Social Media on the Job

Mikerdzign Twitter PageAs we all are pioneering into this great open space called social media we’ve found there are many trials and tribulations along the way. We’ve all experienced the highs and lows of our new semi-celebrity status. To stay current and with the times we’ve stuck with it despite the nay-sayers, the fear mongerers and the corporate doubters. Along the way we’ve found some new friends and confidants as well as realizing that some of our old friends are not the same. In my own experiment I have found that my hidden and controlled life has become exposed, my beliefs and convictions, my temperament and professionalism challenged. This isn’t just a way to connect within a like minded click of internet forum techies, this is a mass public transit of people of varying beliefs and purpose. Some want to sell, some want to learn, some want to be a part of something bigger and some just want to re-connect. How do you put yourself out there with so many different directions, how do you control your own path when there are so many viral pathays of thought? 10 years ago no one would have conceived of expressing themselves in such a public way, and many today still can’t and won’t. There have been repercussions, layoffs and I’m sure lawsuits. Many have been burned by putting out posts that should have never been entered.

Hopefully you set out with a strategy, a set of guidelines within your organization or at least a set of personal rules. Here are some potential guidelines I would recommend from my own experience of work related posting.

Be Real but be Professional. If you are posting for your organization, make it clear that you are doing so and get approval for your postings, discuss the orientation and manner of discussion you are promoting with all who will be involved and I would even suggest having regular meetings on the relevancy and course you have set out on. Social media is transparent in that you are yourself and not a marketing robot who put’s out mindless sales leads. Be real but be focused, and be professional.

Be positive and Pay-it-Forward. As said before, social media is not a techie forum for complaints. You put yourself at risk every-time you complain or vent about someone or some thing. Social media requires that we are accountable.

Inform and Educate. Don’t expect folks to flock to your account and comment on all of your wonderfully articulated posts, put something useful out, something that promotes not just you and your business but something that maybe educates folks on your industry.

Bite your Tongue. If someone posts something mean and nasty on your wall, hold on for a bit, bite your tongue long enough to let your emotions calm before posting something you’ll regret, especially if it’s a work related page. Stay professional.

Leave them Hanging – Don’t Overdo it. You don’t need to give every detail of your day. The best posts are the ones that tease or leave them hanging. The best thing about social media is that we often are all dealing with the same issues and you don’t need to say a lot to get a response “This wind really blows!!!”  or “Pay Day – I’m buying!”

Give Credit. If you are re-tweeting on Twitter or sharing a Facebook post be sure to give due credit to the original person who posted.

Don’t be a SM Snob. If all you are doing is putting info out and not responding to posts on your wall or mentions, tweets or direct messages than you are no better than the celebrities who are taking over social media and turning it into just another spotlight on them. Social media is about engaging. I’m not even sure why celebrities are on SINCE MOST ONLY FOLLOW OTHER CELEBRITIES AND FORCE US PEONS TO WATCH THEIR CONVERSATIONS WITHOUT BEING ABLE TO COMMENT!!! – whoa, do I seem bitter.

Don’t Vent. Unless you are ready to laugh at yourself, (refer to above commentary on celebrities).

Don’t use All Caps. Unless you are ready to laugh at yourself, (refer to above commentary on celebrities).

Be Consistant. Don’t post once one week and fifty times the next, post on a regular basis and if you decide to “go off the grid’ for awhile let your followers know.

Don’t be a Fear Mongerer. If you are concerned look it up, research it and put out your well thought-out concerns but don’t spread panic because your accounts been hacked. Just change your password and get back to posting (and stop clicking on links that you know your friends would never, ever send you).

Avoid Politics and Religion. Remember I’m talking about work related posting. On your personal time – do whatever you want.

Related articles:

http://www.ibm.com/blogs/zz/en/guidelines.html

http://123socialmedia.com/2009/01/23/social-media-policy-examples/

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The Contract Proposal

I got a great project recently and felt overwhelmed that I wanted to do everything right. So I needed to re-invest into the contract/proposal, the first step every designer should take in preparing for a job. The contract/proposal is the first and last word in client relations and should be handled very carefully.

Graphic Artist GuildMy original contract is based of the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines. I took snippets of what made sence to me and my business and created a one page contract that covers me in case of a project gone bad. You can also look into AIGA, the American Institute of the Graphic Arts. Their site’s section on Design & Business has a set of useful forms, and contract examples.

After I feel I have the legalities established I create the proposal, which is similar to a cover letter on a resume. Basically I layout the terms of the project and specifics: here is the project Joe-business has requested of my firm, here is how I/we will proceed, this is how much time it will take. I have learned to be careful not to put myself in a hole on time. I layout that a project will follow in phases, and bill accordingly to each phase of a project. This way if I quote x amount of $ on providing three comps of a logo design, and the client decides he wants to go in an entirely different direction, I can charge him/her for a different phase.

I also include a creative brief to gather any information I can on the project. This is something that can be established in a prior meeting and then reinforced in writing with a pdf form. I make one page of questions and leave room for explanations. All in all I try to keep the contract/proposal very short: one page for the cover letter, one to cover price and time estimates, one for the creative brief and one for the actual contract terms.

In my research I came upon several related articles on the contract:

Using freelance graphic design contracts. www.davidairey.com

BoDo (Business of Design Online) kindly allow you to download their own information in PDF format: Download free forms, from BoDo.

What to include in your design contracts. www.thedesigncubicle.com

Brian Hoff is a self-employed graphic designer living in Philadel­phia and known to many in the design industry as the founder of the popular design blog, The Design Cubicle.


Happy belated Halloween

Halloween Avatar

Halloween Miker

I created a halloween avatar and was quite proud of it, however didn’t feel like I got much life out of it as it was only up for one day. So being the visual narcissist that I am I thought I would post it on my blog to get an extended amount of non-gratuitous exposure.

Actually I got some great feedback. So for WordPress here’s to a belated Happy Halloween!

 


Creative Introvert and Social Media.

There are two types of creatives in my experience. The typical extrovert, who we all know and love. They are the rock stars, the life of the party that we all hope to, by osmosis, absorb our own creative side from. Clients flock to these creative guru’s as if they were doctors who could heal their creative crisis with their own personal style of enigmatic flare. They may be prima donna’s but they get the job done no matter how much attention they may require. On the other side of creative expression is the introvert, more closely related to the studio artist who does his greatest work from the private confines of his own studio. Society at large does not quite know what to do with this type. They tend to need space to work out their creativity and may not inspire the same pizzaz, but are cool cats nonetheless.

In society in general extroverts tend to outweigh the introvert population by 3 – 1 putting “innie’s” at a disadvantage. Trying to get noticed and bring attention to yourself as an introvert is difficult in a sea of extroverts who have made the loud and vibrant persona the standard. When it comes to social media, perhaps the introvert finally has a shot. The misconception about introverts is that they  are antisocial and prefer to be left alone, which is not typically the case. Introverts need to challenge themselves with social interaction or else they can end up in isolation.

Social media may be a beam of hope for introverts for it has created celebrity out of mediocrity worldwide. Everything we do is posted for all to see no matter who we are. For those of us who tend to not embellish on everything we do and live seemingly non-eventful life’s, it would appear that this was just another chance to be out-shined. It has been said of introverts that they access their information from long term memory storage, while extroverts have info on demand in short term memory. This explains why introverts don’t do well in social situations. However social media is perfectly suited for heavy thinkers who don’t always have a quick reply, but take more time to think and analyze their response. On Social Media platforms you write about things that are real, and reflect on them in a somewhat quick tempoed way. It’s quick snippets of reality that can can be thought out and filtered. On Facebook and Twitter one can reply with every bit of cleverness as the next quick-witted extrovert, from the confines of their own comfortable world.

Since my interaction with a growing community I have found that my career as a graphic designer, who rarely sees the light of day, has changed significantly. People in my community who never had a chance to get to know me, now know the deepest insights of my day-to-day life. The transparency that I reveal in my postings becomes subject matter for conversation or just a recognized “hello” from someone who before wouldn’t be so sure to say “hi” given what might come across as an intimidating or, as a percieved antisocial exterior. With Facebook my avatar is always smiling and open for comment, and my posts are typically upbeat. I can’t say how much I enjoy corresponding with my local and extended communities and sharing a since of connection by simply posting what I had for lunch, what the weather’s like or the funny thing my kid said. Opponents to social media will criticize the lunch comments or the simplicity of 140 characters and how nothing can be truly gained. However aren’t these the fundamentals of everyday conversation. “Hey Bob what about that game last night.” “So Jill have you been to that new restaurant.” Or, “guess what movie I saw last night.” This is how extroverts do it right? They start small and lead up to in-depth conversations, thus the blog or the link to the site and the eventual friend status. For this I thank the masterminds behind these applications and the new world communication they have allowed for.

Some related blogs in research of this subject:

Creative innie By Mary McCauley-Stiff

Introvert and social media by Ladunkin

Don’t Reduce Your Designers And Developers To Stereotypes by Rob Borley


How I made My Avatar

So I’m pretty sure I get a lot of follows based on my Avatar. Not to say that my real face is hideous and folks would shun me because of my non-blue complexion, but I think people are drawn to the creative aspect. As a graphic designer I’ve always felt it important to make a statement about my craft with my resume/portfolio, so representing myself in an illustrated graphic makes since for me, whereas a realtor, for example should probably go with their true face. Of course now you can get your own illustrated face through several sources on the web, and there are plenty of those hip little avatars from various social media apps but mine is truly custom and I do think it brings attention to my social media outlets.

Relevant Magazine -Keanu Reeves

Relevant Magazine -Keanu Reeves

Now the blue wasn’t my idea to be fair, in fact I got the idea sitting in a auto mechanics shop (waiting for my then blue chevy blazer to be worked on). I remember sitting in the small waiting room inclosed with windows that faced the penetrating and blinding sun, I sat with my two boys around 5 and 7 years old at the time, bored, thirsty, hot and driving me nuts playing with the door that rang every-time you opened it! And there it was the inspitration, sitting on the coffee table under a stack of People and US magazines, an image of hope to a designer needing a new motivation. Keeanu Reeves, in blue on the cover of RELEVANT magazine. The coolest thing I ever saw, I asked the mechanic if I could take the magazine, he didn’t seem to care. In it I found the content interesting, kind of a hip religious magazine targeted at 20 somethings, as a designer the design and illustration of the magazine and articles really moved me, it truly was a new inspiration point in my career. [Cue the chorus of angels]. 

 

Steps to becoming blue

Steps to becoming blue

So I decided I couldn’t let Keeanu have all the glory and thought maybe this would make for a cool client christmas card that I could send to my clients, to put my smiling face fresh in their minds. The process involved me late one night taking photos of my self, then a not so common necessity as avatars were virtually non existent. I then pulled the photo into Adobe Photoshop and applied a blue hue to the photo via the poster effect and hue saturation sliders. I followed by pulling the photo into Adobe Illustrator and began with tracing over the  posterized colors. Posterization is cool because it breaks a photo down into basic colors, you can specify the amount of colors you want represented, the less you specify the larger the blocks of color, and you end up with a flat looking image that is less difficult to simulate in a vector program like Illustrator. As you can see, it took a number of steps to get to the final, (and I’m leaving out quite a bit regarding drawing with bezier tools and adding gradients). Illustrator’s layers allow for opening and closing of top and bottom layers so you can see what you’re doing from start to finish. Starting from Basic elements like face and hair shape to more detailed elements like eyes and facial hair, also the white outline which gives the illustration an added illustrative feel, is a duplicate of the entire image that is then added to the back with the white outline. Pleased with the final result I was able to produce the christmas cards, added snowflakes and all, and go on to use this same image in a number of other ways including my avatar in apps like Twitter, Facebook, Blip and of course WordPress. Thanks Keanu, and thanks RELEVANT Magazine for showing me the light.  Just so you know I’m not slighting the content of your magazine, I did become a subscriber and I am also a volunteer core member in my kids religious teen group.


To Tweet, or not to Tweet

 

So since I’ve engaged myself into twitter on  432 updates ago, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Now 272 follows and 200 followers later, I am part of something bigger than I could have ever imagined. Has it changed my life, has it made me smarter? Probably not, but it has given me an inside to, not one, but several communities where I don’t have to look far for information. This is an avant garde community of social media whiz’s, computer geeks, marketeers and genuinly nice people who like to pay-it-forward. The Internet has grown too large for anyone person or company to conceivably understand or get a grip on, not even Google, well maybe Google. Tools like Twitter help us to have a much larger grasp. Now it’s not just me watching for new trends and informative sites but I have a community of 200 sets of eyes watching and sharing – for FREE!!!

In the Beginning

First ever tweet

First ever tweet

Look at me so young, so impressionable yet already trying to spread myself on the vast social network. The idea is to spread yourself, get your name and/or brand all the exposure you can, and become part of the network. With combined Social Media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Blip and WordPress.com I have indeed become part of many social networks. 

Local Tweeps Only

@solop the local hero

@solop the local hero

 

Originally I decided I only needed to find local twitter users to grow my network within my hometown community. Here is an example twituation where I was particularly upset that my furnace had gone out in the middle of winter. (I later erased the Tweet because of the language I was using at the time.) In response to my fowl tweet, @Solop a local college professor, media political consultant and all around good guy came to my rescue with the above bit of advice. It wasn’t a long term solution but the response to my cry was far beyond what I expected at 10:00 at night. Wow, immediate response to a problem! For me it was networking at its best. I could go on about the theater tickets I was able to get at a sold out show, or the news I learned before the morning paper came out, but you get the idea. It brings you closer to the goings on in your community.

World at Large

So it wasn’t long before I realized the power of Twitter and all the followers I had been passing up, I was now slowly adding to my twippertoire. Basically I developed rules for followers. 

  1. Must have bio info and place of origin filled.
  2. Must have avater picture – not default Twitter icon.
  3. Must have something in common.
  4. Must not be trying to directly sell me something.

I’m sure I’ve already broken some of these rules and will eventually decide that 200 is not enough, just like I did when I got 100.

The World just Got Smaller

Hi, mikerdzign.
The_Best_Job is now following your updates on Twitter.
http://twitter.com/The_Best_Job

The Best Job follow

The Best Job follow

Upon hearing about the Best Job ever Queensland Island contest on the radio I quickly went to tweet about it as something cool worth tweeting about. Later that day I was followed by the promoters of the contest. Three steps to direct contact:

  1. Heard about it on traditional media.
  2. Tweeted it to my, mostly, local community 
  3. Searched by, found and followed by the campaign. 

It is clear the power of this application to get closer to your audience if used correctly and, in addition to, (not replacing) traditional forms of advertising. 

So in closing I would say yes, if you want to participate, learn, grow and engage with a growing audience of participants world-wide then undoubtedly Yes! Get involved. If you want to just get on and promote your product, or not tweet and just listen in, I would say no, it’s not for you. It’s about transparency, being real and paying-it-forward, and yes it’s about what you ate this morning too.


Holiday Card

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

2008-09 Holiday Card to my Clients: I’d been thinking of putting a card like this together for awhile. When I got my full time job I retained many of my clients from my once previous full-time freelance business. (I say full-time but really I was doing diaper duty with my youngest.) My goal was to send a message that even though my client time had been reduced to late evenings and weekends with my new full time job, I still am there for my clients and feel pretty good about it. I love my freelance business. The majority of my clients I consider friends and enjoy continued work with them. I also love my Mac and feel empowered by it, as represented above. The other half of the card is pretty much how my office looks, behind me a long cubicle wall and in front a PC. I’ve successfully adapted to the 40 hr week and to the PC and the benefits are great. All in all I consider myself pretty lucky to have sustained in my industry in a small town, and have two jobs doing pretty much the same thing, something that I love. How sweet it is.