3 Surprising Patterns of Reading Online:

eye2While writing content for online environments you must think of the following paradox: reading is the PRIMARY action performed on the web. AND people try to read as LITTLE as possible (online) 20%!

So the goal for any visitor of your site is to scan as efficiently as they can to understand whether they like what they see or not (in which case they will click away).

Continue reading 3 Surprising Patterns of Reading Online:

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5 ways to generate compelling visuals for your content marketing and e-learning

collageAs the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words… well, maybe not a thousand, but 1.5 words at least. We do remember pictures better than we remember words. Studies by Paul W. Foos and Paula Goolkasian shed light on the difference between memory for pictures and words. They found that pictures were correctly recalled about 1.5 times as often as printed words. Researchers at the University of Iowa James Bigelow and Amy Poremba have found that when it comes to memory, we don’t remember things we hear nearly as well as things we see or touch.

Since visuals win the memory challenge, it only makes sense to incorporate them in your content presentation if you want it to be memorable. I once received an email from a member of a LinkedIn group after I posted a comment on one of the discussion threads. Something in my comment triggered his memory of an image I had shared in the same group many months before. He wasn’t sure but thought I might be the one who had shared it, so he emailed me to see if I could give him the source of that image. This illustrates the fact that visuals are memorable and that your expert brand can be associated with and reinforced by the content you share. In order to be effective, your visuals need to reinforce your message, be unique, and be able to stir some emotion or reflection in the viewers so that they could connect to your content on a deeper level. How do you find or create such visuals?

1. Stock up. There are numerous websites where you can search and legally download Creative Commons (CC) license or royalty-free stock photos. Always make sure you understand the restriction on the use of such images. Here are some of those websites:

Wikimedia Commons is a database of 23,769,240 freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute.

Flickr is another popular site where you can use an advanced search to find CC images.

Microsoft Office offers visuals you can use.

freeimages has a gallery containing over 350,000 quality stock photos by more than 30,000 photographers.

Getty Images now allows to easily embed and share its imagery at no cost for non-commercial use on websites, blogs and social media channels through their embed tool.

While stock images can get the job done, don’t underestimate your ability to produce your own visual content. Just pick up a camera, even if it’s your smart phone camera and begin to look around. Our surroundings abound with the rich and complex material that can help you tell your personal expert brand story. Train your eye to see it. It is easier than you think. Here are a few tips to get started:

2. Organize your existing photo collection. Chances are you already have plenty of good, funny, personal images tucked away somewhere on your computer drive or in photo albums. They all tell your story. Take time to go over your collection with an eye to possible future business use. It is a fun thing to do. Plus, it can trigger memories that may result in new stories to tell about your personal brand and your business. We did just that with our Halloween post when Marina found an old photo of us dressed up for Halloween.

3. Start taking pictures – lots and lots of them. Get in touch with your own sensibilities. Look at other photography sites and photo sharing platforms, such as Instagram and Pinterest. Notice what appeals to you and why. What moods, styles, colors, patterns resonate with you most? What makes you laugh, think or inspires you? Start capturing those “snapshots of the moment” – often mundane but also funny, puzzling, memorable aspects of your reality. Notice patterns and disruptions. Our brains constantly search for patterns and make predictions to make us comfortable in our environment. Studies show that bizarre and grotesque images are especially effective at grabbing attention. People tend to spend more time on such images as they try to figure out what is going on in the picture – their brains are busy deciphering the pattern. Be ready to capture anything surprising, bizzare, humorous, unusual – such images are likely to provoke thoughts and appeal to emotions. Analyze your own work just like you did with other people’s photos. Use Flickr or Instagram as a way to filter and store the photos you like, get feedback from your followers and grow your own collection of visuals that can be later used for various projects.

4. Turn your content into a collage. Here’s how it works. Pick the key elements and relationships that describe your concept. Then, find images that you associate with those elements. You can browse magazines if you want to make it low tech or find images on the web if you want to create your collage in a digital format, or maybe, you can sketch them yourself. After you are done collecting your visuals, arrange them in a collage trying to reflect the relationships among the underlying elements. The benefit of a collage is that it allows you to see the concept as a whole whereas the verbal description can only be sequential. Collages can serve as visual metaphors, allowing for personal interpretation. Visit Creativity Portal to explore various collage resources on the Internet.

5. Get moving with video marketing. Videos offer a great way to promote yourself as an expert, speaker or author. According to comScore, website visitors are 64% more likely to buy a product on an online retail site after watching a video. In addition, visitors who view videos stay on the site an average of 2 minutes longer than those who don’t view videos. People have short attention spans and tune out easily. Keep your videos under 3 minutes in length. You can do a series of videos on different topics. If you use a webcam to record your videos, make sure you position yourself in the center, look into the camera, choose an appropriate background, and have light facing you. A webcam does not have the energy of a live audience, so you have to bring your own energy up through your body posture, smile, and variations in your pitch, tempo and volume. The good news is that you can re-record any number of times you want, so you get the result you like. Whenever you upload your videos onto video sharing platforms, such as YouTube or Vimeo, make sure to use appropriate keywords and links to your website to build traffic and subscriptions to your email list.

Ready to package your expertise online? Sign up for a FREE consultation with Marina and Anastasia!

Don’t let Negative People Scare the Living Bejeepers Out of You Online!

A and M

Whether you run an online business, are very active on social networking sites, date, or study online, you will inevitably meet people who will send you negative messages or leave unpleasant comments on your site. Often negativity online is expressed even more intensely then in face-to face situations because of the so-called “disinhibition effect”, according to which people express themselves more freely online than in a traditional setting because of invisibility and delayed response. Today we will give you 2 “don’ts” and 3 “do’s”  to help you raise your energy on this scary pre-Halloween Thursday.

#1  Don’t bring in “the Terminator”

It is very easy to get pulled into the negative energy and start acting on the same level as the offender. We believe that there is nothing more destructive that you can do for your own reputation (and your own sanity!) than escalating into a flame war (term created by Anastasia!). In the end, nothing is resolved and everyone walks unhappy.

#2 Don’t sink and sulk

Don’t let the negative comments affect your self-esteem and your overall happiness. Unfortunately, humans are wired to skip over or disbelieve the praise and hold on to the criticism. We, women, often let negative comments affect us on a deeper level and remember them for a long time. However, learn to see negativity as a sign of your success. The more you rock as a business woman, the more negative comments you will receive!   Nowadays, I look at such remarks and tell myself that I must be doing something right and even thank my negative guests for contributing to my SEO optimization. (Hey, the more comments I get on my posts, the higher up my website goes in the search engine!)

#3 Use “Love never fails” strategy

I usually try to remember this wisdom and respond with gratitude to any negative comment. I thank the writer for taking their time to express their opinion and promise to take it into account. You will see that this works like magic, and your “so-called” offender may become your #1 fan!

#4 “Build a Finesse Sandwich”

If you really need to stand your ground and defend your point of view, remember to do it with class by creating a “finesse” sandwich.

First start with a “thank you”– you need to neutralize your opponent.

Then prove your point and end with best wishes.

 #5. Use ‘0 tolerance’ rule for bullies

If you are a target of cyber-bullying, do not respond. Do not give it ANY of your attention… nothing, zero, NADA! Block the bully, unfriend them, or ban them from your site. You can also use reporting tools to show offense online.

Now, in the comments below tell us how YOU deal with negative people?

 Ready to package your expertise online? Sign up for a FREE consultation with Marina and Anastasia!