Blog Posted In Business

Why Your Business Still Needs Infographics in 2018


By | source: Jan 8th, 2018

In today’s world of digital marketing, an infographic can be defined as a graphic visual that translates complex information quickly, clearly and in an engaging way.

As a business owner, you probably already know many of the reasons why your business needs infographics.   Some of the convincing stats about why you need infographics floating around the web include:

  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual (Source)
  • The average user only reads 20-28% of words on a page (Source)
  • Infographics are 30x more likely to be read than text articles (Source)
  • Using infographics can improve web traffic by 12% (Source)
  • Infographics are liked and shared on social media 3x more than any other type of content (Source)

Stats like these are part of the reason that infographics gained popularity among marketers.  However, many of these statistics date back to 2014 and before.  With so many infographics flooding the scene, businesses may be wondering whether infographics are still effective or not.

Yes, infographics are still effective!

Here are just some of the reasons your business needs infographics as part of a marketing plan in 2018 and beyond.

1. Infographics Work Across Multiple Platforms

infographics across marketing platforms

Creating content uses up a lot of your business’s resources, so you want to make sure each piece of content gets maximum usage.  Infographics can offer a great ROI because they work across multiple platforms including:

  • Social media
  • Blogs
  • Sales letters (read how)
  • Reports
  • Printed posters and flyers (offline marketing is still a valid tactic!)

 

2. Infographics are Replacing Whitepapers

infographic from white paper

Marketers have talked about how traditional whitepapers are a relic of the past.  While we still need whitepapers, no one is interested in reading multiple pages on complex data.   Customers and clients want information quickly and in a straightforward way.

Infographic whitepapers are a solution to the dead whitepaper.  The infographic shown above was used in a white paper released by the UK government.  Visualizations like these help strike the right balance between entertaining and informing, plus building brand collateral in the process.

 

3. Infographics Are Still a Valid SEO Technique

infographics for SEO

One of the reasons that infographics became so popular with marketers is because they are great for organic link building.  All you need to do is include an embed code with your infographic.  When other websites use your infographic on their sites, you get a natural link to your desired page.

Infographics can also indirectly improve SEO because they do so well on social media.  While social media isn’t a direct ranking factor, social matters for SEO: The top-ranked pages in Google have vastly more social signals than other pages.

 

4. People Crave Facts and Stats

The desire for factual information

We live in a society where fake news is shouted from the rooftops. It might seem like statistics don’t matter in this world where people make decisions based on emotions and gut feelings.  However, as The Guardian points out, this has actually created an opportunity for data.

Individuals trying to “work out what is really going on” are hungry for data so they can make informed decisions.  Infographics are a great way to provide this data to your audience.

Note: It’s important that your infographic data actually be correct to get this benefit! Make sure that you do your research, aren’t cherry-picking data, and cite sources.  Otherwise you’ll end up like these misleading infographics.

 

5. Infographics Are Readily Available to Small Businesses

small business infographics

If you need a reason why to use infographics for your small business, it is this.  You can visit websites like Daily Infographic or Visual.ly, search for infographics in your industry, and then share them in blog posts or on social media.

It doesn’t matter that your brand didn’t create the infographic.  By sharing an infographic which is useful to your audience, you position yourself as an expert and gain the trust of customers.

Of course, it is still best to create your own infographic with a unique story and branding. However, if your business budget can’t afford a design team, you can still share worthy infographics from the web.

 

6. Infographics Spice Up About Pages

Infographic about us page

For B2B brands, the “About Page” is one of the most important pages on the website.  Including infographics is a great way to get the message across while showcasing the personality of your business.  This has been done excellently by brands like Moz, AirBnB, The Vehicle Group, and Visionaire.

A lot of About Us pages also contain employee profiles.  These profiles are great at increasing your conversions because potential customers find it easier to connect with real human beings.

Take a cue from the new trend of infographic resumes and put employee profiles in infographic form instead of the standard, formal (read: boring) template. This helps the humanity behind your business shine through in a trendy, engaging manner.

 

7. Visual Stimulation Increases Client Retention

visual stimulation

As Lucid Press points out, consumers aren’t just exposed to loads of content, they are exposed to competing brand messages all at once.  If your brand isn’t able to keep consumers focused on your message, you risk losing them.

Visual stimulation is critical to keeping consumers focused on your message in these ways:

  • Visuals are the first impression customers get of your brand.
  • Visual content keeps customers engaged by compelling them to continue experiencing the content.
  • Customers associate superior image quality with brand quality.
  • Visual content is more memorable and keeps your business top of mind.

So take a look through your website and other marketing platforms.  How visually stimulating are they? If your website fails to deliver on the eye-candy, then your business needs infographics.

 

8.  Pinterest Keeps On Growing

pinterest marketing

In April of 2017, Pinterest had 175 million active users.  By September, that number had grown to 200 million (Source).  There’s no denying the importance of Pinterest as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy.

Your business needs infographics as part of its Pinterest strategy as a way to stand out.  And, with the vertical image layout, scannability, and optimal pin size (which is approximately 735 x 1102px), Pinterest feed is set up for infographic success.

Tip: Make sure the font on your infographic is legible on the Pinterest home feed, including when viewed on mobile.

 

9.  Infographics Make Content More Digestible

digestible content

In today’s digital world, you’ve only got 7 seconds to grab consumers’ attention.  How are you supposed to do this when you have complex information to convey?

Practices like including headings and bullet points to make it more scannable are important for text content.  In fact readers tend to stick around longer to read text that accompanies infographic.   However, nothing beats infographics for making complex info digestible.

You can still keep your long-form content (and should!) but supplementing it with an infographic is a great way to ensure all users – including those crunched for time – are satisfied.

 

10.  Your Business Needs Infographics For a Diverse Content Plan

diversifying content

Let’s face it.  If your content plan consists only of blog posts (or reports, videos, product images, etc.), your users are going to get bored.

To keep users engaged and coming back for more content, you need to offer them variety.  Infographics shouldn’t be the only type of content on your website and marketing channels, but they should definitely be a part of the overall plan!

How do you use infographics in your business?

Image credits:
Infographic Resume” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Devign Elements
Growing Social Media” (CC BY 2.0) by mkhmarketing
Infographic: Geological disposal: Making” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by DECCgovuk
1.17% of the UK” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by DimitraTzanos
circlescape” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Zeptonn
Search Engines Love Content by Go Local” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by Go Local Search
pinterest_infographic” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by Stefan Leijon
Cover Infographics” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by Stefan Leijon
mesmerized by numbers” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by hsingy
Linkedin maps data visualization” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by luc legay

infographic world

Blog Posted In Marketing

Content Marketing vs. Native Advertising: What’s the Difference?


By | source: Jun 12th, 2018

The world of digital marketing is rapidly changing. If you’re a performance marketer, you may sometimes feel as if you’re drowning in an alphabet soup of buzzwords, marketing speak, and confusing acronyms.

If you’ve ever tripped your tongue on the differences between content marketing and native advertising, well, you’re not the only one. Content marketing and native advertising have certain characteristics in common – but they are not the same. As digital marketing becomes more advanced, and new tools and platforms unfold, it’s important to stay on top of your game. To do that, let’s take a separate look at content marketing and native advertising, and see exactly how – and why – they’re different.

Content Marketing – The Entire Kit and Caboodle, Plus the Kitchen Sink

If content marketing seems to be a modern, internet-based phenomenon, think again. Content marketing has a long and impressive history. The earliest content marketing had the same goal as it does today – to drive brand awareness and customer engagement by promoting informative or entertaining content that gives value to existing and potential customers.

You’ve probably heard of John Deere, the farming equipment company, but you may not know that John Deere is actually regarded by many as the grandfather of content marketing. This is because, in the late 1800s, the company began producing a magazine called The Furrow. The magazine provided farmers with information and advice from the world of agriculture. It was also a great way to get the John Deere brand out there to customers, not via advertising, but by marketing through relevant, valuable content. Over a century later, the magazine is still in circulation – in 14 languages!

Image courtesy of eBay

Much later, in the internet age, content marketing entered a whole new world of possibility. The ability to produce and publish content digitally and cost effectively, in a wide range of forms, has massively expanded the content marketing industry. So has the proliferation of computers, and especially mobile devices, which means that customers can access online content anywhere, anytime. Blogs, ebooks, videos, infographics, and interactive content, such as quizzes, surveys and more, are leveraged by brands to strengthen their image and message.

A classic example is the famous “Will It Blend?” YouTube video series by Blendtec, which has been ongoing since 2006. With over 200,000,000 views to date, the Blendtec video series is an ingenious piece of content marketing. The company founder stars in quirky short videos in which he attempts to blend objects in the Blendtec blender, demonstrating the product’s incredible power. Items such as iPads, marbles, diamonds and magnets have all been thrown in the Blendtec blender to answer the question, “will it blend?” The fascinating video series incorporates some of the most important aspects of content marketing, such as customer engagement. Many of the ideas about which objects to test in the blender come from popular requests sent in by the audience.

Screenshot from “Will It Blend?” video. Courtesy of YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pnonj_84Ju4

Check out this infographic that gives a visual summary of the story of content marketing, from John Deere, to “Will It Blend?”, to today.

 

To sum up, content marketing is the entire strategy of content-based promotional activities via the creation and publication of educational or entertaining content to drive customer engagement. It’s not one item in the performance marketer’s repertoire; it’s the whole kit and caboodle – and the kitchen sink!

Native Advertising – Half the Content Marketing Cake

Native ads are paid advertisements that blend in with the format and feel of the channel or publication in which they appear. The beauty and power of native ads are that they are nonintrusive; they don’t engage in hard selling, such as a TV commercial or magazine ad might. Rather, native ads intend to inform, educate or entertain the reader, providing them with a value-added experience that creates a positive and memorable association with the brand.

Native advertising, like content marketing, has a long and illustrious history, dating back to the 1800s. Then and now, native ads work on the same principles:

  1. Not to stand out as an ad
  2. Not obviously selling a specific product
  3. Has the look and feel of editorial content

Here’s an early example of a native ad, for Quaker puffed wheat. Answer this question: does it look like a comic strip, or an ad?

It definitely looks and feel like a comic strip, and that’s what makes it a native ad, rather than just a regular advertisement. Native ads are usually marked as such, so readers are aware they are viewing an ad, not an editorial piece. Notice how the word “Advertisement” appears at the top of the Quaker native ad.

Another type of native advertising is the advertorial, which first appeared in the early 20th century. Advertorials are paid ads designed to look like an article, rather than an ad, based on editorial-style content that informs or entertains the audience.

Here’s an oft-cited example of one of the best advertorials ever published. In 1915, the Cadillac car company, which was facing tough times, published an advertorial about “The Penalty of Leadership”. The native ad, which was only published once, is widely credited for turning around the company’s fortunes, as it so successfully associated the notions of prestige and quality with the Cadillac brand.

Today, native ads are published in a few different ways – on social media platforms, in search results of search engines such as Google or Bing, and on content recommendation platforms.

In the pre-computer age, native ads were just ads. They stood on their own feet.

In today’s internet-based world, native ads are in fact, a means to an end – to get the reader to complete an online action (download an ebook, request a demo, watch a video, etc) that will take them down the sales and marketing funnel, with the intention of getting them to convert to a customer further down the road. Native ads are not just a form of advertising. They are a vital link in the chain of content marketing – but they are not content marketing itself.

Think of it this way: native advertising is a few slices of the larger content marketing pie. In fact, it may surprise you to know that native advertising already accounts for over half of online advertising. In 2017, native ads overtook display ads in terms of dollar spend. And, some 43% of content marketers are using native advertising as part of their marketing strategy.

Here’s an infographic to give you a visual overview of how native advertising has evolved over time.

 

 

So, what’s the difference?

If you cut back on all the performance marketing noise, you’ll notice a key differentiator between content marketing and native advertising – and it comes down to cost.

The content marketing examples cited above revolve around ‘owned media’ – that is, content created and distributed by the brand itself, on its own media channels and platforms, such as the company website and social media pages. The “Will It Blend?” videos are produced by Blendtec and promoted on their own YouTube channel. The Furrow magazine is produced, published and distributed by the John Deere company. Content marketing generally doesn’t include paid media, although a well-rounded content marketing strategy may also include paid advertising (such as PPC ads).

Native advertising, on the other hand, is always paid for. The advertiser (or brand) pays a third-party publisher to feature its native ads on the publisher’s site or channel. Quaker paid the newspaper to publish its native cartoon ad. And Cadillac bought the advertising space in the Saturday Evening Post for its native advertorial. In the online space, advertisers typically pay the host website for every click-through of their native ad.

Let’s conclude with an analogy that gives a nicely rounded overview of the difference between content marketing and native advertising, in a comfortably digestible morsel:

“If native advertising is on the menu, then content marketing is the whole kitchen.”

That’s right – native advertising is one method that you can implement into your whole content marketing strategy. But it’s also much more than just a method. Native advertising is perhaps an entire world of content marketing all its own because it works to drive customer engagement along the entire sales funnel. But remember, if you’re a performance marketer, native advertising – no matter how effective – can never be content marketing. So get back to the kitchen and start cooking your full course content marketing strategy!

 

Written by Guest Author Liraz Postan, from Outbrain

infographic world

Blog Posted In Business, Marketing

Visual Content: Types That Work Best On Social Networks


By | source: May 8th, 2018

Consider the fact that, according to a study conducted by We Are Social, there were about 2.8 billion social media users around the world in 2017 – equivalent to a roughly 37% penetration rate. What are the odds that they’re all using the same social networks? That they’re all looking for the same things for the same reason? That the same piece of content will strike a chord with all 2.8 billion of them in the exact same way?

The answer to all of those questions is clear: slim to none.

Because when someone logs into Twitter to check their feed, they’re doing so for a different reason than when they log into Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat. They’re probably doing so from a different environment and they have a different end goal in mind.

Therefore, it becomes of paramount importance that you understand what these goals are so that you can make sure you have the right type of visual content for the right moment on the right channel moving forward.

person holding cell phone

Breaking Down the Major Social Networks

We’ve talked at great length in the past about what goes into creating a high quality, compelling piece of visual content – so we’re not going to retread all that here. For the sake of discussion, let’s assume that you’re sitting in front of a terrific piece of collateral that you can’t wait to get out to the widest possible audience.

So where, exactly, should you post it?

According to experts, these are the types of content that perform best on specific social networks:

  • Facebook users tend to spend more time on page than a lot of other sites, so the visual content that tends to work best here includes as much video as you can post. Along the same lines, Facebook is also a perfect outlet for curated content – so if you see a particularly helpful article in your travels around the web, don’t be afraid to share it.
  • Instagram is a visual-based social network, so it stands to reason that content that is heavily visual works best. High resolution images, quotes and other types of content that essentially stand on their own and require as little explanation as possible are really going to strike a chord.
  • Twitter users are in it for the short bursts of critical information, so this would be a great outlet for your visual collateral based on news items or other highly relevant topics. GIFs also work great on Twitter.
  • Since this is a professional network, it stands to reason that the content you create should be professional driven as well. This would be a great place to post all your visual content about your actual business and its employees, for example.
  • Pinterest users tend to love content like infographics, step-by-step guides (complete with as many photos as possible) and much more.

So when you sit down with a tool like Visme (which I founded to help people communicate visually) to work on that next big infographic, you’re probably going to want to start with Pinterest and Twitter when it comes to publishing because it’s right in the wheelhouse of what those users are already looking for.

When you come to something that is a little more long form like a flyer, Facebook would probably be the way to go – because it’s users still love visuals but seem to be willing to take a little more time to really digest something should the need arise.

Note that you can also use Visme to create terrific social media graphics, which is another opportunity to really help sell the visual aspect of your social media presence. You’ll still want to keep the specific audience on a network in mind before you pull the trigger, however.

In essence, don’t create social media graphics for social networks in general – really break things down and take a different approach to creating something for Pinterest than you would for something like LinkedIn. The former lets you be a little more fun and exciting while the latter does not – you don’t want to put off a huge portion of your audience with the right type of graphics as that will only put you farther away from your goal, not closer to it.

Likewise, let’s say for the sake of example that you really want to appeal to a younger audience so you want to start incorporating memes and similar types of fun materials into your messaging. Facebook would be a really great place to do something like that and memes in general even work wonders on Twitter… but keep it off of a site like LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is decidedly more professional that Facebook or Twitter (probably combined) and you really want to put your best foot forward in that regard. Nobody is saying that your entire online presence has to be “all business, all the time” – but you have to know how and when to pick your spots, so to speak.

image of someone picking stuff

Really, what you’re doing is pairing the content you’re creating, the audience you’ve created it for and the goals you hope to achieve with the right platform on which to excel in those areas. If you’re able to do that on a regular basis, you won’t have to worry about finding success – you’d better believe that success is going to find your.

Other Essential Considerations

Along the same lines, you’ll also want to work hard to maintain the proper ratio of helpful, engaging and inspiring posts to direct sales posts regardless of which social networking site you choose.

As a rule of thumb, try to stick to making roughly 80% of your posts inspiring, engaging, or thought provoking in some way. Then, you’re free to use the other 20% to focus more on selling your products and services.

The key is that you want to be more helpful than salesy, because “sales driven” has a habit of turning into “pushy and overbearing” before you even realize that you have a problem.

 

But again, all of this is staying within the lines of the social network-specific guidelines that we were discussing earlier. A lengthier, more thorough inspiring post should probably be targeted at Facebook and the same is true of a longer, more detailed sales post. Just like your Infographics – both those that aim to inform and those that are trying to sell – would probably be more at home on a site like Twitter.

Another thing to consider is that absolutely none of this means that you suddenly have to come up with double or even triple the ideas for content depending on how many different social networking sites you’re working with. The story at the heart of a piece of content can stay the same and be re-used on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. How that story is framed, packaged and presented is all that needs to change. So you can easily take a single idea about community contributions your company has made and:

  • Turn it into a 500 or so blog post that winds up on your Facebook feed.
  • Pull out all of the stats that highlight the impact you’re making and turn it into an Infographic for Twitter.
  • Take all of those photos that you took during a specific community outing and post them to your Instagram account.
  • Highlight the community organizations that you’re working with and turn it into a blog post for LinkedIn and highlight why this all matters.

Suddenly, you’re talking about four high quality pieces of content that all came from the same core idea. They all tell the same story, just in totally different ways depending on where they will eventually wind up. Any one of your customers could encounter only one of the four pieces and get a complete story, but by diving into all of them they have a much more complete picture from a variety of angles.

The Key to Engagement is Specificity

In the end, the most important thing to understand about social media marketing in the modern age is that engagement should always be your number one goal. Raising awareness is great and all those followers may or may not translate into a sale, but making your top priority anything less than engagement essentially means looking a digital gift horse square in the mouth.

Every social networking site has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, which means that users are already engaging with those platforms in very different ways. By understanding WHY people use Facebook over Twitter and HOW they engage with those platforms, the answer to WHAT type of content you should post becomes overwhelmingly clear.

None of that is to say that the same piece of content won’t work equally well on two separate networks, but by creating content for a specific audience for a specific network you’re putting yourself and your campaigns in a much better position to succeed than they would be otherwise.

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience and web app development.

 

 

 

infographic world

Blog Posted In Government, Tech

Key Moments In Bitcoin’s History


By | source: Apr 2nd, 2018

Despite currently trading around $8,000 and steadily increasing in popularity, cryptocurrencies are often still marred by fear and negative media coverage.

Bitcoin is transparent and digital, meaning when using it you don’t have to worry about counterfeit money.   It’s the first successful use case of blockchain technology in digital payment.  As Bitcoin’s introduction verges on its 10th year, it’s starting to gain further widespread adoption around the world.  Here are 10 moments in its history that stand out as well as a bitcoin infographic with 67 insane facts.

Satoshi Nakamoto Launches Bitcoin with a Radical Agenda (January 2009)

You might assume that somebody who creates a new currency is probably in it for the money, and while Bitcoin’s mysterious founder Satoshi Nakamoto is estimated to own $4.7 billion worth of BTC, it’s the radical agenda behind the technology that has inspired many people to show their support.

“The Times 3 January 2009 Chancellor on brink of the second bailout for banks,” was the message Nakamoto left in the very first block that was mined that month – referencing an article about the financial crisis and the UK’s taxpayer-funded bank bailout.

Bitcoin is not controlled by any central government or authority, transactions are pseudonymous, and there are no inherent restrictions preventing any individual from using it as long as they are able to connect to the internet and use the web. Even in countries where BTC is outlawed, there isn’t always a realistic way to enforce the ban.

Without these radical elements, it could be argued that Bitcoin would not be as successful, as there wouldn’t be anything particularly unique about it.

pizza

Bitcoin Pizza Day (May 2010)

An example of BTC’s rise in value is “bitcoin pizza day,” the day which commemorates the very first consumer purchase using the currency.

On May 22, 2010, Laszlo Hanyecz bought pizza from 18-year old Jeremy Sturdivant, for 10,000 BTC, totaling approximately $25 at the time. Today this is worth over $50 million!

It wasn’t a direct transaction with the pizza place; rather Hanyecz sent the money to Sturdivant who agreed to place the orders.

Unfortunately, it is not known what Sturdivant did with his coins and if he’s now living the high life or kicking himself for spending them up before the boom in value. However, one person we do know who is kicking themselves is Hanyecz, who probably should have just made a sandwich and held on to his fortune.

Numerous independent and larger pizza chains now accept payment in BTC. Also, there are several online services that allow customers to pay a middleman in BTC, who will then order a desired service on your behalf in regular currency.

Europe Embraces Bitcoin (2011)

Although the US was its birthplace, Europe was quick to embrace Bitcoin. In 2011 French based exchange Bitcoin Central was the first exchange to be licensed under European regulation.

It subsequently assured customers’ balances up to 100,000 EUR and offered debit cards with access to BTC balances. In practice, this meant that Bitcoin (BTC) could be immediately exchanged into Euros at the point of sale or ATM.

In 2014, Belgium and Finland decided the cryptocurrency was exempt from VAT, meaning trades could be legally made without buyers being subject to tax.

In 2017, Swiss private bank Falcon became the first bank to sell bitcoin directly to its customers. The tradeoff is that anonymity is lost as transactions made by an account holder can be linked.

Time Magazine Article (April 2011)

It might not quite have the clout it used to, but Time Magazine featured Bitcoin in, giving it a rubber stamp of relevance among mainstream media.

This occurred in April 2011 with their piece entitled “Online Cash Bitcoin Could Challenge Governments, Banks.”

The article looked at the potential risks to users and barriers from governments, its use in the illegal dark web marketplaces, and its steep learning curve.  Simultaneously it explored the benefits and then revolutionary concept behind the blockchain technology.

Since then, the magazine has done many more pieces (both positive and negative) on Bitcoin.

picture of clock and money pile

A Coupled Lived 90 Days on Just Bitcoins (Summer 2013)

Are bitcoins accessible to the average person? Do they work as a day-to-day means of exchange, or are they just for geeks, ideologues and investors?

Austin Craig and Beccy Bingham proved in the summer of 2013 that, yes, you can get by using only BTC. However, their 90 day experiment wasn’t easy – they could only use Skype to make calls, and purchases were dependent on whether they could convince retailers and service providers to accept the currency or use the kindness of friends and strangers to act as middle-men.

Of course, we’ve come a long way since then. Now even some gas stations are accepting BTC, and you can pay at many independent stores for groceries and other goods.

 

Cyprus University Accepts Bitcoins for Tuition (November 2013)

 In an effort to ease transmission difficulties for certain students, the University of Nicosia in Cyprus began accepting BTC for student tuition in November 2013.

The private university’s CFO Dr. Christos Vlachos appears to be a proponent of the currency, stating: “Digital currency will create more efficient services and will serve as a mechanism for spreading financial services to under-banked regions of the world.”

In addition to being a practical move, he stated that it was a way for the institution to learn more about the technology firsthand.

A center of learning trying to learn something new? What a novel idea!

The Great Bitcoin Boom of 2013

2013 was a big year for bitcoin as it saw its value skyrocket from $125 in the September to over $1,100 by the end of November. This was heavily tied to the market’s expansion into populous China and a perfect storm of new media coverage and bullish investing.

Of course, rapid booms tend to preclude busts and the collapse of leading exchange Mt. Gox, a ban in China, numerous hackings, the closing of the illegal marketplace the Silk Road, and lots of negative coverage ensured this would be deep and painful (but not fatal).

Bitcoin’s value plummeted to $400 in April 2014 and hit lows of about $200 in January 2015.

Nonetheless, the community saw where Bitcoin could go and it would go higher still. Their optimism was confirmed with aplomb when BTC rose to almost $20,000 in value at the end of 2017.

 

Microsoft on Board (2014)

It’s one thing when an independent hipster coffee shop or an online tech store offer bitcoin as a payment method, but when a mega corporation like Microsoft gets behind something you know it has legs.

They began accepting BTC as a form of payment for digital items in December 2014, in partnership with BitPay – today’s leading Bitcoin payment service provider that launched in 2011 and was the first to offer a wallet on smartphones, making it much easier for the general public to get involved.

Microsoft also allows you to add money to your account with BTC via the ‘Redeem bitcoin’ feature.

Banks and Other Institutions Adopt the Technology (May 2015)

If you can’t beat them join them; this seems to be the perspective of governments, banks and other institutions that are now researching and investing in blockchain p2p technology themselves – a clear example of Bitcoin’s success.

In May 2015, NASDAQ adopted the blockchain to handle transactions. Then in September, Goldman Sachs, JPMorganChase, and Bank of America were among nine of the world’s biggest banks to join a pact to build the “fabric” of blockchain technology for the banking industry.

In March 2016, broker ICAP was the first to distribute data on trades to customers using blockchain, and in the May Santander became the first British bank to start using the tech for recording international payments.

In 2017, the US Government began investing in blockchain to protect healthcare companies from hackers, and by 2020 Dubai wants all government transactions to be blockchain-powered.

Despite all these entities owing their innovation to the founder of Bitcoin, the digital currency’s advocates are keen to point out that the technology was supposed to bypass the old guard, not empower it.

 Mt. Gox Saga

The Mt. Gox saga is commonly considered a black mark on Bitcoin history. After all, in early 2014 there was a major scandal that saw the disappearance of approximately 850,000 bitcoins the exchange was holding in wallets and trades. By May 2016, creditors of Mt. Gox had claimed they lost $2.4 trillion because of the bankruptcy.

Yet, despite such a massive failure of the BTC market (at one time Mt. Gox was processing 80% of all currency trade related transactions), the cryptocurrency survived, rebounded and continues to thrive.

It was a much needed wake-up call for the community. Despite inherent encryption, entrusting third parties without security protocols to get it right was naïve. Now everybody knows better and the market is stronger because of it.

 

Bitcoin Explosion (2017)

2017 was the year of Bitcoin.

The cryptocurrency began the year valued just over $1,000 and finished it at nearly $20,000.

This massive increase in value saw it emerging from geeky-obscurity into the mainstream with force. News channels, newspapers, sites that had never covered the topic before, all began blabbering about the new phenomenon, spewing controversial information and unchecked facts.

The surge of popularity led to many new investors joining, but also many got burned by the prodigal volatility of the cryptocurrency, which has more than halved in value since its zenith in late December 2017.

Bitcoin Today

As of the end of Mar 2018 bitcoin boasts over 24 million users (or digital wallets), nearly 2,400 ATMs in many countries, the number of daily transactions are growing exponentially, and it’s trading around $8,000.  Bitcoin: success or failure? Check out these amazing facts about Bitcoin:

 

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Blog Posted In Internet, Marketing

Top Affordable Online Graphic Design Services (and How to Maximize Them)


By | source: Mar 12th, 2018

*Post contains affiliate links, which if used may result in a trickle of commission(at no extra cost to you) to help support Daily Infographic.  Thanks!

Today’s marketing world is increasingly visual. No matter how great your product or content is, it won’t get noticed if it doesn’t have stunning visuals to accompany it.   Luckily, there has been a surge in affordable graphic design services.

Whether you need a logo, infographic, website layout, brochure, or something unique, these platforms are great places to go for graphic design services on a budget.

 

1. Fiverr

Fiverr graphic design services

If you still haven’t heard of Fiverr, then you are missing out on a platform for finding dirt-cheap graphic design services. Yes, a lot of the services actually do cost just five dollars – especially jobs like logos, business cards, and simple banner ads.

For anything more time-intensive or creatively demanding, you’ll need to pay more than five dollars.  Most sellers offer a variety of options and add-ons (such as paying extra for more revisions or certain file formats).  You save money by paying only for the design services you actually need.

Even the “expensive” graphic designers on Fiverr can be relatively cheap, since the platform taps into global talent.  You can typically find a professional quality logo, brochure, banner, book cover, or even custom illustration for under $50.  The platform has more of a product focus, where design services are offered with a focus on the product and the price, for example “$20 professional logo”.  As a result many of the freelancers operate under screen names and you’re often not sure of the identity of the person hired.

*Be wary of any graphic designer that seems too good to be true.  It’s impossible to completely verify the freelancer’s portfolios showing examples of their work.   Since gigs are cheap, it is also easy for service providers to build up fake positive reviews.  Luckily, Fiverr has a dispute policy and money can sometimes be refunded when the work is not up to par.

Pros:

  • Very cheap
  • Thousands of graphic designers in one place
  • Huge variety of services offered
  • Platform is easy to navigate

Cons:

  • Some graphic designers may have fake portfolios
  • Quality varies drastically
  • Many amateur designers to sort through

 

2. Upwork

Upwork graphic designers

Formally known as Elance, Upwork is one of the largest platforms of freelancers marketing their services.  As expected, there are plenty of affordable graphic design services to be found.

Using Upwork is fairly simple.  You create a public job, set the budget, and wait for freelancers to apply.  Or, you can create a private job and invite only selected freelancers to apply.  Either way, you’ll have a large pool of candidates.

Upwork has a freelancer based focus, as opposed to a product based like Fiverr.  Real names are used and Upwork may required identity document verification.  Freelancers upload work to their portfolio and even have tests to prove skill knowledge.  You may still have to weed through lower quality freelancers, but Upwork also has a “job success score” that helps to rate freelancers based on past work.

The reviews on Upwork tend to be more reliable.  Especially if project costs are higher, it would be costly for a freelancer to get friends to write fake reviews.  You can also check the history of the reviewer, which means it is easier to spot fakes.

Pros:

  • Most designers are professionals and provide good-quality work
  • Reliable reviews (very few reviews are likely to be fake)
  • Escrow system for payment
  • Uses methods to weed out spammers
  • Hourly and fixed rates

Cons:

  • High freelancer fees are passed on to client
  • On-site messaging system needs improvement
  • Payment protection doesn’t extend to poor quality work

3. PicMonkey

Picmonkey DIY graphic design platform

Hiring a graphic designer online can take a long time.  You first need to narrow down the candidates, and after hiring spend time communicating with the designer to make sure the parameters are understood.  For simple jobs it might make sense to just do the work yourself.

PicMonkey is a good solution for people who want to take a DIY approach to graphic design, but are intimidated by Photoshop.

You won’t be able to create stunning logos or visuals from scratch with PicMonkey.  However, the service does allow you to easily touch up existing photos, make collages, create album covers, and create social media ads using templates.

The platform is heavily marketed towards small business websites and bloggers, particularly ones who want to expand their social media presence without having to add an additional member to their staff.

Pros:

  • Low monthly cost
  • Free trial offered
  • Tutorials and help offered
  • Lots of effects and overlays
  • Templates pre-sized for social media

Cons:

  • Ongoing cost
  • Limited to very basic graphic design tasks
  • Might be better off learning Photoshop
  • Free trial lasts only 7 days and credit card is required

4. Canva

canva

Canva is a popular design tool that’s free and easy to use without any design experience. The site offers templates and is popular among bloggers, content marketers, small business owners alike.  Designed for work, school, and play, it even offers design tips for non-designers.

The interface is intuitive and easy for anyone to use.  Whether it’s creating presentations, magazine covers or simple marketing materials, you can create beautiful graphics with the provided layouts.  Even for designing mockups this would be a great place to start.

For more efficient teamwork, Canva offers a paid service called Canva At Work which allows integration with several team members.

Pros:

  • Free service meets most basic graphic design needs
  • Low monthly cost to upgrade
  • Templates pre-sized for social media

Cons:

  • Standardized features
  • Requires upgrading for resizing images

5.  Design Pickle Design Pickle

Design Pickle graphic design service review

Design Pickle offers an innovative flat rate approach to affordable graphic design services.  Instead of charging you on a per-project basis, they offer unlimited graphic design services for a flat monthly fee.  They were created for the average non-creative small business.

After signing up for the service, you are matched with a graphic designer who will be primarily responsible for your designs. They’ve pre selected a team of designers trained for high volume work.   If that designer goes on leave, another one will fill in, ensuring on call design services.

While you do get unlimited work each month for the fixed price, the jobs are queued up in your dashboard.  You set which ones have priority and these are done first.  Turnaround depends on the total request volume and complexity.

The service fits people who can answer yes to the following question: “Can I reasonably explain or show what I want in an email?”  If you have an eye for design and know exactly what you want, or you only need simple tasks done regularly, you may find these services valuable.

Pros:

  • Flat-rate price for unlimited work and revisions
  • On call graphic design services cheaper than a full time designer
  • No need to search for your own graphic designer
  • Ideal for business owners who know what they want
  • 14 day free trial to test the waters

Cons:

  • Not for extensive design jobs
  • Pays off better if you have many regular requests

 

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Affordable Graphic Design Services

tips for graphic design services

While some platforms are better for certain types of design work, it is ultimately about how you use the platform.

Whether you want to use one of the affordable design services listed above or another, make sure you follow these tips.

 

1. Be Specific in Your Project Description

graphic design project specs

Don’t think you can ask for a “design for XYZ industry” and get great results.  For graphic designers to succeed, they need details about what you want.

This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to give details about color psychology and contrast ratios.  However, you should include in your project description:

  • Information about your company and its mission
  • How/where the design will be used (especially if conversions are important!)
  • Examples of design work that you like
  • Examples of work that you don’t like
  • Any relevant market research
  • Copy, CTA, or other text that needs to be included in the design

 

2. Look for Long-Term Relationships

working together

Finding a good quality, affordable graphic designer can consume a lot of your time.  So, when you do find one, you don’t want to let him or her go.  That is why it is so crucial to look for long-term relationships.

How can you tell if a graphic designer is interested in long-term working relationships?  Look for:

  • Established profiles: This shows that the designer is a professional. They also don’t want to waste time applying for jobs and will happily build long-term relationships with clients.
  • A frequent rehire rate: Some sites will show you this; with others you have to look for multiple reviews from the same client.
  • Full time freelancers or services: If the designer has another full time job, there may be other demands on his/her time.  This is one of the challenges of working with freelancers in general though, you won’t always know if your preferred designers are available for quick turnarounds.  Some of the productized services or agencies can help solve his problem.

 

3. Pay Bonuses for Great Work

It might seem counterintuitive to pay more than necessary within a competitive market.  But once you’ve invested in a freelance hire, monetary incentives can often pave the way for a more productive relationship. As with most employees, designers enjoy being rewarded for consistent work that exceeds your expectations.

What are your favorite sources for affordable design work?

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Blog Posted In Education, Lifestyle

The Magic of Music


By | source: Dec 27th, 2017

Do you ever go a day without listening to some type of music? You probably don’t, and that’s because music is all around us. We  hear it in stores, coming from car stereos, and of course our own headphones! Music transcends time and cultures and finds its way into all of our lives. Pretty cool, right?

Despite its presence in our lives, there’s still a lot we don’t understand about the effects of music on our minds and bodies. For example, why does your voice sound so different on recordings? Are you really tone deaf? Scientists have come up with some theories to explain these and other musical phenomena.

Why do songs get stuck in my head?

It happens to all of us, out of the blue a song pops in our head and it’s stuck there on repeat. Maybe the chorus really is just that catchy, but it’s also a phenomenon called earworms. Luckily these aren’t literal worms, just a term that refers to songs that get stuck in your brain. It’s difficult to say for sure why this happens, but some researchers have concluded that it comes from listening to a song many, many times. The interesting part is, it doesn’t have to be a song you’ve listened to recently.

Songs played on the radio are the most common earworms, since we hear them often. They typically pop into our heads when we’re doing something mindless or routine. One researcher found that people often have positive emotions after having an earworm and when asked to sing it back, what they sing is almost exactly like the original. Perhaps the purpose of earworms is to help our memory and make us happy?

Why does my voice sound different on recordings?

Most people would agree, the sound of their own voice is just not pleasant. Few people listen to a recording of their own voice without asking, is that really me? Studies have shown, this has to do with the way we hear. Sound is carried along two paths, and when we speak we  hear the sound that comes from our vocal chords up to our ear. When we hear a recording of our voice, that “normal” sound we hear is gone and what is left is the sound that travels through the air back to our ears.

Am I really “tone deaf”?

Good news! Just because you may be bad at singing doesn’t mean you are actually, in fact, tone deaf. Amusia is the technical term for tone deafness and it actually only occurs in 1 out of every 20 people. For most people, the ability to process sound and match pitch and rhythm can be learned with musical training. Maybe some singing lessons are in your future?

Why are some people so bad at keeping rhythm?

Have you ever been in a group listening to music and everyone is snapping or clapping along to the beat but there’s that one person who just cannot keep the rhythm? This is an actual scientific condition called being “beat deaf”. While many people may have some trouble matching a beat, very few are actually beat deaf. These people have no problem clapping or snapping when there’s no sound, but the problem is presented when they try to synchronize with a sound such as music. This inability to remain on beat with music may have to do with their own internal rhythms.

Why do I get chills when listening to music?

Some songs, or parts of a song, will give you goosebumps, or chills. Why does this happen when listening to music? This phenomena, called musical frisson, is due to the pleasure that comes from hearing music and the release of dopamine. Scientists have found that it can even happen when the pleasure is anticipated. This explains why music, which has no survival value, is so important to human society.  

Why do certain artists and songs bring back memories?

The title or first few notes of a song can bring back strong memories or feelings. It has long been recognized that music is tied to memories and though it is very difficult to say exactly why this happens, studies have shown that listening to music does bring back feelings of nostalgia or takes us back to a specific time and place. This could be because music triggers our conscious and unconscious memory. Songs of a particular era remind us of what we did during those times, or a certain artist reminds us of an old relationship, possibly because music is quite literally the soundtrack of our lives. Psychologists are now discovering how to help patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia by using music to assist their memory.

Does music really help you exercise?

For the vast majority of people, music is a legal performance enhancer. It helps them exercise  harder, longer, and faster. This could be due to the fact that music acts as a distraction from the pain and fatigue you’re experiencing. Most people naturally move to a beat and keep up with the tempo. This is why the majority of workout playlists are comprised of high energy, uptempo songs. Moving rhythmically to the beat can even help conserve energy.

Why do I love listening to sad songs?

It’s no surprise that upbeat music can enhance our mood, but why then do we also enjoy listening to sad songs? Much like venting, research has shown that listening to sad music helps us release the emotional sadness and distress we may be feeling. We also experience the above-mentioned musical frisson more often with sad songs due to the release of prolactin and oxytocin, which are bonding and nurturing chemicals. In effect, listening to sad music can actually help us regain our positive and happy mood.

You’ve probably experienced one if not all of these musical phenomena, and now you have an idea of why they  happen! Whatever genre is your favorite, whatever artist takes you back to your favorite summer in high school, or whatever song gets stuck in your head, the connections we have with music are deeper and more amazing than we even thought!

the magic of music described by 8 phenomenon

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