natural curiosities: designer’s lunch

a look inside the art house

last week, natural curiosities hosted another of their design lunch series, where industry trade professionals are invited to take a spin through the studio, have lunch, get design inspiration, network and experience the creative space where the art pieces are developed.

fill your space with inspiration

natural curiosities is known for working with all types of specimens and media. the art is the end product of ongoing explorations with collected artifacts that adorn the studio and experimental processes.

see our work for natural curiosities.

aiga’s blueprint: freelance

i’m both honored and excited to be a panelist in aiga’s blueprint: freelance on march 28 at nextspace in culver city! we’ll be talking about running our business and share the realities of what it’s like to run your own show. this panel is full of great voices in the los angeles design scene, and best suited to designers or related creative professionals who have been curious about starting their own firms and want the scoop from a range of professionals spanning 5 to 20+ years in business.

if this is YOU, register TODAY!

in the meantime, i’ve talked about freelancey stuff before, and if you’re into that sort of thing:
freelancing 101, 102 and 103
creative freelancer blog’s interview with heather parlato on freelancing

hiatus over!

so yeah, i’ve been offline awhile. but i’m emerging from the media diet, undergoing a branding exercise and i’ll be back in many ways now that 2013 is underway, at places like creative mornings LA & stuff…!

dwell on design 2012

this past weekend, i took advantage of the designer’s pass to dwell on design to take in all the amazing products, interiors and fixtures exhibited there. i spent a lot of time in the outdoor section, looking at how far prefab housing has come. there were a few sample homes, like this one above, along some inflatable homes, beautiful airstreams and trailers like the cricket trailer and this rotating, hang-out thing, the g-pod.

with so many pretty things to look at, you can’t help but get ideas of what could be done in your own home. i mostly like my interior the way it is, but i definitely saw potential in accent pieces, like these beautiful organically-shaped lamps!

next time the show comes to town, designers take note: you can usually get a free pass by showing your credentials and filling out a quick survey. it’s a great chance to see what’s new in industrial design!

is your social media marketing working for you?

social media communities have been around long enough to have a first generation in their wake, so it would seem we’ve all had enough time to learn their ins & outs. while many of us have mastered the art of staying in touch, i’m seeing a common thread among clients and colleagues alike: many of them are spending more time creating content and cross-linking these communities to each other than whipping them into the marketing strategy they came for in the first place.

sharing content online is all kinds of fun, and a great way to raise awareness, but using it for marketing should always be part of a bigger plan to connect back to the content you create on your own site. if you’re spending all your time creating awareness on social networks without consistently linking back to your home base, you’re working for them—for free. that’s not what you got into business for! but hey, it’s okay — you can turn the tables anytime and start making them work for you.

best practice vs. a common example

marketing in the social media arena should be an all-roads-lead-to-rome strategy by the most direct route possible. think of it like a multiple funnel system, where each funnel is a social community designed around a unique aspect of how people like to communicate. creating awareness about your business or projects is as simple as participating in the communities that suit you best, and periodically saying “hey guys, i’m doing something cool, come take a look” with a link to the most relevant landing page on your site. participation and link strategy should look like this:

best practices for social media marketing link strategy

however, that’s not always the case. what i often see when i analyze a social media campaign in need of help is that some link strategies are sending users to 2 or 3 different communities to get piecemeal information, with links to the main site infrequent at best. the mistake here isn’t just that you never get eyeballs on your site, it’s can also be a turn-off to your audiences too. each of them have made a conscious choice about the community they prefer, and would be a lot more likely to check out your site than trek around to communities they don’t like. here’s what i generally find when social media marketing is a bit scattered:

example of a scattered social media marketing link strategy

lots of effort going everywhere but home

sites like facebook have so many tools to keep you busy creating content [for them] that it’s easy to spend all your time building photo albums and posting informative updates while forgetting to promote your own site. in their desire to compete, social networks provide apps for automatically updating other communities, which is really just traffic-poaching disguised as a convenience tool, giving you crappy-looking updates in the process. [ever seen a truncated facebook post & link on twitter? do your twitter followers even care about facebook anymore?] or sometimes, it’s just easier to think “but all my videos are on youtube, why not just send traffic there?” youtube subscribers may be a secondary benefit of hosting videos there, but the videos should be embedded and showcased on a relevant site page of your own.

don’t send your audience on a wild goose chase for your content. first thing’s first. put the time in on your own site or blog to make sure anything anyone would want to know about you or your business is easy to find. create the content you want to share there, around one main idea at a time, and then report on it in each social media community with a direct link back to your blog post, or relevant pages on your site.

put yourself first

the first place to generate content is on your own site. if you need to make regular announcements or have new and changing content you want to talk about and you don’t have a place on your site where you can do this, it’s time to get one [hint: i can help]. consider adding a blog where you can update revolving content. make your full announcement here first, with complete information and photos or videos, when applicable. this is what you’ll be linking to everywhere else.

the philosophy here is that you’re training people to learn that your site is where it’s at for any information they’d ever want to know about you. sure, they’ll catch your posts on twitter, facebook & tumblr, but after 3-5 times of clicking through to your site, they’ll make the connection that they can always find what they need on your site. and hey—people who don’t use ANY social media will be able to find it there too, imagine that!

choose your communities and let them know

write custom posts for each community, tailored to how each one showcases information best. i understand the temptation to save time by writing one great post in one place and let that service distribute it for you, but these distributed posts rarely look good elsewhere. often, they take your snappy teaser copy and truncate it to nonsense, replacing half of your sentence and any photo with a generic link [so they can advertise their great service to another sucker]. if you truly believe you don’t have time to write one sentence for each community you’re in, get honest about which ones are a priority. a half-sentence tweet that only links to facebook says loud and clear: “i don’t care about twitter.” keep your community members in mind, and write directly to them. “hey guys, i have something cool to show you, here’s why you might like it,” post your link, select the best photo preview if applicable, and send it off.

need an example?

i’ll walk the talk here for you. first, i wrote this article and posted it here on my blog. i usually write these articles as the main entrée to my newsletter, so i wrote and sent my newsletter. then i went to facebook and posted it on my business page. the same goes for linkedin, though they are tricky to link to, and google+. i created a shortened url so i’d have most of my 140 characters to tease it on twitter. if this were a creative inspiration post, i’d pin it to my pinterest board of the same name. i created my content and reached out to each community individually with a unique message to let them know about it, linking right back here. and at the bottom of this post, i let you know that you can get more useful info just like this in my irregularly-delivered newsletter.

but what about building community on each social network?

hey, there’s nothing wrong with adding to your photo albums and posting quickie updates without always linking to your site — AFTER you finish your self-promotion, that is. give your facebook fans photos to share, post instagram shots to twitter & tumblr, encourage conversations, share support information and press that links to other sites. blend these things in as you see fit, just make them secondary to your main objective…YOU!

have questions?

these are the basics, but there can be a few levels of social media engagement integrated into an overall marketing plan. my penchant for organizing these strategies is also a service i offer. if you need help figuring out how to implement a system like this or want to fold some existing efforts into an overall campaign, reach out and we’ll figure it out!

if you liked this article and want more like it, sign up for the parlato design studio newsletter for your monthly power shake of design, branding, marketing & promotion!

spreading the love for dayna stephens

sure, you’ve seen these before—but this year i’m adding a special twist to the otherwise-consumerist practice we call valentine’s day. see, instead of trying to make you buy a dozen roses or chocolates, i’m suggesting you use your much-more-meaningful heartfelt words to tell your friends, family, co-workers and all-around-favorite people how awesome they are on sustainably-printed, environmentally-friendly cards. and once i sell them all, instead of keeping the money, i’m sending it over to help dayna stephens in his efforts to raise awareness about testing as a kidney donor, and in support of his own operation and medical care. help me sell them all, and i’ll double your money with a matching donation of my own.

so, why would i do this besides the fact that dayna is a fantastic guy who needs a kidney? well, if you’re a freelancer or otherwise self-employed individual, you know that one of the biggest issues we face is affordable healthcare. with a pre-existing condition, dayna’s choices are limited, funding is not all-inclusive, and qualifications to get that funding are rather exacting. as a witness to the ongoing folley we call healthcare in this country, i find it outrageous that a sick person should accept the possibility of being a casualty to a system that could otherwise help him save for so many rules and tricks and hoops to jump through. so, he’s doing what he can, following the rules and jumping through the hoops, and what we’re doing is helping with the remaining balance.

so, what is $1200 really going to do for someone who needs a kidney? the amount i can raise personally is just a brick in the wall, but there are a few efforts rolling out through the jazz foundation that will help get dayna’s costs covered. stay tuned for more perks and special events that will go toward the efforts of helping dayna. in the meantime, by some valentines!

i like valentines, but i can’t think of how i’d use them. i get it dude, here is a list:

> give them to your kids to fill out and take to school
> pretend your job is as fun as school and fill them out for your co-workers
> write 16 separate compliments to your partner and stick each valentine on a notched chop-stik in a vase to make a compliment bouquet
> make a valentine’s promo of your own and use them as the notecards you send to your own clients
> write nice notes to your family or co-workers and hide them in drawers, cabinets, on shelves and in books
> use them as an opportunity to put a little hello in your neighbor’s mailboxes
> write nice notes to your family and construct a valentine mobile with sticks and string
> donate them to a school or after-school program for a fun kid activity
> write your future self compliments and words of encouragement and read them whenever you need to
> stick them on your mirrors so you can remind yourself that you rock and to stay awesome!

got it? time to get awesome!

event calendar: december 18 – 25, 2011

behance/aiga meetup, december 2011
behance/aiga meetup, december 2011

counting down to christmas, i’ve got a lot on my plate this week, but i’m definitely making time for the behance / aiga december meetup to see all my design buddies and exchange our lovely cards. come on down, it’s free!

friday fun

DMV: After Dark from machine project on Vimeo.

check out this nice video montage of machine project’s dmv after dark. i was there, but i’m not in the video.

event calendar: december 12 – 18, 2011

happy monday 12 12 11
last of the triple-threat bed hang

last week, i said my final goodbye to my cat ray, who is at the far right in this picture. he was a really sweet cat who unfortunately suffered kidney failure, though he outlived all the vets expectations. this scene, of cats crowding each other on the bed, was always funny to me whenever it did happen. each of them, too close for comfort, would claim a patch of space on top of me while i try to take some sort of picture of what’s happening. this was the last time it would happen, about 2 weeks ago. it’s only something that happens when there are 3 competing for space, somehow there’s always room for 2. here’s to remembering 16.5 years with a great cat.

looking forward, i’ve got the busiest holiday season i’ve had in years. somehow i manage to find people who are energetic and motivated not to sit still for even a minute, so the fun far outweighs the overwhelm. for that reason, i’ll only be heading out to one event this week: saul bass: a life in film and design, free at the hammer on tuesday.