IIA Toolshed #4
Social Media Design Tools
We looked at four social media Design Tools, no one is the winner because they are all very different and serve different needs.
What is IIA Toolshed? IIA Toolshed is a group of digital marketers & digital experts who know how difficult it is to keep up with the ever changing array of tools at our fingertips, to supposedly make doing business easier! To make things simpler, we’ve come together to test, evaluate and share the reviews of a broad selection of tools & technologies, to ultimately make the decision easier for you, when choosing what tools might best suit your business needs. At the IIA Toolshed, we come together every 6 weeks to evaluate a set of tools for a particular business objective, and we’ll publish our findings right here.
Who are we? The Toolers who took part this month are:
- Maryrose Lyons, Brightspark Consulting
- Eoin Kennedy, eoinkennedy.ie
- Felicity McCarthy, Sparkdigital.ie
- Ailbhe Lee, iia.ie
- Lynne Rourke, Buyandsell.ie
- Sasha Kinch, inm.ie
- David Cuddy, Realex
- Beatrice Whelan, Sage
|What Is It||It is an online image creation and editing tool. Has been hailed as "The easiest to use design program in the world”|
– The Webby
|Web based infographic software. Works best at creating visuals using your data sets. Not recommended for creating a simple visual.||It is an online infographic maker||A very powerful image creation and editing tool for markers who are not Graphic Designers. Great for editing images, creating logos and even infographics.||Its an online GIF making site, where you can very quickly make a give from images, videos or even youtube videos||draw.io (formerly Diagramly) is free online diagram software that can be used as a flowchart maker, network diagram software but also a handy editing and design tool.|
|What's It Like To Use?||Very quick and easy. It is used by non-designers as well as professionals.It can be used for both web and print media design and graphics.||Very quick to get started, easy drag and drop feature allows you to build presentation or infographic quickly. Good selection of templates.||It is a simple platform to use for creating infographics. It has a number sample templates to get inspiration from. However, the majority of templates are only available for paid subscribers. Easy drag and drop interface allows rapid infographic building with elements such as charts, maps, pictograms, icons, text, images and more.||It can be a little intimidating and even fiddly to use initially. There are so many features and options that you can use. However once you get the hang of PicMonkey you can edit and design images in minutes.||It's very easy to use, very straightforward UI, but its sole use is for making GIF's.||The user interface initially appears intimidating as there is a lot of functionality and each session begins with a blank canvas. There is no registration and you literally start to design from scratch but the process is fairly intuitive. You can import images, add text with lots of export options and formats.|
|Is There Anything I Should Know?||Social-media and technology expert Guy Kawasaki joined the company as chief evangelist in April 2014. When you pay for an image, you only have rights for 24 hours. Good news - you only pay for what you use. Bad news - users might get an unpleasant surprise if they need to re-purchase an image. This is not made super clear in the interface.||It takes quite a while (marginal few extra seconds) to save, even when you haven't edited anything : (||In order to unlock all the features you'll need to subscribe for a premium version ($15/month). With the Premium version you are able to export the infographics into PDF and PNG formats. The product was created by Eugene Woo who is also the founder of vizualize.me which is an infographic maker for resumes.||PicMonkey has a free version, but images fonts and functionality are limited. I would strongly recommend upgrading to the paid version (known as Royale Membership). It is inexpensive - $33 a year, billed annually or $4.99 a month. The paid version gives an unbelievable number of image overlays and design templates. One downside of PicMonkey is it does not allow you to re-edit images or even save a "work in progress" for a later date. One big downfall with PicMonkey is that it is desktop only. A Mobile App would be really useful.||There is no need to sign in/register to make a GIF, but having a profile gives you more flexibility (there is a limit to the lenght of the gif you can make without signing in). Also before signing in, Youtube gifs seem to not work properly. Registration is free, and very quick and easy. Once you are registered you can remove the watermark. They have an chrome extension which seems to work pretty well and is easy to use. Its also possible to share to your social profiles (in many different ways) from within the app. Note there is a limit to the video upload size ( MB). There is virtually no editing of videos - it is just a GIF maker.||This tools is really designed for rapid building of flow charts but could also be used for enhancing, editing and producing good graphics for social media output. There are limited stock graphics available in the search bar - mainly icon style but currently it is a free tool with future licensing planned.|
|Who would you recommend it for?||Creating images for use on social networks, in presentations or for print.||Any small business currently outsourcing design work.||For businesses wishing to create quality infographics without the cost of in-house designers||Any business that wants to create great looking images for their marketing materials and social media posts without the cost of a graphic designer.||Creating GIFs quickly from photos, videos, webcam or youtube. Especially useful for companies with lots of related images and willing to experiment in visual story telling.||Creating images and assets with flow chart elements or basic editing of images|
|Cost||Free unless you purchase images. It would be preferable if you could arrange to view images by Free/Paid. Payment mechanism is cr card only (no PayPal). You have rights for 24 hours to edit imagery. £1 or €1 only.||"Free" but with watermark. Starts at $15/month. Templates, icons, 100MB download (no watermark?) Moves to $29/month (everything)||Two plans: Free and Premium ($15/month)||There is a Free option, but it is limited. I would strongly recommend upgrading to the paid version (known as Royale Membership). It is inexpensive - $33 a year, billed annually or $4.99 a month. The paid version gives an unbelievabile number of image overlays and design templates.||Free||Free but with future licensing planned.|
|Specific Criteria (Out of 4)|
|Size formats for various social platforms||4 -Yes, it has pre-set up templates for Twitter header, FB cover, and all the main social channel image post sizes.||3 - Yes you can change the canvas size.||3 - the canvas size is customisable||4 - There are plenty of size templates and you can customise your image or design to any size.||1 - no not really, its an embedded link when sharing on Facebook/Twitter, but this is probably the right way for it to be shared||Size is pretty much determined by the edited size of the canvas.|
|Purchase images||4 - Yes, it has a range of free and priced images that you can search for from within the tool. You only pay when you publish the image - before publish you can use but they are watermarked.You can also upload your own images from your computer or Facebookor drag them from your desktop.||0 - You cannot purchse images although there is an extensive libriary||3 - free and for purchase images available. You can also upload own images||2 - Once you have the paid version there are amazing templates, images and designs you can use. However you will most likely need to bring your own images to the PicMonkey table.||0 - not relevant to this platform||0. Some free icon style images available in search bar.|
|Add transparencies||4 - yes you can edit the transparency of layers.||0 - no||0 - no||4 - Yes it is really easy to isolate images and add transparency of layers.||0 - no editing capability||0 - you can move images to background but no transparency|
|Add layers||Yes, and you can easily move them back and forth - easier to use layers in this than it is in photoshop.||2 - You can basic layers||1 - you can add layers||4 - Yes - very easy to layer images, text and photos.||0 - no editing capability||3 - Yes. Simple basic layering|
|Editing capability||4||4||3 - Fine||3 - Once you create an image on PicMonkey you cannot re-edit it. However there is great editing features available when editing a picture.||0 - no editing capability||3 - Fine|
|Add text & edit fonts||4 - yes and good range of fonts||4 - some really good fonts||3 - fine, but could be more variety||4 - loads of fonts and you can even import and use additional fonts on your pc.||0 - no editing capability||3 - Simply start typing. Can change text fonts etc|
|Save templates||3 - Yes although they are not called templates, you can save designs and copy designs to use them as templates for future designs.||3||4 - Yes||0 - Once you have created an image on PicMonkey you need to save it to your pc. They do not store your images, (This may be a good thing)||0 - no editing capability||3 - Yes|
|Good range of export formats||3 - presentation formats don't export to ppt compatible||3 - limited to pdf formats and image formats. Will not export to ppt||2 - pdf and png 4 - Dermot - export to Google Docs etc||3 - Good format options.||2 - GIF and MP4. Its more impressive that you can create a give in a few ways||4 - wide range of drop down menu options of fromats and saving options from Google Drive, Dropbox to Browser.|
|What did you love?||4 -ease of use and the pre defined templates for social and ads.||3 - SurveyMonkey Integration was great and really easy and quick to use and get started.||3 - easy and quick to build infographics||4 - Once I got used to it. It made me feel like a Photshop wizard without even going near the complexities of Photoshop.||It does what it says on the tin, no unnecessary frills||Although built for flowcharts it offers lots of functionality for creative use. Easy to play around with.|
|What did you hate?||3 - Very little. Can't believe there is no mobile option. Not even mobile optimised site.||3 - Felt a bit like WordArt at times, limited shapes. Slight time delay can be annoying.||1 - no keyboard shortcuts copy/paste like ctrl+c or ctrl+v, instead of clicking on delete button you need to use venngage interface button to delete items.||3 - Only complaint is the inability to save and re-edit images. And the lack of a mobile app.||Inability to do ANY editing (even to flip the images around, which would be handy for videos taken on a phone). To get around this, upload the video to Youtube first.||Initial blank canvas and early learning curve.|
|Are you going to continue using it?||3 - Yes||3 - Yes, good for reporting||3 - Yes||3 - Yes||4 - Yes|
What’s next from the IIA Toolshed? Customer Service Tools
The IIA in partnership with Irish Times Training are delighted to launch a brand new Diploma course in e-Commerce Management.
This Course covers everything you need to know to run a successful ecommerce business. Click here for more information.
Module 1: Planning your e-Commerce Customer Proposition
Lecturer: Ronan O’Brien of Zatori – The Costume Shop
Module 2: Business Planning
Lecturer: Fionan Dunne of CFO Services
Module 3: Effective Website Design
Lecturer: Gareth Dunlop of Fathom
Module 4: Driving Customer Traffic – PPC, SEO, Affiliate Marketing and E-Mail Marketing, Deals Management
Lecturer: Ronan O’Brien of Zatori
Module 5: Transaction Management
Lecturer: Bob Curran of Buy4Now
Module 6: eCommerce Customer Services: CRM – Relationships and Returns
Lecturer: Bob Curran of Buy4Now
Module 7: eCommerce Customer Services: Deliveries and Deadlines
Lecturer: Rory O’Connor of Scurri.com
Module 8: International e-Commerce: Translations & Transactions
Lecturer: Mark Rodgers of Cipherion Translations
Module 9: Metrics / Analytics
Lecturer : David Murphy of Amplify
Module 10: Content – Images and Copy
Lecturer: Fiona Ashe of FlasheForward Communications
Module 11: Mobile Commerce
Lecturer: Sian Gray, Mobile Marketing specialist (Nokia)
FREE Module : Breakfast Briefing Managing Customer Information: Your Legal Obligations as an eCommerce Manager from Gary Davies, Assistant Data Protection Commissioner
If you’ve got customer information on file you will need to know in what form and for how long you can store it. You will also need to know for what you may use it. You will need to be fully aware of your obligations as a retailer vis a vis Trading Standards etc.. This module is painful but necessary!
The hallowed day has arrived. Actually it arrived on 27th June but I have been busy training my new colleague Vicki in advance of my departure from the IIA so apologies for not noting this sooner on the blog.
But before you dash off I thought I would draw your attention to our new categories.
We have done away with a few (sorry!), updated three (mobile app developer, social media & digital marketing) and created 4 entirely new categories:
- Best Open Data Initiative
- Best Breakthrough Brick to Click
- Best Cloud Service
- Best Rookie
We’re particularly excited about these 4 categories (yes, yes, of course, you’re all winners to us) because they reflect changing technologies, society and practices. We devised Best Breakthrough Brick to Click to recognise some of the amazing cases we’ve heard about over the last year and a half or so while running our 8 Ways series for Online Retailers (although nominees don’t have to be just retailers!). Best Rookie was devised to recognise not only graduates who are making a splash in online business but also those who have made a change to their career to get involved in any aspect of online business.
After the success of Open for Business it made perfect sense for us to celebrate Open Data Initiatives and we’re hoping the shortlist will be an inspiration to many other initiatives in the future. Best Cloud Service acknowledges some of the fabulous and innovative cloud projects that have grown up, many of them wholly Irish, in the last few years.
So now you are dismissed to go and nominate to your heart’s content. Nominations close 29 July 2011.
This review is part of a series of reviews that you can expect to see over the next while from the Social Media Working Group. This first one is by Eamonn O’Brien, Founder of The Reluctant Speakers Club. Here he reviews The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media, by Joan Curtis and Barbara Giamanco:
This book offers an introductory guide for people who need to figure out how to both understand and harness social media in a world where traditional sales techniques may have had their day. As such, it probably won’t serve as more than light reading for seasoned social media pros.
The authors spend the first half of the book outlining the revolution that has occurred in the way businesses and customers/consumers communicate – and why companies need to learn how to adapt to a new sales era, dubbed Sales 2.0. They argue that since customers are now more in control of what they buy, and have instant access to more information prior to when they make purchase decisions, that a modern form of consultative selling (which integrates the power of social media to develop better relationships, trust and customer collaboration) needs to be used as a replacement for traditional push based selling techniques.
While there are many nuggets to be found in the first 8 chapters, including author observations, examples of how politicians and companies are adapting to/benefiting from communication changes plus a quite interesting potted history lesson on the evolution of selling approaches from the 19th to the 21st century, much of the information provided at the outset of the book appears to be rehashing of stories and observations that have been doing the rounds for some time (online and offline). Also, many of the points made in the first half of the books seemed be endless variations of a single theme; “Embrace the new technology… move away from old sales approaches, they won’t work any longer with the 21st century buyer”.
That said, the second half of the book (when the authors get into a more ‘how to’ mode) is likely to prove both interesting and genuinely useful to anyone who needs practical suggestions on how to harness social media for sales and marketing purposes. The authors did an especially good job on how Sales meets LinkedIn and Sales meets Twitter, including really helpful ‘do’s and don’ts’ tips.
Also, their observations on how to use blogging to drive better Google site rankings together with their suggested ‘rules of engagement for bloggers’ are spot on. But the real value in this book comes at the end, with a case study style 30 day social media sales challenge. This blow by blow demonstration of how social media can be used and why – together with suggestions re goal setting and performance measuring – sold me on this book, all on its own.
My Overall Book Rating: 4 out of 5
Thanks a million Eamonn! More from the authors on their website.
BarCamp is an ad-hoc "un-conference" born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from attendees. Anyone with something to contribute or with the desire to learn is welcome and invited to join.
What makes this event different is that those who attend are welcome to contribute to the day; you can chose to speak on a particular topic of expertise – sign up on the day or contact us in advance if you want to be prepared. Four sessions will run simultaneously, you can decide on the day what to attend. Refreshments will be available and it is an excellent opportunity to network. This is what attendees said of last year’s event…
BarCamp Cork is fun while you dunk yourself in the cooking pot. This is where you catch up on the future – get a good view on what’s coming over the horizon – and new ways of using stuff you thought you knew.
Treat yourself to a day that’ll sharpen you up on the latest trends.
To register your attendance or sign up to speak to go http://www.barcampcork.com
Panel discussion at 2pm "Taking the rough with the smooth – trading through difficult times" featuring the following panel of entrepreneurs:
Kevin Traynor – CEO www.sonicacademy.com
Kevin is the founder of Sonic Academy which he set up in Belfast in 2004 as a training facility for DJs and music technology enthusiasts, which has since become the premier facility of its kind in Ireland. A former drummer with one of Ireland’s most successful bands The Divine Comedy, it wasn’t long before he dumped the drums in favour of decks and began DJ’ing and promoting club nights between London and Belfast. Since then he has notched up appearances in Holland, France, Italy and Australia and played alongside some of the worlds’ best DJs from James Zabiela to Adam Freeland and DJ Dexter to Tiefschwarz.
Kevin was awarded the Prince’s Trust Young Achiever of the Year Award in 2005 for his work in setting up Sonic Academy. He also sits on the board of Disability Action Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Employers Group of Creative & Cultural Skills (the Sector Skills Council for the Creative and Cultural Industries).
Colm Lyons – CEO RealexPayments.com
Colm Lyon is Founder and Managing Director of Realex Payments. He is highly regarded as one of the foremost innovation leaders in the online payment processing business. His career has spanned almost twenty five years in payment related businesses, starting with fourteen years in the financial service sector.
Colm founded Realex Payments in 2000 and since then the business has grown rapidly to a position of inspired leadership in the online payment processing business. The payment exchange concept, which he conceived has proven to be the market winning approach in that it offers a strategic solution which addresses the core issues. Today Realex Payments process in excess of €6bn for 3,000 businesses.
Colm is a regular industry speaker. In 2005 he was acclaimed and rewarded for his leadership when he was a finalist of the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. As an industry figure he was Director and Chairman of the Irish Internet Association for over four years – during which time the association significantly enhanced its position. He was invited (2008) by Enterprise Ireland to participate in the Steering Group to devise the strategy for the Irish Software Sector. In 2009 he lead the development of the Internet Growth Alliance (www.alliance.ie) with Ray Nolan and Dylan Collins which is working with Enterprise Ireland to develop a new support structure program for Irish Internet businesses. He is a graduate of University College Dublin with a Bachelor of Commerce and a Master of Management Science Degree.
Jerry Kennelly – Founder & former CEO of Stockbyte and Stockdisc – sold to Getty Images for over €110 Million.
As well as establishing and selling his highly successful stock images business, Jerry has been honoured by the Deloitte Fast 50 Awards and was named the Ernst & Young Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year in 2005. Jerry has been instrumental in the launch and roll out of the very successful Young Entrepreneur Programme which is aimed at fostering an entrepreneurship culture among second and third level students. He has spearheaded the programme since the concept was first mooted in 2006 with the Institute and Kerry Technology Park. Jerry is also central to the development of the recently launched Endeavour Programme.
Asheesh Dewan – Founder of Jaipur Restaurants and co-founder of Segala
Asheesh Dewan is the founder of Jaipur Indian restaurants, which employ over 100 people. With six restaurants in his group in Ireland, the most recent one being Ananda in Dundrum shopping centre, Asheesh is also the proprietor of Benares in London, one of the first Indian restaurants in the UK to be awarded a Michelin star. In March 2009, Asheesh was awarded the Ulster Bank Business Achievers Award and last year was named Permanent TSB Ethnic Entrepreneur of the Year 2008. He is also a co-founder of Segala, an IT company which specialises in web accessibility and mobile web standards compliance certification.
See who’s attending here
See the speakers schedule here
The Irish Internet Association are delighted to announce the 15 shortlists for the 2009 IIA & Enterprise Ireland Net Visionary Awards. The awards will take place on May 21st 2009 in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Santry, Dublin. The Net Visionary Awards are an annual awards ceremony that celebrate the best in online business in Ireland. On the night of the awards, an overall Net Visionary is announced. Previous overall Net Visionary award winners include most recently Pat Phelan, MAXRoam, Fergus Burns, Nooked.com, and Ray Nolan of Hostelworld.com.
Fergal O’Byrne, commenting on this year’s shortlist, said, "This year’s shortlist covers a broad range of businesses from a variety of sectors. It includes gardeners, car maintenance companies, companies in the media and hospitality sectors, financial services, educators and communicators. This wide range of companies, small and large, demonstrates that more and more business people are turning to the internet as a cost effective, easy to use and measurable resource. All of these elements are key to maintaining a profit in difficult times. Awards like the Net Visionary Awards highlight the very best of the best, inspiring other Irish businesses and demonstrating the potential of moving your business online."
Nominations were accepted online from the public between February 23rd and March 27th 2009. Over 350 valid nominations were received, more than any previous year. Each of these nominations were assessed by a panel of judges who whittled them down to 15 shortlists of 5 each. The public are now invited to vote in each category until May 1st 2009.
Tickets for the awards can be booked online at www.netvisionary.ie. The awards are preceded this year by the IIA National Congress: Better Business Online in a Tough Economy: Money, Marketing, Monitoring & Mobile which continues until Friday May 22nd 2009 in the same venue.
There are 15 categories. This year’s supported charity is the Irish Multiple Births Association.
At the start of 2009 we undertook a survey among Irish businesses that already have blogs. We asked them a number of questions to try and understand the objectives of their blogging activities, what results they were seeing and how much time and effort they put into managing their blogs.
We will be discussing the results in detail at the Business Blogging breakfast briefing on April 22nd, but in the meantime here are the high-level survey results:
IIA Members iQContent have launched iQPrize. They want to help grow a good idea into a great business and they would like to hear from everyone and anyone. They plan to invest EUR10,000 in the idea that impresses them most. Closing date for entries is May 12th and at time of writing they had 16 entries. Not bad odds.
Find out more at iQPrize.ie or watch the video below where Morgan McKeagney, iQContent CEO explains all.
I have some great ideas for the IIA website that EUR10,000 could put a serious dent in; maybe I should have a wee chat with them… 🙂
While I’m not suggesting that you spend $695.00 on the report Podcasting: Into the Mainstream from eMarketer. (Do by all means if you like 🙂 ) eMarketer does share some interesting statistics about the growth in popularity of the podcast among US internet users.
The US podcast audience is ballooning, and eMarketer projects that growth will continue at least through 2013. By then, there will be 37.6 million people who download podcasts monthly, more than double the 2008 figure of 17.4 million.
As a percentage of Internet users, podcast downloaders are expected to grow from 9% in 2008 to 17% in 2013.
Much of the time where US internet use goes, Irish internet use follows. (Though not always!) For businesses podcasting can be a very effective way to show your expertise in your area; share tips with your customers about your products and services; and to develop customer loyalty among many other benefits. The IIA Social Media Working Group are going to workshop the draft of their Guide to Business Podcasting. This is an opportunity to participate in the creation of this guide and hopefully learn something new in the process. Both newbies and old hands are welcome but please register.
If you would like to get an idea of how the workshop will shape up, appropriately enough you can listen to the podcast of the workshop of the draft Guide to Business Blogging created by Krishna De last December. Krishna will also be facilitating this workshop so expect plenty of nuggets!