Digital Artifact and Contextual Essay

You can download the Digital Artifact PDF by clicking this link.

Individual pages of the Digital Artifact PDF

Contextual Essay

“A crash Course in Social Media for the time-poor small business!” is a digital PDF mini-guide for people who are interested in or who have start a small business either as a business entity, a freelancer, or a sole trader. The original intention for this digital artifact was for it to be a series of short videos, however due to the density of the subject matter and the amount of text, the decision was made for to be presented in this alternative format.

In this mini-guide I have collated a series of tips and advice on how to effectively optimize your early business practices in a way that is suitable for future content creation on various social media platforms. This guide is intended to be a great way to line out the groundwork and set strong foundations for anticipating growth with social media for anyone looking into running their own social media accounts. It aims to simplify the process of choosing platforms and creating content in an easy-to-follow format.

This guide is not meant to be too in-depth or comprehensive, and as such gives generalised advice. It encourages the reader to do their own market research and their own planning to boost their social media visibility and gain confidence in independent content management. As it was originally intended to be series of videos, the early stages of the artifact were divided into separate categories. This enabled the guide to be formatted clearly with little to no unnecessary content.

In addition to the foreword and conclusion pages, the main content body is divided into three subcategories: Identity, market, and content. I have chosen to format the artifact in this way to create a clear path through the material. The guide advises that the information and advice within is best followed in order, as each sub-category contains steps that will help in the next ones. Each sub-category has three points of advice with a simple heading preceding each one. This makes the information easier to reference as well as remember.

The guide also uses the #FIST methodology as a starting point to most of the advice given within the text. Throughout the guide the principles of the FIST methodology are reiterated as a constant reminder to the reader not to become overwhelmed. When writing the guide – which was originally to be the transcript of the videos I was going to create – I also followed the subject mantra of “the medium is the message”, using this as my own guideline for the content.

The design combines bright and muted colours of the Pantone 2017 “Greenery” colour palette entitled Transitions. This is a modern colour palette paired with bold and simple fonts to ensure the content is easy to read and easy to follow. I avoided the use of graphical images to emphasize the content itself.

Throughout the creation of the mini-guide I relied heavily upon my own experiences with the subject matter presented to formulate the advice given, and as such there are very few references used. There are also no references in the text itself however the list below includes some resources that I have read throughout the semester and may have influenced the content in the artifact.

 

Reference list

BirdBrain. 2017. Top 10 Social Media Tips for Small Businesses | BirdBrain. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.birdbrain.com.au/blog/top-10-social-media-tips-small-businesses/. [Accessed 22 June 2017].

Building The Agile Business. 2017. FIST – Fast, Inexpensive, Simple, Tiny – Building The Agile Business. [ONLINE] Available at: http://agilebusinessmanifesto.com/agilebusiness/fist-fast-inexpensive-simple-tiny/. [Accessed 22 June 2017].

Sprout Social. 2017. Social Media Demographics for Marketers | Sprout Social. [ONLINE] Available at: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/new-social-media-demographics/. [Accessed 22 June 2017].

Use social media to boost business | Business Victoria . 2017. Use social media to boost business | Business Victoria . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.business.vic.gov.au/marketing-sales-and-online/online-business-and-technology/social-media-for-business/using-social-media-to-boost-business. [Accessed 22 June 2017].

Using social media to market your business: the basics | Business Queensland. 2017. Using social media to market your business: the basics | Business Queensland. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.business.qld.gov.au/running-business/marketing-sales/marketing-promotion/online-marketing/social-media. [Accessed 22 June 2017].

 

Advertisements

Digital Artifact: Video Transcript!

A crash Course in Social Media for the time-poor small business!

Video #1: INTRODUCTION

So you’ve decided to start a small business. Congratulations! But… You need customers. Word of mouth is great, but you can’t sustain your business on word-of-mouth alone.

We live in a constantly connected world, and in order to be noticed you need to make sure you stand out. We can do this by starting with the trinity of social media:
>Identity; Market; Content.
In that order!

To keep yourself from being overwhelmed we need to follow one simple guideline: #FIST. #FIST is a way to keep things simple and ensure you don’t throw your money down the drain. So what does #FIST mean?

FAST – INEXPENSIVE – SIMPLE – TINY

In the world of small business, the work never ends; no matter how tired you are. So you need to find a strategy that works for you!A note before we begin though – this is just a starting point with general advice. There won’t be any in depth guides on specific platforms… for now. These are all simple tricks that I have picked up over the past few years!

The first step to starting your businesses online profile is to find the business’s IDENTITY.

If you have no clear idea of who you are and what you do, your customers won’t, either – and you’ll be forgotten. Stay tuned for the next video for us to really dive into these tips.

 

Video #2: IDENTITY

So let’s say you’re starting a small business – you need to find your target market, and brand yourself. You need a solid identity for the business – not only will you be noticed, but it will also stop you from constantly changing direction in the future, leaving your clients confused.

Here are some tips to help you with this:

  1. Sum up what you do in a few words; preferably 5 or less.
    Of course you can expand on this, but being able to really narrow down your field will help when prospective customers search for your business. For example, instead of “market analyst who specialises in social media and advertising on websites”, you could refine that to “Online Market Analyst” – and then expand on this in your ‘about me’ sections. Think of this short summary as the core of your business – something to stay true to.
  2. Have consistent branding!
    You’ll also want to figure out your personal branding and style – and then keep that consistent. While it may be tempting to change your identity every time growth feels slow, try to avoid this and instead ensure you are staying true to your brand’s identity. It is important to consider your future tarket market when approaching your branding: if you are workind in a formal field with professional clients, you’ll want to avoid using comic sans. Conversely, if you want to market towards the average family, you’ll want to avoid looking too luxurious.You need to look at what it is you do, why you do it, and who you’re doing it for. Then you’ll need to make yourself a logo that is simple and easy to reproduce, that identifies your brand immediately (but doesn’t infringe on any copyrights for other business logos) and that will work cross-platform and through print media, too. Pick one or two fonts to work with too, so that when you produce your content, that looks consistent as well.
  3. Stay true to your values.
    Set some goals and guidelines for your business. A great way to do this is to have two lists: one for “I will strive to”, and “I will avoid” – and stick to these principles. These are in addition to standard business practices and laws, and will be ideologies behind your business and will set you apart from others that do the same thing. For example – “I will strive to involve my customer with the process every step of the way” and “I will avoid making excuses for why a job is taking longer than expected” are a couple of great ones for those who freelance in creative industries.

So now you know who you are. You’ve made yourself some guidelines. But you need people to sell to. It’s time to find your MARKET.

 

Video #3: MARKET

This can be a tricky situation for some small businesses, particularly those in very populated areas, or those exclusively online. It is very easy to be swamped by other businesses who offer the same thing yours does, so finding your target market and being able to market to them effectively will ensure that you have direction for growth. A common misconception is that you should try to broaden your market as much as you can so that you can be inclusive of all people – however for small businesses this is usually impractical and can leave you feeling very overwhelmed very quickly. Remember #FIST: we want to keep this simple! Here are some ways to help with that.

  1. Streamline your products and be flexible.
    When we look at huge businesses, like in the telecommunications industry, it is very easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of products and services they offer. You may begin to wonder how you can compete, and the answer is simple: you don’t! If you try to offer the same amount of range that they do, you’ll find yourself overworked and offering more than you can potentially fulfill. For example – a photographer might look at larger media companies with set packages and prices and feel like that would be the way to go. As a small business, freelancer or sole trader however, you have the advantage of flexibility and it’s one you should take. Avoid setting rigid packages and prices, and always be approachable by your customers. They will appreciate service taylored to their needs and their budget. People like being treated like more than a number – so if you extend that respect towards them, it will be very appreciated.
  2. Observe your local market and stand out.
    Have you already started a businesses and found that you’re struggling to really grow and kick off? There may be an oversaturated market in your area. A great way to evaluate your competitors is to just jump onto Google and do some research. Remember those keywords you created to describe your own business? Use them! Search for those and similar keywords, and then add the area to the end. Let’s say you just bought an awesome top-of-the-line drone and you want to do get some paid work for it. You’ve got all your permits, you’ve practiced and you’re ready to go. You jump on to google and search for “Drone Videography Sydney” and you get 12 returns – and those are just the ones on google maps! So you’re now facing a saturated market. You need to now find a point of difference – something you can offer that everyone else may not be able to. Something that makes you unique and may even fill a gap in that market. This can be a long and boring process of clicking through all these websites, researching their offers, and then brainstorming a way to stand out: but it is a very important one in order to avoid being overshadowed.
  3. Market towards a specific few crowds.
    Marketing towards a few specific crowds is a great way to keep things cheap and targeted. As your business expands you will be able to expand your target market as well – but when starting out try to keep things small! Look at the products that you offer, and the skills that you have, and see who they may benefit most or appeal to at this point in time. If you’ve just started a trendy cafe and milkshake bar with loud music and want to do most of your advertising through Instagram for that viral fame, your target market will be younger people who love expressing themselves instead of older people who don’t even know what a hashtag is. So narrow down a field that you specialise in; catering business? Perhaps you could start out small, targeting corporate clients for their lunch meetings, or weddings and formal events with some gourmet meals. Narrowing your target market will make it so much easier to target ads through Google and Facebook, and will also help with content creation as well!

Once you’ve streamlined your offers, filled the gaps in your local market, and you’ve found your target market, you’ll want to start attracting some interest with your brand by generating appropriate CONTENT.

 

Video #4: CONTENT

The home stretch. The content you produce will be THE way that you can spread the word about your small business, so you need to curate it carefully. If you’ve followed the steps so far, though, generating effective content will be so much easier! You have your targeted audience already through finding your targeted market, you have your own identity as a guideline to follow. Now you just need to figure out what is appropriate. The following steps will help guide you with this.

  1. Choose your social media platforms.
    This can be overwhelming. There are so many social media platforms out there, how do you know which ares are for you? Thankfully if you’ve followed along so far, we have an easy way to find out! The best starting point would be to find out what platforms your target market use the most. Facebook is the largest social media platform across all age groups. The quickest way to find out is to simply search for the key terms “Demographics of Social Media Users” – you can further refine this by country, as well. You’ll also want to consider the type of business you are and choose a few platforms that complement your business. If you are in a creative industry, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook are great for sharing images and videos of the work you have been producing and are quick ways to engage with your customers. A more formal and professional industry, such as IT support, would benefit from Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn in addition to Facebook as a way to market to other business or to share industry relevant news. Have a look at the benefits that each unique platform is able to offer and if you see a way to take advantage of that, go for it. But you want to avoid trying to be on all of them at once; that will get expensive and tiring very fast.
  2. Don’t neglect your website.
    Your website is where people should find most of the information about your business. It should link to all of your social media, and your social media should all link back to your website. Update the content regularly and be very thorough about what you put on there. Keep the layout simple and easy to follow – if you find your website is covered in links and has more than two menus, your customers will get lost. Don’t forget to include very clear contact information and have a contact form that will reach you directly – and create a professional email address just for your business. Do not use your personal email – it looks very unprofessional and many people will end up thinking you’re cheap or inexperienced. In order for your site to be visible on search engines, you can also look into SEO (Search Engine Optimization) but that is a very complicated process. There are people out there who can help you with this, however!
  3. Curate your content appropriately.
    The final and most important point to content generation – curation. This is why we took great care in selecting appropriate platforms that match our target market, and why we don’t limit ourselves to just one social media platform. The reason why it’s recommended to choose a few different platforms is because each one has its own advantage in terms of formatting and content presentation. Instagram is great for photos and short videos. Facebook is an awesome way to interact with your audience and not only share your own content, but to share other content that you find relevant to your business and your target market! Twitter is a micro-blogging platform which is also great for customer interactivity, to share quick information, and other industry relevant news.
    When I say we need to curate our content to each platform, what I mean is that we need to consider the strengths of each platform that we have chosen and create content with those platforms in mind. For example, if you’re a florist, you can use Instagram for sharing beautiful custom bouquets that you’ve created throughout the day as well as ‘behind the scenes’ photos of orders of flowers that you’ve gotten in before you arrange them. On Facebook you can share a video of a fellow staff member arranging something for a large event that you are providing flowers for, or share inspirational images and quotes (making sure to give credit, of course). Be careful to avoid trying too hard to go viral, though – and go easy on the personal opinions. Keep controversial memes and thoughts off your business page as these can and often do backfire.
    Stagger your content across your platforms, though. Avoid sharing the exact same content across all your platforms at once – if you do, then there will be no reason for having different platforms in the first place. Don’t be afraid to occasionally plug your other social media platforms and do cross-platform promotions – just don’t be so overwhelming.
    Make sure that before you create your content that you are taking into account the technical aspects of these platforms as well – filesize limitations as well as recommended dimensions are very important to keep in mind. YouTube is great for horizontal video, but keep your vertical and square format videos to Facebook and Instagram. And for any original content you produce, don’t forget to add your watermark or credit in there somewhere so that the content can be traced back to your business. There’s nothing worse than having another business share your content without credit and gaining all the profit from it!

 

Lastly, never stop interacting, researching and producing. If you go quiet, even for a few days, or completely ignore any interaction your audience and customers attempt to have with you – they will stop trying too, and you’ll be forgotten. Keep learning and stay up to date with platform changes, and be on the lookout for upcoming new features or platforms that may benefit you. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to simplify your processes: remember #FIST. There are programs that you can use to schedule your content releases so if you find yourself too busy to constantly update your pages, it doesn’t go dead, and your business continues to boom!

[Week 6] Digital Artifact Pitch

Or, as I like to call it:

“Consistent and Effective Content Creation for the Time-and-Energy-Impaired”

A digital media artifact concept pitch created by a lazy person, for lazy people.

The concept around my digital artifact was borne from necessity – as most great inventions are. I want to create something useful and tangible: a guide for people like me, who are short on time, and constantly exhausted, to not have to sacrifice succeeding in small or solo business ventures when it comes to the world of digital marketing. For this to make a lot of sense, I feel like I need to fill you in on the background of who I am a little.

A Little bit about me.

I am a sole trader and have been for a few years. In 2013 I got my first dSLR and fell in love with photography. However maintaining the gear soon became very expensive. As more people took an interest in my work, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and turn my hobby into a small business. However – things have been very slow, and juggling with full time study, as well as an anxiety disorder, makes things quite challenging.

The Concept.

I have attended a few seminars on social media marketing, and have done quite a lot of research in order to boost my own online presence. However that hurdle of exhaustion, anxiety and being time-poor (and money-poor) has gotten in the way a lot. But I’m not the only one, and I want my artifact to help as a starting point or guide to people who are in a similar situation to me but want to succeed.

The Methodology.

I have planned to work this in four phases:

  1. Research – finding the right platforms and market for the individual’s needs.
  2. Identity – figuring out who you are as a business entity
  3. Content – appropriate content generation for your business and market
  4. Artifact – creation of my artifact itself – how to present the findings from the above.

I’m hoping to make a video in the same style as my video from a couple of weeks ago – the Medium is the Message Manifesto.

The Why.

That brings me to why I have chosen this particular topic for my digital artifact – aside from the prior of this having been beneficial to me. I believe that what I am trying to do can be greatly enhanced by the methodology of #FIST and the mantra of “The Medium is the Message”.

Keeping it fast, inexpensive, simple, and tiny is a great way to ensure that people don’t get intimidated by the artifact and overwhelmed by information – thus ensuring they don’t get completely turned off by the prospect of online social media marketing. The subject’s mantra of The Medium is the Message is entirely what the artifact is about, simply applied to the world of social media marketing – choosing the appropriate medium for your message so that they complement each other.

Hopefully this serves its purpose in giving some mind-fodder to those who need it and are looking into starting their own business ventures, without wanting to sacrifice their existing obligations.

[Week 5] Trajectories of convergence I: user empowerment, information access, and networked participation

 

Now here is a controversial topic that I have had a lot of thoughts about – and not just because my partner loves to drag me into conversations about it.

Alternative media.

giphy
In this weeks giphy-created gif: Kellyanne Conway defends Sean Spicer’s “Althernative Facts”

I have given up on trusting mainstream media (MSM) news sources a long, long time ago – something I’ve recently noticed – due to the inherent biases behind the industry. I will say with confidence that I do not trust mainstream media. Unfortunately for breaking news stories, it can be hard to find information as they are usually first on the scene, taking any leads and speculating about them to draw out stories.

I do wish that Australian media was much less biased, but I can admit that I’m also glad our media is not as sensationalist as the US media’s industry seems to be. Our current affair programs are usually the worst it gets, where it seems that every news source in the US has that kind of dramatic spin on even the most basic of news programs – Fox being one of the biggest perpetrators of this kind of culture.

So it comes as no surprise that more and more people find themselves turning to alternate media sources to find their information, pass the time, and entertain themselves. MSM sources no doubt believes that the freedom of information from these sources, such as youtubers, podcasters and streamers, can be seen as a threat to their profits – as people are finding the honesty, the uncensored opinions, and the freedom to have differing points of view refreshing – as well as the fact that a lot of journalism is held to strict guidelines which none of these alternative sources have to adhere to, so it is free of the spin, the drama, and the pandering to media executives.

A great example of this would be the way the Wall Street Journal has consistently launched campaigns attacking youtube giant, Pewdiepie – as highlighted back in our week one studies.

 

The advent of Wikileaks has been essentially crucial to this uprising of independent sources against MSM – once again, mostly due to the fact that wikileaks regularly releases confidential and controversial information to the public, without fear of reprisal. This information cannot be regurgitated by MSM for fear of losing their jobs and being sued. Independents, however, have no such fear.

Of course that’s not to say that all these alternative sources should have their words taken as absolute – but that’s the beauty of the internet. It is an open book and you should take everything with a grain of salt – particularly due to the fact that information has the tendency to go viral very quickly, even if it is fake. But with this, also comes the opportunity to do your own research rather than relying on MSM as your main news source.

Credibility has become a complex topic in this modern world – especially with the rise of parody media sources, such as The Onion.

But as previously stated, that’s the beauty of the internet. The credibility no longer lies within the confines of journalistic integrity – as I believe that has long since died, especially with the rise of fear being perpetuated in the media. The integrity and credibility of journalistic research lies within the viewer, who now has the power to research themselves and form their own educated opinion.

[Week 4] The Medium is the Message II: craft, and the logic of digital making

With the help of this handy dandy online tutorial, I made my own glitch art from photoshop! I took a still from my video from last week of all the social media icons, changed the background to white (so as not to potentially blind anyone), and played around in photoshop.

This week we looked at the aesthetics behind glitch art – among other things – but I happened to really like this topic so I’ll look at this. As the ideas channel touched upon in one of our recommended videos for this week, glitchiness is fun and nostalgic; a result of the technology we grew up with not working perfectly.

My first experiences with these kind of glitches really came to me with the infamous Missingno glitch in Pokemon Blue (Or rather as corrected by my research, the (‘M 00) glitch in pokemon blue). This is where, as a young child, and mildly freaked out, I became aware of what happens when you mess with the data of the game and unexpected results were delivered.

This opened my eyes and I became more aware of what happens to other technology as it fades. For instance, watching the Titanic on VHS soooo many times, that the tape wore out and I was no longer able to watch the hilariously tragic scene that is the man jumping to his death and then giving his best fidget spinner impression upon hitting the propellor (I was quite a sadistic child).

So it’s no wonder that as our generation ages and begins to take over the content creation for media that the glitch aesthetic is becoming more ingrained within media culture. What was once associated with grunge, due to it’s ‘broken’ aesthetic, is now considered to be beautiful and artistic in the way of manipulating the data intentionally to deliver a completely different result. Datamoshing is a wonderful example of this and has been used in many film clips, as well. This film clip is a great example of the results of the process and the way it’s achieved.

 

Speaking of all things glitchy, and faulty, and generally a mess…
I created a parody meme of the badly translated quote from the game Zero Wing in which the antagonist proclaims, “all your base are belong to us!”. I decided this would be a great quote to appropriate and stick over my glitch art, given the cyber-punk sci-fi nature of the game itself.

vk4wyxs

[Week 3] The Medium is the Message I: Trajectories of Convergence

Here is this week’s video message (made by yours truly, of course)!

This is a rambling manifesto video I created as a response to Mark Federman’s text, explaining the meaning behind the phrase, The Medium is the Message. The excerpt below, I feel, sums up essentially what I am trying to say in the video. It speaks briefly about how the medium and the message have a relationship of building on one another, and how choosing the correct medium for your message is important for the message and in some cases can even mean more than the message itself.

“But McLuhan always thought of a medium in the sense of a growing medium, like the fertile potting soil into which a seed is planted, or the agar in a Petri dish. In other words, a medium – this extension of our body or senses or mind – is anything from which a change emerges. And since some sort of change emerges from everything we conceive or create, all of our inventions, innovations, ideas and ideals are McLuhan media.”

– Mark Federman, What is the Meaning of The Medium is the Message? P. 2

A consideration in choosing the correct medium would be the history of the medium itself – and possibly the future of said medium. How important was it in the past – how was it used in the past and will it be used differently in the future, or will it be obsolete?

Radio is still going strong as a medium – although it has changed dramatically since the days of crackling AM stations where the family would huddle around and listen to news. Even after the shift from analogue to digital, it continued shifting. There are now stations that are available through the ‘internet’ – and podcasts were a new medium borne from radio’s humble routes. Will radio die? No – however the current iteration of it may. I think in the future radio will be mostly carried through the internet, with every car and radio unit able to connect to the internet satellites.

Let’s have a look at the humble beginnings of radio with thanks to the J.Willard Marriott Library!

 

Brief look at where my artifact is:

I have been thinking about my artifact lately, although briefly. I have a topic I’d like to cover, however I am unsure of how I would be making the artifact itself.

At the moment I’d like to look at making a short guide to building up an online presence for small business or gaming channels, so I will be spending the next few weeks refining that topic and looking up ways to research it.

 

References:

McLuhan, Marshall. (1964) Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. New York: McGraw Hill.

Federman, M. (2004). What is the Meaning of the Medium is the Message? Retrieved from http://individual.utoronto.ca/markfederman/MeaningTheMediumistheMessage.pdf.

YouTube. 2017. The Beginning of Broadcast Radio – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtpOoJzjIT0.