August 25, 2009

Sharing what you do to develop working relationships

Lets face it, as a designer many people think what we do is magic based on a mood or whim. The challenge is to develop relationships and show people there are reasons we do the things we do. Developing a good relationships is a lot of work, but well worth it.

Here are some things I have done in my career to foster good relationships, help build the brand and explain what I do.

Talk: When I worked for a larger company I would walk around every morning and talk to people. See how it was going, what they were working on and offer to help where I could. This is hard because as an In House Designer I had a full schedule, but I thought it was important. Another advantage is sometimes I could see things coming that I needed to get ready for and spot possible problems, like brand issues. I'd like nothing more than to crawl into my cubicle, put my IPod on and zone out, but sometimes grabbing a cup of coffee and heading down the cubicle rows can be rewarding.

Cheer Lead: I'd love to claim this idea as mine but it was our HR managers. We got an old monitor and computer and put it up in the main hall. I sent emails out asking what people were doing outside work. I got hobbies, baby and wedding announcements and garage sales, etc. I also asked for sales info and new deals the sales team was working on. I used a looping powerpoint show, if I had an old Mac I would have used Keynote. It played on the monitor all day and people would stop and check it out. I also did slides about using the right logo and font, and I made sure the presentation fit the company brand. This gave me contact with all the other departments and helped reinforce the brand.

Push Info: A weekly newsletter is another fun way to get info out and have a reason to make contact with other departments. In one issue I did a story about the new fountain in front of the building that looked like a satellite dish. I retouched a photo of aliens by the fountain and said they were putting a communications device in front of the building. People loved it and would stop by and ask how I did it. It was fun, got people to talk to me and gave me the opportunity to show a little of my photoshop skills.

Communicate: When ever possible tell people what you're doing and if you can, show some science behind it. Color psychology, why you wanted an image facing a certain direction to pull the readers eye in that direction. Share articles about why a strong brand is so important. Make them understand what you do is not just your whim. Show them the method behind your madness.

Pro-Bono: Help someone with a garage sale flyer, or side business, you might even get a freelance customer out of it. I did a logo for a fellow employee that was starting an online storage business. In trade he gave me some storage space, but the people that came by and commented about how they liked the logo, and gave me an opportunity to share why I did it was the real benefit.

Be sure to check with your boss to make sure they are okay with all of these, You don't want them feeling like you're undermining them or being distracted from your job. As crappy as it is, designers have to deal with the reality of office politics all to often.

An interesting post in the Pushing Rock Blog on this topic.

Have fun making new friends and explaining your skills.

August 11, 2009

Tracking Twitter

I must admit, when I first heard of Twitter my initial reaction was, What, 140 characters, micro blogging, how stupid is that. Well that was a about three months, 350 tweets, and 110 followers ago, now I'm hooked, and with anywhere between 2.5 million to 10 million accounts worldwide, (Twitter is keeping this under their hat), you can't afford to ignore Twitter.

Twitter Takes Time

I will be first to admit that twitter has the potential to suck the life out of my morning schedule. Marketing is about the numbers, knowing the effect my message is having, or at least how many people it's getting to is the only way to know if the time I'm spending is worth the effort. So if I am going to give some of my already busy schedule to Twittering I need to be able to see what happens to my tweets.

Google Analytics

I am a designer, not an SEO expert, so I am just going to relay, in the simplest terms, what I have done to be able check my twittering. For a really detailed approach to measuring your tweets check out this blog post by Hendrylee.

The first step is what do you want to measure? You may have a specific goal, driving traffic to your website of blog. You can track clicks from twitter but your going to have to have something like Google Analytics to measure what happens on your site or blog. Here are some links to help you add Google Analytics to your varies web assets.

Google Analytics
Add Google Analytics to your Blogger blog.
WordPress plugin for Google Analytics

Another reason to add Google Analytics to your assets is because you can take your Twitter feed and add it to your blog or website. If people click through a Twitter link from your blog or website you would have no way to track that.

Twitter Tools

There are a lot of ways to send and follow your twitters. I have tried a few and like a couple of them a lot. I have to admit The one I like the most is not the one I use. I like TweatDeck and Seesmic. They look great, work well, save searches, group people you follow, run multiple accounts, and they are AdobeAir programs so they run on any computer platform. The draw back is they have no tools to measure Twitter click throughs. There is a way to measure your clicks though, it's called Bit.Ly. You have to sign up for a account and be sure to use Bit.y to shorten your links in your tweets. This means re-shrinking links in the tweets you re-transmit, if you want to track those. That is extra work, but how serious do you want to be about tracking click throughs? There is a good discussion called, A Simple Way to Measure Twitter Effectiveness, about how Bit.Ly works on the Meteor Blog.

I use a program called HootSuite to monitor Twitter. It does much of what TweatDeck and Seesmic does, but it has statistics about your tweets when you use Ow.Ly, the URL shortener in HootSuite. You still have to re-shorten the links you re-transmit, but that's the cost of knowing. It also lets you schedule when your tweets post so they go out when your followers are online. The thing I don't like about it is it's web-based. I like to keep my Twitter Dashboard, as TweetDeck, Seesmic and HootSuite are called, open all the time, this is difficult in a web browser. The way I get around this is to use a program called Fluid. Fluid is a web browser that uses very little system resources and lets you close all of the navigation and menus so it looks like an application. Unfortunately for some, it is a Mac application.

Other Statistics

Tweet Stats lets you see statistics about what and when you are twittering.
See how your followers are growing on Twitter Counter.
The following sites have some Statistics about Twitter:
Twitter statistics that make you go "hmmmm"

So good luck and good tracking. Remember, knowledge is power.