It is no news saying the world is a global village; in fact it has become a global street. Connecting to families, friends and even strangers is just a click away. So let’s face it; social media has come to stay.

It is not unusual these days, almost everyone and every organisation has a presence on the social media, particularly the popular ones such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, Flickr, Reddit, Digg, Myspace, Youtube and Pinterest. As at March this year (2015), there were 1.415 billion active users on Facebook, and 288 million monthly active users on Twitter. With the explosive youth population in Nigeria, you can imagine what chunk of those statistics we boast as a nation. Everyone or everything is on social media.

However, most corporate presence and iconic presence (prominent individuals) on the social media are mere presence with no marked focus, strategy, or intent to engage the teeming online public/market. This is largely to due to not knowing what it takes to maintain a vibrant online-cum-social media presence. Being online 24/7 is not a guarantee of an effective online presence.

There are 4 basics to maintaining a successful online and social media presence. They are:

1. Contents: Content is the backbone of social media. Content is social media. What you feed a child goes a long way in determining how healthy the child will be. Unless you publish fresh, relevant information on a regular basis for your audience to consume, your online and social media platforms will not command traffic. Social media accounts that don’t churn out fresh contents are considered dead. Your account shouldn’t be an identical twin to another person’s account.

2. Engagement: The second nitty-gritty for running a successful online/social media campaign is audience engagement. Organisations and individuals who engage their online audience are generally seen as friendly and responsive plus many other positive perceptions, all of which translate into sales, patronage, goodwill, brand affiliation, loyalty and an army of brand ambassadors who will go to any length to promote/defend your name, brand, product, service or cause. Always remember, you are on social media because of your audience. Therefore, there’s every need to create a bond between you and your audience. Interacting with them on regular basis would erase the thought of “it’s just another static account.” Let them feel a face that cares, is behind the account.

3. Skills: There are necessary related skills required to drive a vibrant social media presence ranging from graphics, research, designs, backend management, analytics, optimization, monitoring, etc. Not knowing which to deploy, when and how to deploy it or utilising them wrongly is a sure road to virtual comatose or disaster. The need to get the right hand or learning the right skills and knowing when to apply them is non-negotiable. Knowing ‘what to do’, ‘how to do it’ and ‘when’ is key to an effective online presence.

4. Consistence: Having just the skills – Knowing what to do to have a winning social media presence and how to do it, does not guarantee success unless such knowledge is backed by painstaking efforts and commitment to doing it day in, day out. Lack of consistency accounts mostly for the online failure of multinationals, institutions and public figures, which have all it takes as well as the budget to be vibrant and visible online, but whose activities there are a whimper. It is more than just having the right skills and budgets; there is also the need for consistency – doing the same thing every day. It is the only way to improve and learn new things every day. Always remember, the social media is dynamic not static.

Source: TRWConsult

The biggest mistake is jumping into Photoshop too fast. Learning Photoshop does not make you a designer, just like buying paintbrushes doesn’t make you an artist. Start with the foundation.

First, learn how to draw.

  • You don’t have to sit in a room with a bunch of other artists trying to draw a naked woman.
  • You don’t even have to get that good at drawing. Just learn some basics so you can be comfortable sketching with a pen.
  • You only have to do one thing to learn how to draw: get the book You Can Draw in 30 days and practice for half an hour every day for a month.

Learn graphic design theory

  • Start with the book Picture This. It’s a story book of Little Red Riding hood, but will teach you the foundations of graphic design at the same time.
  • Learn about color, typography, and designing with a grid. If you can find a local class to teach the basics of graphic design, take it.
  • Go through a few of these tutorials every day.

Learn some basics in user experience
There are a lot of books about user experience. Start with these two quick reads that will get you in the right mindset:

Learn how to write

  • Don’t fill your mockups with placeholder text like Lorem Ipsum. Your job as a designer is not just to make pretty pictures — you must be a good communicator. Think through the entire experience, choosing every word carefully. Write for humans. Don’t write in the academic tone you used to make yourself sound smart in school papers.
  • Read Made to Stick. It will teach you how to suck in your readers.
  • Voice and Tone is a website full of great examples of how to talk to users.

Learn to kill your work

  • This is the hardest step in this whole guide.
  • Be prepared to kill everything you make. Be prepared to violently slaughter your precious design babies. The sooner you can embrace this, the better your work will become. When you realize your work isn’t good enough, kill it. Start again.
  • Get another pair of eyes. Ask for feedback on your work from people who care about design. Don’t know anyone? Make some designer friends — go to designer meetups and events.
  • Get the opinion of people who don’t care about design, too. Show your work to people who would be your users and ask them to try your website or app. Don’t be afraid to ask strangers — I once took advantage of a delayed flight by asking all the people in the airport terminal to try out an app I was designing. Most of them were bored and happy to help, and I got some great usability feedback.
  • Listen. Really listen. Don’t argue. If you ask someone for feedback, they’re doing you a favor by giving you their time and attention. Don’t repay the favor by arguing with them. Instead of arguing, thank them and ask questions. Decide later whether you want to incorporate their feedback.

Learn Logo Design

  • Learn how to make a logo that doesn’t suck: Logo Design Love
  • You’ll want to take it a step further than a logo though. Learn to create a consistent brand – from the website to the business cards. Check out this book, Designing Brand Identity.

Learn Mobile App Design

  • Start with this tutorial to get your feet wet on visual design for mobile apps.
  • Read this short but very comprehensive and well-thought out book on iPhone design: Tapworthy. It will teach you how to make an app that not only looks good but is easy to use.
  • Geek out on the apps on your phone. Critique them. What works and what doesn’t?

Learn Web Design

Now for the hairy question of whether you need to know HTML/CSS as a designer: It depends on the job. Knowing it will definitely give you an edge in the job market. Even if you don’t want to be a web developer, it helps to know some basics. That way you know what is possible and what isn’t.
There are so many great resources to learn HTML and CSS:

  • Free one is Web Design Tuts.
  • Paid one (pretty affordable at $25/month) is Treehouse. If you’re starting from the beginning and want someone to explain things clearly and comprehensively, splurge for Treehouse tutorials.

Credits: All referred links.

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