User Experience Rocks Is Officially 2 Years Old!

User Experience Rocks Turns 2. Stick figure holding balloons and a birthday cake.

User Experience Rocks is officially 2 years old, and I just wanted to take a moment to express my deepest thanks to each and every person who has taken the time to read my articles over the course of the past 2 years! I can’t even begin to express how much it has meant to me. You folks are the absolute best! ❤ Cheers to a fabulous 2015 to come!

Humanizing Your Brand: Step 1 – Give It A Face. (Literally)

So social media, when used properly, can give your brand a major boost in visibility. The key is to not sound like a robot retweeting machine. (And if your social media strategy is to USE a robot retweeting machine, then you’re doing it wrong.)

Step 1: Give your brand a face. 

I mean this literally, I’m not being esoteric. Slap a face on your stuff. It can be the face of your blogger, it can be the face of your social media manager, it can be a banner that contains photos of your team, just make sure you add some kind of graphic containing a human to your social media & web branding.

Excuse #1: That would be weird.

Well… you can NOT give your brand a face… and continue looking like an obscure, cold,  official organization.

Your human face can be low key, or it can be your team doing something ridiculous, or just a shot of your team smiling, or a super artsy picture of your whole crew looking like a 1920’s mobster group. (Our graphic designing creative team did that once. It was actually pretty epic.)

Just integrate a human somewhere. People will start connecting the photo of a happy person or people with your brand, and will subconsciously start feeling like your brand is friendly and safe.

Human brains are weird. We want things to make sense. Cognitive dissonance stresses us out. If we see happy smiling people on a website or social media account we mentally push for the brand to line up with the graphics. Boring cold graphics = zero emotional attachment. Happy warm fuzzy people = your brand is friendly and we think about interactions with you in a way that is consistent with the warm fuzziness.

Excuse #2: My organization is too professional to do that. 

Ok… so adding pictures of smiling employees or even stock photos of mildly happy strangers is too official for you? So basically you WANT to look stuffy and cold. That’s cool too, if you’re trying to reach an audience of stuffy cold people. Which.. some companies are. But seriously, even my BANK has pictures of happy smiling people on the log in page. Banks aren’t exactly places to throw parties. Loosen up and increase your marketing reach.

Excuse #3: But my logo is epic. 

It probably is. Lame logos don’t usually last very long. If you want to use your logo, you should definitely do it. Use it all over the place. Use it as your profile pic in your corporate social media branding if you want. Just make sure you humanize your page as well. Banners are a great place to make that happen if you can’t mix your logo into a humanized profile pic.

Step 2: Give your brand a clear voice. 

Voice is incredibly important when you’re dealing with branding. If you’re having trouble defining your voice, hire a content strategist. They’re pretty much voice defining rock stars.

Laid Back Voice

My blog has a laid back, tongue in cheek voice, because I’m the only writer (and can do whatever I want, including but not limited to drawing horrible stick figures), and therefore I write like I’m talking to folks in person.

I like to keep my posts short and sweet, because I have a short attention span. Get to the point, and do it fast, or I’m thinking about where I’m going to vacation next summer in the middle of your sentence. I try not to go off on 47 page rants because I would NEVER be able to get through one of those articles myself. I keep my voice light and personable, because I inject my own personality in my posts. This voice would not work for every audience, however.

Formal Voice

If your brand is more formal, you’re going to need to make sure your writers adopt a more formal voice. But make sure your formal force isn’t a horrifyingly boring voice. If it is, only a specific subset of the population is going to read your posts/tweets/website content. If people who enjoy boring content are your only target audience, do it up. If you’re trying to reach a broader audience, humanize your voice, but remain professional.

My company has a friendly, but professional voice. When I’m working on product copy, I definitely don’t use the same voice I use in my blog, because of our target audience.

Step 3: Respond to all of the social media interactions that customers throw your way.

The worst thing you can possibly do is have unmoderated Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest/Google+ accounts.

Handle Business

If you set those accounts up, you need to be all over them, responding to comments and tweets and posts and following people back constantly. Some brands hire a person or a team to handle their social media interactions. If you “don’t have enough bandwidth to do that” deactivate your social media accounts immediately. They’re going to harm your brand, not help it. Don’t delete them though, you may need them in the future and you don’t want to lose your brand handles & vanity URLs.

Voice = Key

Ensure that the person managing your social media is completely comfortable with your brand voice. If your voice is inconsistent in social media, you’re going to end up in cognitive dissonance land again, and you’ll stress out your audience.

Step 4: Tell your social media manager up front that if they EVER accidentally post a personal tweet through your branded account, that they’re fired. On the spot. Put that in their contract. 

There have been some absolutely horrifying accidental tweets and FB posts through branded accounts over the past few years that have caused enormous PR nightmares. This is the internet, you can’t delete something and make it magically disappear. Once it’s posted, it takes on a life of its own. Try as you might, you can’t make the general public un-see things.

To sum things up, humanizing your brand can make a huge difference in the way your audience views, interacts with, and feels about your brand. You can humanize your brand, and remain professional simultaneously; it’s not an either/or situation. And humanizing can have a very positive effect in increasing your brand reach. Give it a try! You won’t be sorry.

User Experience Rocks Is Live On Facebook!

So these are the things that I find incredibly exciting. My good friend and coworker Heather recently (and by recently I mean this morning) persuaded me to put a User Experience Rocks page up on Facebook so that when I post new articles, folks can see them immediately!

So if you were feeling all sad because you missed a few of my blog posts over the past few months, head on over and like User Experience Rocks on Facebook! I solemnly swear that I’ll post links to each new article I write on the official Facebook page too!

As an added bonus, when you like the page, I will instantly love you and send tons of happy warm fuzzy feelings your way! 🙂

Here’s the full link if you prefer to copy paste: http://www.facebook.com/uxrocks

As always, thank you so so much for your continued support! I’m having an absolute blast putting these articles together, and I really appreciate all of the love the community has been sending my way! You folks are the best!

Blogging: Overcome Your Fears and Share Helpful Tips with Your Peers

I just read an awesome article by Mike Perham, Blogging and the Paralysis of Choice, and a comment left by one of his readers got me thinking. The reader mentioned feeling under qualified about his interests, and feeling fear about sharing his thoughts through a blog because of it.

You Can Do This

It took me YEARS to overcome this precise fear. It took a large amount of prodding from friends and coworkers and an impending speaking engagement to finally push me over the edge.

View Your Blog as a Laid Back Place to Share Tips with Friends and Peers 

Once I’d made the decision to go for it, I decided that I would use my blog as a medium to share tips, tricks and tools with the rest of the UX and Design community. Once I’d decided that my blog would just be used as a method to share thoughts and helpful hints with my peers, all of the pressure to write incredibly enormous, wordy articles about fantastically interesting, previously undiscovered, earth shattering topics, was gone.

Zero Pressure = Extreme Fun!

And you know what? I’m having an absolute blast. I LOVE blogging! And the support I’ve received over the past 4 months from my UX and Design communities has been truly amazing. I’m incredibly grateful to every person who has taken the time to read my thoughts, and I sincerely hope that at least one of my posts will help make someone’s life a little easier in the future! If I can save one person from hours of Googling by sharing tips on my blog, all the time I’ve spent writing will be well worth it.

Write About What You Know

So to all of you out there thinking you are under qualified, remember that every person on earth is under qualified at most things. We all have our favorite topics, and we have topics we have zero interest in at all. So don’t worry about what you don’t know, just write about what you do know.

Just Do It

Fire up a blog, and write about things that are helpful to you in your daily life. There’s a good chance that there is someone out there franticly Googling up a storm looking for exactly what you have to offer.

WordPress is Free!

And just to get you going, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. WordPress is an absolutely fantastic blogging system and it’s even free! So what are you waiting for? Get started! 🙂