Food Styling: 5 Simple Tips to Make Your Photos Pop

Food Styling: 5 Simple Tips to Make Your Photos Pop

Conjuring up the right words to describe the delicious aroma of a decadent dessert or the stunning visual artistry of an entree often proves tricky. As the old adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words and modern consumers are eager to share their indulgences with the world via social media. Many social media users share these photos with the cheeky hashtag, #FoodPorn.

Whether you’re a restauranteur courting would-be diners or an entrepreneur blogger showcasing your latest creation, mastering the art of the simple food shot is vitally important. Use the following simple tools to take photos your followers will be thrilled to share with the world.

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Find the Light

It doesn’t take an artistic genius to know bright fluorescent lighting rarely makes for a great photos. On the flip side, you’ll also want to avoid taking pictures of your food in a dimly-lit restaurant. Instead, try to flood your frame with natural light, which highlights the dish’s appearance without washing it out. If your photo looks washed out, try to adjust your white balance to correct the color.

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Keep Distractions to a Minimum

Your food should be the star of the show, which is why it’s always preferable to eschew patterned dishware and busy backgrounds in your photos. Keep overall photo composition clearly in mind—remember, social media users will likely see a small thumbnail of your picture. If you crowd the shot with too many items, your picture will fall flat.

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Bring Your Audience to the Kitchen

While it’s only natural to focus on your finished product, social media users love to take a trip behind the scenes from time to time. Why not amp up the value of your photos by including pictures of the actual cooking process? Bowls of batter, boiling vats of oil, and ingredients in their raw form can all look contribute to a great feature piece on a particular food item.

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Play with Angles and Bites

Don’t position your camera directly over your dish, take a snap, and call it a day. Try some different angles to add interest to your photos and discover which perspective best highlights your dish. You might also want to interact with the food, using a fork to stab a bite or photographing a piece of cake in hand. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and try to transport them through the image itself.

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Forget Hot Out of the Oven

Advertisers have long used visual tricks to make food photos more appealing. Mashed potatoes stand in perfectly for ice cream, and Elmer’s glue looks more appealing than mayonnaise. You might not want to dabble with non-edible ingredients, but at the very least, experiment with photographing your food at different temperatures and add various components at different stages of the photography process.

Tweet This: How to Maximize Your Social Media Impact with Status Scheduling

Tweet This: How to Maximize Your Social Media Impact with Status Scheduling

When it comes to building a dedicated following on social media platforms, most people fall into one of two camps: you either can’t get enough, or it feels like a massive chore. Whether you’re wasting too much time on Twitter and Facebook, or you can’t bring yourself to craft a single update, scheduling your statuses in advance can have a powerful effect on your overall social strategy.

Think you’re ready for the challenge? Use the following keys to maximize your social media impact and save time, too.

What is Status Scheduling?

Most casual social media users write statuses on a whim, uploading this information through the sites of their favorite social platforms. Heavy users and marketers instead rely on tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck.

These tools allow you to simultaneously update multiple accounts, shorten links, and schedule your statuses far in advance. It’s also worth noting that Twitter now allows business users to schedule tweets in advance through Twitter for Business.

A scheduled status looks just like a normal status, except it’s uploaded into the system in advance of its eventual publication. If you’re trying to keep your feed continually updated, you can schedule statuses to appear like clockwork every few hours or days, based on your unique social strategy.

Why to Schedule in Advance

Scheduling your regular updates in advance can help you save time and keep your social media accounts fresh. If you routinely go weeks without updating your social profiles, scheduling large blocks of updates several days in advance can help you stay on top of your strategy. Simply set your statuses to publish and forget about it.

Dos and Don’ts to Follow

Think you’re ready to start automating your updates? Before you jump in feet first, keep the following keys in mind:

● Do: Focus on evergreen content. Don’t write time-sensitive updates that won’t be relevant when they appear days later.
● Don’t: Automatically tweet to people who mention your brand. This feels inauthentic and spammy.
● Do: Smatter your relevant updates between scheduled statuses to keep your feed spontaneous.
● Don’t: Overlook the performance of your statuses. If you’re using a tool like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, it’s easy to review how many people are clicking your links, favoriting your updates, and sharing your content with others.
● Do: Carefully consider when your statuses should appear. It’s smart to target users when they’re likely active on social media. Before work, lunchtime, and in the early evening are all great options.

Scheduling tweets and updates far in advance has some great applications. Use it to stick to a tight editorial calendar or schedule a bunch of statuses to update while you’re disconnected on a long vacation. Whatever you do, don’t allow automation to make you lazy. Continue to invest your best efforts into your social strategy and you’re bound to see results.

Plenty of brands successfully use automation to simplify their social media activities. While it may appear intimidating at first glance, learning to schedule updates is quite simple. If automation fits within your social strategy, pay attention to your social performance and continue making tweaks to ensure you’re getting the most out of your social media presence. Happy tweeting!

Your Newsletter, Revamped: How to Supercharge Your Reader Engagement

Your Newsletter, Revamped: How to Supercharge Your Reader Engagement

Collecting email addresses from your loyal customers allows you to target these readers with your customized marketing message, but many newsletters fall flat. If you’re tired of putting in all the effort and seeing no results, perhaps it’s time to rethink your newsletter strategy. Using a few simple tips, you can drive engagement, gain more subscribers, and ultimately, boost your bottom line. Ready to get started? Read on for a simple look at how to maximize the potential of your business newsletter.

Keep Your Content Digestible

Email users checking their inbox aren’t looking for a novel to read. Instead of bombarding your subscribers with too much information, provide small chunks of relevant text that can easily be consumed on the go. If you’re using your newsletter to highlight recent blog posts, include a few lines of your article as a teaser, and direct your readers to your site to read more. If you instead choose to write content specifically for the newsletter, use short sentences, plenty of headlines, and small lists to keep your reader’s attention.

Clearly Define a Call to Action

Plenty of business owners send out newsletters because they think it’s what you’re “supposed” to do. Don’t invest your energy creating a newsletter, only for your time to be wasted. Create a clear call to action to drive interaction with your brand. “Schedule a Dining Reservation Now” or “Check Out our Latest Dishes on YouTube” could be possible CTAs you might want to test.

Share Special Discounts and Offers

Everybody loves special savings, which is why many successful marketers use newsletters to share coupons and sales with their readers. Entice potential subscribers with the promise of free stuff, and deliver on that promise in your emails. Loyal followers enjoy feeling like they have “members only” access to your brand, and the promise of discounts and savings can help ensure your emails don’t head straight to the trash.

Include Timely Information

Many web writers strive to create evergreen content, meaning posts that will remain interesting from years to come. Your newsletter should do just the opposite! If you’re telling your audience to keep up with the latest by signing up for your emails, you should indeed be providing the latest, rather than simply rehashing tired topics.

Don’t Forget the Visuals

Newsletters should feature more than text alone. Use professional photography to immediately pull in your subscribers. You can also pepper your newsletter with colorful advertisements, vibrant social media posts, and enticing video content.

Newsletters can make an impressive impact, encouraging your most devoted followers to patronize your business and spread the word. By taking the time to carefully outline goals for your marketing materials and optimizing your emails with great content, you will help ensure your newsletter makes a powerful punch. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas.

Headline Power: 5 Tips for Sharing Your Message Effectively

Headline Power: 5 Tips for Sharing Your Message Effectively

Have you ever clicked on an interesting article, only to feel overwhelmed by the amount of text on the page? When writing for the web, you want to provide your readers with bite-sized chunks of digestible information, rather than confusing them with long-winded prose. Headlines should play an important role in your page structure, guiding your readers and keeping their attention. Feel stuck? Use the following five tips for creating effective headlines.

1. Tell a Story through Your Headlines
Web users rarely jump give a blog post their full attention. Instead, they’ll scan the page searching for relevant information. Your headlines should guide these readers through the content and serve as a storytelling tool. Summarize your paragraphs succinctly and progress through your post in a linear fashion to help readers find the information they’re seeking as quickly as possible.

2. Use Keywords When Possible
Like it or not, SEO plays a role in how effectively your blog posts reach a large audience. Search bots index your pages regularly, using headlines to determine what subject matter you’re covering. Place your top keywords within your headlines to boost your page rank.

Keywords also help your reader understand what you’re trying to communicate. If you notice your bounce rates are particularly high, poorly-optimized headlines likely shoulder some of the blame. Use keywords to clarify your message and keep your reader on the page.

3. Brainstorm, Brainstorm, Brainstorm
For many web writers, headlines are nothing more than an afterthought. Instead of focusing exclusively on the body of your post, however, take the time to carefully brainstorm headline ideas. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you may even wish to A/B test headlines on your pages to see which text converts better.

4. Address Readers Directly
Treat your content as if you were engaging in a conversation with a potential customer. How would you highlight the benefits of your services or product line? Now, use your headlines as the opportunity to succinctly pitch your business.

Many successful bloggers use headlines to attack pain points for their readers. For example, “Are You Tired of Dining in Ho-Hum Chain Restaurants?” might be a great headline for a local bistro. This headline directly asks a question to the reader, explains what the content covers, and references a pain point many diners feel.

5. Keep Your Headlines Simple
Remember, your headlines should summarize the main ideas of your post, not compete for space. Try to limit your headlines to about 70 characters. Use vivid word imagery to interest your reader, but don’t cram too many vocabulary words into your headline.

Do you remember the “five Ws” from English class? Your headlines should answer these questions for readers: who, what, when, where, and why. Writing witty headlines isn’t necessarily wrong, but don’t get so caught up in the process that you lose track of the main idea.

Generating Buzz Online: 5 Tips to Get People Talking

Capturing the attention of the masses is no simple feat. Instead of investing in traditional advertising and real world marketing initiatives, many small businesses turn to the web to generate sales. Online marketing and promotional efforts often prove less expensive than traditional advertising campaigns, but it’s not easy to create a viral hit. If you’re eager to get people talking about your product and brand, try using the following five tips to get started.

Give Something Away

Giveaways and promotional contents have long been a staple of the marketing world, for one simple reason: they work. Consumers like free stuff! Introducing a new house special or creating a limited edition beverage to celebrate the season? Talk about it on your social accounts and ask people to enter the contest.

Maximize the impact of your giveaway by thinking outside the box. Many brands ask consumers to retweet or share a contest announcement on Facebook to earn an additional entry. If you’re giving away something of significant value, ask users to submit their own content and solicit votes from the online crowd. In an effort to earn more votes, users will likely share your content aggressively.

Partner with Other Small Businesses

Small businesses are often plagued with limited marketing budgets, which makes it challenging to reach a large audience online. If you haven’t already done so, partner with another small business in your area to create a promotional offer or a special event. For example, why not offer a meal for two in your restaurant and partner with a boutique hotel to create a “romantic couple’s retreat?” If you’re a brewery or winery, make your products available through a local restaurant as part of a limited time “pairing menu.” The possibilities are endless.

Not only does partnering with other businesses make your events and promotions more interesting, but if both businesses promote the event online, you’ll reach a far wider audience.

Engage with Loyal Customers

Word-of-mouth advertising is worth its weight in gold. Consumers don’t like to listen to a brand endlessly extolling the virtues of its products, but they love recommendations from friends. When customers talk positively about you online, reward them! Direct message them and give them a promotional coupon, send them a t-shirt in the mail, offer them a free meal next time they stop by. Engaging in a positive way will encourage your customers to talk, talk, talk about your brand.

Pitch Prominent Bloggers

Building an online audience takes time, which is why it’s often useful to work with established blogs and websites who can share your brand with their existing fanbase. Work to identify some influencers in your industry and contact them with a great article idea. If you find a well-respected reviewer, consider sending them a case of your product for an unbiased review. There are plenty of ways to explore building a mutually-beneficial relationship with these movers and shakers.

Support Charitable Causes

Do you know why so many businesses support charities? It’s not simply because they’re benevolent—it’s also good for business. Whenever possible, sponsor local groups and events. When the marketing materials are published online, your logo will be distributed to the masses, in turn generating interest in your brand.