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Renewable Electric

Goal: Design and develop a Responsive Website that showcases services offered and has a very visible call-to-action above the fold. Write custom content that will connect with both Residential and Commercial customers yet remain easy to read.

Services Utilized: Website Strategy, Website Design & Development, Content Development

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Keweenaw Chain Drive Festival

Goal: Design and develop a Responsive Website that focuses on both experienced and beginning mountain bikers and draws families into the festival.

Services Utilized: Website Strategy, Website Design & Development.

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Dassel State Insurance

Goal: Increase brand awareness, website traffic and conversions rates by designing a website that focuses on free online quoting.

Services Utilized: Branding, Marketing, Logo Design, Website Strategy, Website Design and Development, Local Search, Online Marketing

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Social Media: 2012 Review and 2013 Predictions

The social media gurus have spoken. Here at SmartCreative, we’ve eased back into 2013 sipping on coffee and sifting through dozens of 2012 social media recaps and 2013 predictions. From our humble office in Downtown Houghton, Michigan to all of you throughout the Upper Peninsula and beyond…I present to you SmartCreative’s 2012 Social Media Review and 2013 Social Media Predictions!

2012 Social Media Wrap Up

Growth. A few 2012 social media stats to boggle your mind: 1.01 billion monthly Facebook users, 175 million tweets were sent every day in 2012, Instagram hit 80 million users, and Pinterest hit 10 million U.S. monthly unique visitors faster than any independent site in history. More fascinating social media statistics and figures from 2012 here.

EdgeRank continued to be a moving target. EdgeRank changes on September 20, 2012 favor positive personal and compelling content. (EdgeRank is an algorithm developed by Facebook to govern what is displayed – and how high – on News Feed. More on EdgeRank here).

Promoted Posts and Sponsored Stories. Promoted Posts allow marketers to pay money to guarantee exposure to fans who previously liked your business page, but are no longer interacting with your page or receiving your posts on their News Feeds. Sponsored Stories are Facebook Ads that appear in the same places Facebook inserts other ads throughout the site and reach the target demographic you define. In 2012, Promoted Posts and Sponsored Stories proved more engaging than Facebook sidebar ads. More on Promoted Posts vs. Sponsored Stories here.

Facebook announced Timeline for Pages in February 2012. The Cover images make a positive first impression for fans deciding to like your page and provide much more branding opportunity.

Facebook became a publicly-traded company in 2012.

Facebook bought Instagram. The mobile photo-editing and sharing outlet saw its users explode from 15 to 80 million since Facebook acquired the company in April and became a valuable platform for brands, particularly retail, to show off visually-stunning products. An interesting fact: more people are using Instagram at work than any other social media platform.

Pinterest became one of the hottest and fastest-growing social media platforms in 2012. It’s especially popular with women; a whopping 97% of Pinterest users are female! In November 2012, Pinterest became more business-friendly by launching business pages for marketers. The connection between browsing and purchasing is very clear; retailers are reaping big rewards from Pinterest.

2013 Social Media Predictions

Social Media expert Mari Smith declares 2013 the year of the video. 85% of internet users watch online video. More compelling video content will mean more online visibility. Besides, brainstorming video content ideas, writing video script and executing the video is downright fun (especially for your SmartCreative team!).

Facebook will be laser-focused on Facebook Mobile. Improvements and innovations to FB mobile are expected to come our way in 2013.

E-commerce will meet social media in 2013. Social media platforms will get up to speed with eager consumers and make it possible to purchase via social media. Batten down the (checkbook) hatches – imagine being able to easily purchase all those beautiful products seen on Instagram and Pinterest!

In 2013, visual marketing must be snack-sized. With so much internet clutter, fans are craving snackable bits of content such as gorgeous photos, clever infographics, and sophisticated comics.

Content marketing will reign supreme in 2013. The content your business cranks out must be better than ever: concise, well-written, inspiring, and informative. Click here to get ideas on creating content your audience wants to read and share.

Twitter is expected to rake in $400 million in annual revenue, also in 2013, Twitter could start “personalizing” your Twitter feed based on an algorithm similar to Facebook’s EdgeRank. More 2013 Twitter predictions here.

Well, there you have it. A round-up of all that glittered in social media in 2012 and all that’s to come (we think!) in 2013. How did social media impact your business in 2012? What do you hope to see from social media in 2013?

Great Deer Chase

Goal: Design and develop a Responsive Website that draws in mountain bikers of all skill levels to a number of races.

Services Utilized: Website Strategy, Website Design & Development.

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Our Top Five Blog Posts of 2012

For your reading pleasure, the following are our most popular blog posts from 2012.

5. Who benefits from the latest version of WordPress? Read “WordPress 3.5 Released, Tested, Approved”

4. An exciting time for a fantastic client! Read “Website Launch: Great Bear Chase”

3. Why do we choose to use a platform that allows clients to update their own site? Check out “Why We Use WordPress”

2. What did we learn at a lunch and learn? Read “Robert Grede and Naked Marketing”

And our most popular blog post of 2012 was:

1. Out with the old, in with the new! Take a look at “DesignUp is Now SmartCreative”

Did you catch them all? Did you learn or need to add anything?

Clean Energy Pathways

Goal: Develop a new website and web page content for Clean Energy Pathways in a Content Management System.

Services Utilized: Website Strategy, Website Development, Content Development

Visit www.cleanenergypathways.com.

Clean Energy Pathways Website Design

WordPress 3.5: Released, Tested, Approved

Today WordPress has been updated to version 3.5 and brings along a ton of new features for developers and users alike. The platform is said to be more user-friendly and the media uploading experience has been totally reworked.

While the new Dashboard interface does not initially appear to be all that different, there are subtle design tweaks and a more minimalistic feel than WordPress 3.4. Buttons are cleaner, the editor toolbar is rearranged and redesigned and (finally!) the image icons and old ‘Upload/Insert’ button has been replaced by a new ‘Add Media’ button.

about-mediaClicking the new ‘Add Media’ button opens a new, much larger Insert Media window than before. The ability to drag and drop files anywhere onto the screen is great and seeing large thumbnails (instead of a list with tiny thumbs) in the Media Library tab is a fantastic update. The other thing I noticed is that files seem to upload faster and, with larger files especially, it is truly awesome to be able to add Titles, Captions, Alt Text and a Description while the file is uploading!

The new WordPress Gallery functionality simply rocks. Seeing the large thumbnails makes it very easy to select which images you want to include in a gallery and the ability to add any of your images to a gallery is awesome. Select the images you would like to show, click ‘Create Gallery, reorder images as you see fit and click ‘Insert Gallery’ is all it takes to insert it into a page or post.

Some of the other improvements in WordPress 3.5 include a ‘Retina Ready’ Dashboard (for anyone with high-resolution screens), a better color picker and better accessibility for touch and mouseless devices.

All in all, I’m a huge fan of WordPress 3.5! Let me know what YOU think!

Robert Grede and Naked Marketing

Scott and I were recently invited to a Lunch and Learn organized by local business incubator MTEC SmartZone. Robert Grede is an accomplished marketing consultant, professor and author of marketing and branding books. He has local ties to Marquette and Houghton/Hancock. I had a chance to hear him speak while I was attending Finlandia University (I won’t tell you how long ago that was). As a marketing student, I read and was riveted by his book Naked Marketing: The Bare Essentials. I jumped at the chance to hear him speak at Lakeshore Center yesterday.

In this faster-than-light world of social marketing, it’s refreshing to, literally, get back to basics and remember old school marketing principles. Here are a few takeaways based on Robert Grede’s presentation that we couldn’t wait to share with all of you:

  • Your website is the portal to your company.
  • Have a mission statement. 100% of Fortune 500 companies have one. Your mission statement should inspire and direct you and your employees.
  • Let your mission change with what the customer wants.
  • People buy a product, not for the packaging design or even the product itself; they buy a product for the augmented benefit. Sell the sizzle, not the steak!
  • 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customer base.

Good stuff, eh? Want the rest of our takeaways? Follow us on Twitter!