A lot of people will worry about posting more and creating cool content without understanding how much their efforts are achieving.  You need to know that in order to make a difference and accomplish your goals.  Firms that offer these services should be spending at least four to six weeks working on your plan and strategy and additional time teaching you how to implement it.  The cost: $10,000 – 20,000.

Monthly Content Development and Posting:  This job requires a range of things from writing blogs to designing graphics and composing posts on multiple platforms.  It will require materials from you including photos, boilerplate copy for your business, and any slogans you use.  Video content can come from you directly in the form of single, in-person commentary, or be developed further by your marketing team.  This may also include running ads.  Posting will include a content calendar, scheduling, and analysis.  The range of costs: $600/month for a single campaign on one platform – $2,500+/month on multiple platforms.  The cost is dependent on the number of platforms and the amount of content that needs to be produced and scheduled.

What Does it Cost to Hire a Publicist?

I’m sure if you are Lady Gaga you are spending many thousands a month to have a PR team run your brand.  At that level you have someone listening and monitoring your brand on social media, planning, posting, blocking press and news stories, granting interviews, and more.

For our purposes, we are going to stick with a more general level of service and cost.  Again, there are many service options and people who offer them.  I differentiate them in a couple of ways “plug n’ play” and “customized campaigns”.

“Plug n’ Play”: These services are usually very reasonable, but they are limited.  If you are looking for someone to accomplish a part of the job for you, like offering a list of media contacts or pitching a set number of outlets, this would work for you.  The costs: For a limited campaign or service: $hundreds to purchase lists; $5000+ to be pitched to a specific list of contacts and scheduled for reviews or interviews over a short period of time (6 – 14 weeks).

Customized Campaigns: A campaign like this could involve regional and national media, bloggers, influencer targetting, event planning, national media, and speaking engagements.  Depending on whoever else is on your team it could also involve social media and brand management and marketing.  If you are looking for long term public relations for yourself and your brand the costs are usually set monthly for a contracted period.  If you are planning a single product launch or book launch then the campaign is usually set up as a “project” and charged accordingly.  The costs: $3,500 – 5,000/month for a retainer/contract, $20,000+/project.

Whether you are looking to grow your brand, business, or product, it is important to have a plan and a way to execute it.  Hiring an expert is an investment.  Being informed about the services and costs will help you determine what you will pay to have done and what you will do on your own.

Getting from Goals to Tactics in Social Media Marketing

Working with a marketing group recently I realized that many people have a difficult time getting from goals to tactics in social media marketing.  The tendency we have is to set a goal and then reiterate the goal in different forms in the additional planning stages which are: Goals-Objectives-Strategy-Tactics.  I have learned that improper identification in each of these categories can:

a. have you running in circles trying to get to the goal.

b. cause tears of frustration because you spent hours with a team discussing your high arching goals and when you got back to your desk you realized that no one on the team has any idea of how you are actually going to achieve them.

c. cause you to give up on goal setting because, heck, the goal is to grow, right? Who cares how we get there?

Sound familiar?  Here is how I distinguish the categories, which makes it easier to understand the process of getting from goals to tactics in social media marketing.

What are Goals?

I’ve learned that goals are not specific.  I used to think increasing followers on a social account was a goal.  Wrong.  A goal is what you will achieve for your business/career/interest by increasing the follower count.  So the question to ask yourself is, what do you need or want to see happen in the future?  Are you looking to sell a product?  Start a workshop? Build a community around an issue to affect change?  These are your goals.

Business Objectives and Strategies

These steps are more quantifiable.  Let’s say my goal is to build revenue around a new product line for my business.  Right now I sell shoes and I want to add handbags as an additional sales stream.  The objective would be something more measurable such as selling an average of 10 handbags a week over the next eight weeks.

The strategy is about how you are going to sell those handbags.  Will it be a new promotion to current customers? An Instagram promotion with a branded hashtag?  Facebook Ads? Google Ads?  Are you selling online and in brick and mortar stores?  If so, you need to make sure your online promotion aligns with what you are offering in your stores. (It’s important that these things match so you don’t alienate any of your customer bases.)

 

Tactics are your To-Do List

The tactics are literally the things you will do on a regular basis to implement your strategy, meet your objective, and accomplish your goal.  In this case, if you want to use a strategy based on your marketing to your current customers with an exclusive sneak peek and sale, you might want to use these tactics:

  1. Send out an announcement to your current list about the new line and follow up for two weeks with teasers leading up to the “opening” to current subscribers.
  2. Start a Facebook group for Insiders or use another platform to curate your most dedicated customers and use a campaign similar to your email marketing to capture people who don’t open their emails regularly.

Each goal may have more than one objective and/or strategy that you want to use.  You need to list your tactics for each one as specifically as possible so you know how you are going to get what you are aiming for.  For an introduction to different social platforms and how to use them, download our eguide.

Back-to-School

I recently enrolled in a Master of Science program in Digital Marketing after years (ahem) of marketing and selling across all platforms (terrestrial and cyber) and multiple industries.  I have always been skeptical of what you can gain from an advanced degree when you have a lot of applied experience.  Well, for this lesson, my big educational moment is about reinforcing the process and its importance.

I lean toward the creative category of business persons.  Although I am also very good at execution and management, I have a lot of ideas.  When you are working in a marketing discipline ideas and follow-through are great.  But you need to be clear about what you are doing or you could waste time.

I have found that this style of structured and disciplined planning makes it much easier to manage and quantify progress.  I suppose in the internet age of marketing “old dogs” really can and must always learn new tricks.

 

Social Media 101: Instagram Updates

What’s New?

With over 800 million monthly active users (users returning to the application each month), Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms in the world (Dustn.tv). This application is beat narrowly in web traffic by Facebook and Youtube, which you can read about in our recent post. Instagram didn’t earn its massive audience overnight -this social media staple has been around over nine years- so what’s new with Instagram updates since its launch?

Instagram Stories

Following the example of Snapchat, Instagram rolled out its story feature in August of 2016. Almost half the app’s following use this Instagram update daily (Hootsuite).

  • How to use it – You can either tap the camera icon at the upper left-hand corner of your app, or, if you haven’t already added content to your story, the plus (+) sign at the bottom edge of your photo in the story bar. This bar borders the top of your feed. Via either option, a camera view will fill your screen. You can select from several options in a scrollbar at the bottom of this screen, which we break down below:
  • Type is the brass-tacks option among the story features. This is a text-only post that allows you to choose from “Modern,” “Neon,” “Typewriter,” and “Strong” as themes at the top of your Story window. Type excludes the extras available in other Story features including filters, stickers, etc.
  • Music allows users to search from Instagram’s library via query, or by “Popular,” “Moods,” and “Genres.” Once you’ve chosen your song, you cut a clip of your choosing (up to 15 seconds in length for copywrite purposes) and post away. You can also use this feature second-hand in other Story features to give your content the perfect ambience.
  • Live allows you to interact with your audience in real-time. Once you hit “Go Live,” a feed of your viewers’ comments will begin. You can also invite any viewer to join your live -eager fans or fellow authors can really liven up your stream and build great relations between you and your following.
  • Normal is the option your Story camera defaults to. You can tap the circle, center-screen, for a photo and hold for a video. Like the other features, you can add a filter to your photo or video by tapping the sparkling smiley icon at the bottom right hand corner of your screen. After a photo or video is taken, you can add a filter; sticker (this includes location, @mentions tagging other users, hashtags, and even music just to name a few); drawing, and/or caption.
  • Boomerang uses an app that you download externally to access via Instagram. Boomerang is the trendy app that allows you to take a short video and turn it into stop-motion, repeating piece of content. Whether it’s opening your newest book or sipping a cup of coffee, Boomerang can add a modern edge to your Instagram story.
  • Superzoom is a feature that gradually focusses on a face throughout a video, as it is video only. While Superzoom focusses on the targeted face, background objects and people are blurred. You can select from five different filters to add the right mood to your post. Superzoom also excludes the extras available in other Story features.
  • Focus is similar to superzoom in the way that you target a face with your camera as the centerpiece of your content. The major difference between these two features is that you can make Focus a photo or video. Focus also excludes the filters available in superzoom, as well as the extras that other features include.
  • Rewind is another video-only feature that simply plays the content you record in reverse.
  • Hands-Free allows you to record a video without holding down the center button. Otherwise, for the features including video mentioned previously, you must hold down the center button to record. Releasing the button ends the video you’ve started -excluding the Live feature.

The Instagram Story is a great way to generate quick and consumable content for your audience without much planning; one in five Instagram stories get a direct-message response. This feature can tap into the potential audience you’ve been missing all along!

Instagram TV

IGTV was launched June of 2018, a function inspired by Snapchat and adopted by Facebook as well. Essentially, this Instagram update provides a host of channels that cable networks can’t with this innovation. Each show stars a celebrity or person of interest and lasts only minutes. IGTV not only introduces a new set of outlets for you to plug yourself and your book, but you can also create your own channel.

  • How to use it – By tapping the television icon in the upper-right-hand corner of your app, next to the direct message icon, the IGTV feed will open. There you will find a cog; upon tapping the cog a prompt to create your own channel will appear. You can either upload videos from your mobile library or record one from the application. There is no landscape layout to this feature -vertical videos only, making it optimal for mobile use. IGTV is great for users who want to publish videos longer than a minute to their Instagram audience.

If you find yourself struggling with these new Instagram updates, don’t panic. We have an infographic that breaks down the basic functions of Instagram for beginners.

Stay posted for more great information on social media for authors!