New (and Free) Visual and Video Creation Tool
Last week, Adobe rocked the design world by launching an expansive, super intuitive web-based platform for designing visuals and video called Adobe Spark (Sp). The best part about Spark is that it’s FREE! That’s right, the company who is known as the giant in the creative media industry has created a game-changing media tool that is free! Amazing, right?!
Spark is divided into three categories - Post, Page and Video. In addition to the web-based platform (available to EVERYONE), Adobe has released (essentially, re-released the original Adobe Post app) three stand alone apps - Spark Post, Spark Page and Spark Video. These apps are currently available only to iOS users. It will be released for Android devices in the future, but no timeframe has been publicized yet.
So, what’s the big deal? Well, remember, Spark is FREE and a web-based platform, meaning anyone can create posts for social media, landing pages for websites or video for social/digital media on a desktop at anytime from anywhere - no software, no download, no money!
Adobe has said that they plan to release the ability for premium features at a later date that would include a paid subscription to the service. This will most likely allow for more advanced options, as well as the ability for personal branding. However, the current release of Spark is impressive; you will certainly find many creative and unique ways to create visual content for your social and digital needs (free, remember!).
It’s nothing special, but I wanted to prove how super easy (and quick) working in Spark can be. I made the following video in no more than 2 minutes as a quick experiment the day it was released with the video builder on desktop.
Spark is built for all users, from beginners to experts, and will no doubt become a game-changer, especially as the platform and apps continue to advance with further functions and options.
It may not act as a replacement for Canva (yet?), but it is certainly a nice companion. It is like having a Mercedes-Benz sedan (aka Canva), but you need an SUV, too, yet you have the opportunity to have a BMW SUV (aka Spark) rather than a Subaru. (Gee, that must be nice, too, right?!).
One ‘big deal’ item already, though, is the Twitter post template. Spark uses the actual mobile image ratio, rather than the desktop ratio. This means that on any mobile device, your image created with Spark will not be cut off on the sides. More so, it doesn’t affect the way the image shows on desktop when it is expanded.
As you can see above, the image is scaled the same in the Twitter feed, as well as the enlarged version on the left.
Now, in this example, you can see the difference between the two. The image in the feed is slightly cropped on the sides.
So, do yourself a favor and check out Adobe Spark! Right now! This is extremely fresh news. The best way to learn more is to experiment yourself. Feel free to connect with the greater community of Spark users by posting your creations or searching for others on social media with the hashtag #SparkMade.
Images: Adobe Spark, Pablo
Simple Tips to Plan, Connect & Engage
The celebration of a new year has become synonymous with starting fresh and setting resolutions for ourselves, both personally and professionally. The key, of course, is sticking to our plan and following through with our new resolutions. We really don't want our new plans to become like the often used example of the "empty gyms" in mid-January! In other words, everyone has great intentions, and we might even get started with those plans, but after a few days or weeks, we often fall right back into our habits.
Well, don't let that happen with your music program's 2016 marketing plan! Advocating for your program through positive publicity is huge in today's educational climate. Not only do you want your students and parents being well informed, you also want to regularly share news with your school community.
I have singled out three super simple tips that you can apply now: PLAN, CONNECT and ENGAGE. Yes, they are words you have probably heard before; perhaps words you hear every day, but they provide a simple and practical guide to all of your digital marketing work.
Whether the marketing for your music program is handled by a team of teachers and parents or just you, below are a few general ideas for each tip to help build instant success:
1) PLAN - Plan your posts in advance! It is imperative to take the time to create a schedule for your content based upon what is going on with your program. Your posts on social media should complement your upcoming events and relevant news, acting as a reliable and instant source for event details and news reminders. By creating a posting calendar, you will be sure that you always have content to share - you want to remain current so that your audience knows your accounts are a dependable source for information - and that your content is relevant - sharing the information that your audience needs to know at that point in time. Scheduling platforms like Buffer and Hootsuite are great tools to help schedule content in advance. Depending on your needs, you may be able to get by with each platform’s free account.
2) CONNECT - Connect with similar people and programs in your field! One of the best aspects of social media is the ability for different people and groups to connect anywhere in the world at any time of the day. One way to grow your network, follow current trends and learn new information is to connect with people of similar interests or groups in the same field. Use your social accounts to build new relationships that will have the opportunity to enhance your programs, as well as the learning of you and your students. Take time every few days or on weekends to search for other music programs, teachers, composers and industry groups in which you will be able to follow. Use the search function on Facebook to find profiles, pages and tags and pay attention to the account suggestions on Twitter to help.
3) ENGAGE - Engage with your audience! It’s called social media because it’s a “social” experience. The most important metric that digital marketers seek is engagement - you want people to be engaging with your content by liking, commenting or sharing. Likewise, you also want to engage with your audience; it is important to show that your account is not just a machine spitting out posts. Social media is a two-way street; acknowledge your audience and interact with them. This is especially important when responding to important comments or direct messages. In your music programs, the easiest (and quickest) way for parents and students, alike, to connect may be through their social media accounts. Today's generation of parents are becoming more and more active on social media. Be a reliable source for them. If you have a social account and are spending the time to create/post content, then you certainly want people to take those accounts seriously. The easiest way to build credibility and reliability is to be engaging in a timely and courteous fashion.
Now, it doesn't end with those three tips - of course not, right? There is always “one more thing." Another important part of a successful marketing plan is your website. And, yes, you NEED to have a website. It is the nucleus of your online existence and the electronic space you want people to ultimately reach by means of your social media posts. On your website you will host anything from your calendar to blog posts to important documents. By having all of this important content on your website, you will easily be able to share it through social media posts. It is really difficult (practically near impossible) to link important information to your social posts without a website to host it. Now, it is 2016, so please make sure that your sites are responsible and mobile friendly. Google (yes, Google, the King of anything and everything online) likes responsive and mobile friendly sites! If you are in need of creating a site - and it certainly doesn't have to be anything elaborate, especially if you don't have a large program - there are three great tools to help you build a sites without being an expert. The three best platforms are WordPress, Weebly and Wix (they make for a great example of alliteration, too). Look for future posts about creating simple, yet effective sites for your music programs from the TWC Blog in the near future!
Best of luck with your 2016 marketing plan! As always, I am available to help YOU with whatever you need to help publicize and advocate for your music program. No matter what the task is - creating press materials for an upcoming concert or managing social media profiles - I am here as a guide and resource. Visit twcmarketing.org/arts-advocacy to see available services or contact me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org for customized services.
May you continue to find ways to promote the good news about your students and your programs in 2016!
Happy New Year,