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Facebook have completely changed the rules around Facebook competitions in the past couple of weeks. I have seen so many photographers pages continue to flout the rules and put themselves in danger of being unceremoniously shut down.

The great news is that Facebook have completely changed their promotion and competition guidelines, and the new rules have huge implications. The biggest being that pages can now continue doing what they’ve been doing, but it is now actually allowed. Well, most of it.  I’ve outlined the changes below, as well as the pros and cons of running a competition straight from your wall vs via an application.

The biggest and most important change is that you can now run competitions/promotions straight from your Timeline. Previously pages were only able to run competitions through applications, not directly on their page timeline (though many didn’t actually know this was the case). This has now changed, and along with it Facebook are allowing entries via Comments and Likes.

So what does all that mean?

You are now officially allowed to publish a post to your Page that says “Want to win €1000? Like this to enter.” Or post a photo and say ‘Caption this pic for your chance to win”. What has changed you may be thinking? It’s likely you saw loads of competitions similar to this in the past anyway.  And it’s highly likely that’s why Facebook changed the rules – pages simply weren’t adhering to their previous guidelines anyway. That being said, some pages continue to break the rules by posting competitions that require people to share things to their wall to enter the competition. To break it down for you, here’s an overview of what you now can and can’t do with Facebook competitions:

What you can do:

  • Run competitions through your Page wall/timeline (through a post) and/or via an application
  • Allow people to enter your competition via commenting or liking your post
  • Allow people to enter your competition via direct message to the Page
  • Allow people to enter your competition by posting on your wall
  • Use ‘likes’ as a voting mechanism – ie. people can vote for their favourite entry by simply liking it

What you still cannot do:

  • Administer a competition on a personal timeline, it must be done on a business page
  • Require or encourage people to tag themselves in content they are not depicted in
  • Require or encourage people to post or share anything to their personal timeline

These new rules mean that it is so much easier, particularly for small businesses with small social budgets, to run competitions through their Pages quickly and cheaply. But in some cases, it may still be preferable to use an application. Here’s a run-down of the pros to each method:

Why use an app to run your Facebook contest?

  • It allows a more personalized and branded experience
  • There is more flexibility in terms of content you can provide and interactivity
  • You can collect more data from entrants – eg. their email addresses, business names etc.
  • You can require the opting into a newsletter to expand your database
  • You can like-gate the competition – ie. Entrants must like your page to enter (thus better opportunity to grow your community)
  • You can easily keep all entries in one place for your community to share, like and vote on (ie. Gallery)
  • You can prompt entrants to share their entry with friends after they have entered, increasing viral exposure (and you have control over the message that is being shared)
  • Easier to collate all entries and entrants’ details in one place for judging*

 

Why use your business page to run your Facebook contest?

  • Faster and easier
  • Cheaper to run – no requirement to pay for third-party apps or pay a developer
  • Easier for entrants to enter, thus likely to gain more entries
  • Potential for greater viral exposure via post showing up in entrants’ newsfeeds who have liked/commented
  • No mobile compatibility issues

Of course, if you want to get the best of both worlds you can always use both an application and your wall to run your competition. If you want to check out Facebook’s new promotion guidelines in more detail, you can do so here.

Hope this helps!

 

Cormac

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A while back I posted an article on tethering your camera to an iPad wirelessly from Lee Morris of Fstoppers fame. Well here is another that might interest you from the same guys. It’s how you can wirelessly tether your iPad and use it as a second monitor in conjunction with a laptop or desktop for editing and other things.

 

 

And HERE is the link to buy the App.

Enjoy it and I hope it helps. If you find it useful perhaps you might leave a comment and tell us how you got on.

 

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Marketing Options

Whether it was putting an ad in a newspaper, recording a jingle for the radio or shooting a commercial for television, marketing campaigns used to require a lot of cash. While those methods still exist, the Internet has opened new avenues for businesses to market their products and services for free.

Here are seven ways to promote your business without spending a dime.

 

Facebook

As the most popular social networking site, Facebook gives businesses a free outlet to reach millions of potential new customers. Similarly to how individual Facebook users can create personal pages, businesses can set up their own dedicated page on Facebook to help grow their venture, build brand awareness and develop relationships with consumers. Besides providing all the business’ vitals – including name, location, phone number and Web address – the Facebook page gives businesses a forum to speak to their customers about company news, special promotions and new products. Many businesses also use their Facebook page to run contests and free giveaways as a way to attract new shoppers.

 

www.strikingimages.ie

Twitter

The popular micro-blogging site Twitter is also a way to reach new customers without the expense. Twitter offers businesses a platform for connecting their brand with things people care about. The social networking site bills itself as a canvas for telling engaging stories, broadcasting content, connecting directly with consumers and driving transactions. The site provides businesses with a unique opportunity to see what their customers are saying, ask them questions and respond to their concerns. Businesses can also use Twitter to run special deals and promotions.

 

Local Listing Services

For many consumers, the Internet is the first place they look when searching for a business. Since local search entries are often the first choices given in a search query, businesses can easily attract new customers and clients by simply making sure they are listed on the sites. The local search listings offer businesses an easy way to highlight their location, hours and contact information. The most popular local search listing sites are Google Places, Yahoo! Local and Microsoft Bing.

 

Press release websites

Getting a little free publicity from newspapers, radio and television stations and blogs is a great way to attract new business. One way to catch the eye of the local media is to send out releases touting new products or services, as well as company news and special promotions. In today’s digital age, many journalists search through press release websites for new and interesting story ideas. A number of websites, such as Free Press Release, PR Log, 24/7 Press Release and I-Newswire, offer the opportunity to post press releases on their site for free. In addition to exposure on the site, the releases are distributed to major search engines, making their reach even greater.

 

Online video

Few things create buzz for a business more than a great viral video. While not every video will become a huge hit, they do provide a more engaging way to get information to consumers. While a normal ad won’t do the trick, businesses can use creative videos to build new interest in their company. Examples include videos of company parties for those who were unable to attend, how-to videos for consumers looking for more information on using a product or service, and video confessionals of happy customers and clients. While posting videos on YouTube remains the most popular route, small businesses also can take advantage of other sites like Viddler, Vimeo, Dailymotion and Ustream.

 

Pinterest

While it is true of all social networking sites, using Pinterest successfully requires more than just cramming products and promotions down consumer’s throats. Pinterest gives users their online pin board, where they can “pin” up links and photos to things they like and are interested in. However, businesses only posting pics of their products on the site won’t find many new customers. In order to be successful on Pinterest, businesses must think about the type of content their customers would be interested in. Instead of just sharing images and links to existing product pages, blog posts and websites, businesses should share content that other users will love sharing. A bakery, for example, might use Pinterest to post cupcake recipes, frosting tips, party ideas and other topics for followers.

 

Instagram

Similarly to Pinterest, businesses using the photo-sharing site Instagram must be more creative than just posting picture of products if they want to win customers. It requires building a following of users that want to see their point of view, whether they’re selling something or not. When posting promotional photos, they must be creative. For example, restaurants might show photos of people eating their food, while fashion retailers can post pictures of customers wearing their clothes. The site can also be used to host fun contests that involve customers posting their own photos of them using a business’ product.

 

Hope it helps!

 

Cormac

 

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I had somebody ask me recently to give a course on the iPad (or the iPad Mini) in business. If you are not, you should be! Here are just some thoughts on what you could be doing.

What can you do with an overgrown iPod Touch? Can you really use it in your photography business? Here are a few things you could do with…

  • Use the iPad to carry around your virtual portfolio with thousands of prime examples of your work, rather than just dozens or hundreds.
  • When not using it actively, use the iPad in your studio as a digital photo frame to ‘sell ideas’ to clients as they wait for their appointment times: to display photos, videos, and presentations created using popular Mac and iPad photo, video, and presentation apps.
  • Do a photo shoot out in a remote location, and you can instantly upload and view photos full screen at nearly 8”x10” (1024×768 screen resolution) Zoom in, you can view a tiny portion of any image, such as checking everyone in a large group photo for blinking eyes. You’ll need an EyeFi card for this one though but you can pick one up for under €100.
  • Upload photos from camera (or memory card) with the Camera Connection kit and use the iPad to show clients the proofs.
  • Upload photos from iPad to directly to popular social media sites. If you have a 3G iPad, you can upload from anywhere you have mobile signal.
  • If you are already doing lots of digital offerings, be sure to offer an iPhoto/iPad album option to clients.
  • You will soon be able to use Paypal or similar payment system with iPhone or iPad to process credit/debit payments instantly.
  • Keep brochures, rate cards, invoices or whatever in the cloud  (via Evernote or Google Docs) and have instant access to them wherever you are.
  • The iPad is never going to replace a desktop computer for photo editing. However, it does come in handy when you are looking to quickly edit a few pictures. Once the pictures are on your iPad, there are lots of great apps you can use to edit your photos.
    • Filterstorm – This is probably my favorite photo editing app. It allows for more advanced editing like adding text, canvas size, editing the curves, redeye, and it even allows for layers.
    • PhotoFX – If you are looking to just add a quick effect (glamour, faded, film, etc.) to your picture, this is the app for you.
    • PS Express – Allows you to do basic editing like crop, contrast, sharpen, and add borders.

 

Potential problems with an iPad – here are just a few that spring to mind.

Unlike a photo album, drop an iPad just once onto a hard surface and the screen probably breaks.

Like any tech device, it doesn’t work when the battery is dead.

Could be a bit hard to view in direct sunlight.

Don’t expect to do lots of heavy-duty text entry and editing on an iPad unless you go with a wireless (bluetooth) keyboard. It is possible, but anything more than a quick email or one-page summary starts to get cumbersome switching between the 3 on-screen keyboards (letters, numbers, and punctuation).

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Wouldn’t it be great to be able to studio shoot and have clients look at those pictures regardless of where you are. No need for a Wi-Fi network. Just seamlessly being able to transfer your pictures from your camera directly to your iPad, in the hands of clients across the room, across the car park, in fact on any location. Seconds after you have click the shutter, the image appears in your iPad or even better, their iPad!

I had read about this idea recently but it did involve the ‘jail breaking’ of your iPad and that was something that I was not really keen on doing. Now though it can be done without the jailbreak.

What do you need? Well an iPad (obviously) and a camera with an SD slot. Then the final purchase is either a Pro Eye-Fi card or the cheaper version, the Connect X2 Card. which you can get from Amazon.

This video from the guys at Fstoppers takes you through the process.

Eye-Fi released an update to their iPad app which includes some pretty helpful updates.
New features:
– Landscape mode support in the gallery view
– “Add network” button to automatically add the Wi-Fi network to the iOS device even when the Direct Mode network is not broadcasting
– Directly transfer from iOS device to computer when they are on the same Wi-Fi network (requires the user to set the computer destination for the iOS device in Eye-Fi Center again to enable this feature)
– Email up to 5 photos through the native mail app

User Interface:
– Show icons for items pending transfer and actively transferring
– Icon in the tray to indicate when connected to a Direct Mode network
– Added Spanish and Italian languages
– Double tap to zoom into a photo (only on iPhone4 and iPads)
– Smoother transitions when swiping through photos
– Single tap to dismiss the navigation elements in single photo view
– Provide feedback when card is not paired to device on a Direct Mode network

Other:
– Stability improvements
– Turn off video transfers from the Eye-Fi Card to the iOS device if the video type is not supported by iOS
– Screenshots are now automatically uploaded

If you had a little extra money, you could buy the ShutterSnitch iPad app as it has many more professional features and the new version is extremely stable.

All of this information is from a great website that you probably already know about, Fstoppers.com. I’m sold and have the card on order.

So now if you don’t have an iPad, at least you can justify getting one!

Hope this post was useful.

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