Do you need fresh, engaging visual content for your website, blog, or social media campaigns? The Internet - particularly social media - loves visuals, but buying stock images from companies like Getty Images, Shutterstock, and Fotolia can run into big money fast. If you want to avoid pirating copyrighted material or otherwise misusing online images (whether by design or mistake), here's a collection of more than 65 sites featuring public domain images you're legitimately allowed to use - at no cost. These sources feature images that are free to use for commercial use; have no copyright restrictions; are royalty-free; and require no attribution.
A professor at the University of Buffalo's Department of Media Study has published an analysis of the 2013 Hack Crash. On April 23, 2013, a tweet was sent by malicious hackers through an Associated Press (AP) Twitter account saying that two explosions at the White House had injured President Obama. The false message, since it came from a trusted source, was taken to be real by news outlets and was retweeted more than 4,000 times within 5 minutes. Financial markets reacted quickly, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 143.5 points within seconds. According to the analysis, it's reasonable to assume that the mini-crash was caused by algorithms widely used by traders that incorporate information from social media sources - especially trusted ones, like the AP, which carry more weight in those algorithms than many other sources. Rigorous study of social media is still new. Major unexpected events like the Hack Crash make it clear that we need to understand how it is connected to our social and economic infrastructure, as well as to our businesses. (It's all connected.)
Twitter recently made it possible for users to allow direct messages (DMs) from anyone on Twitter. In the past, only users you followed could send you DMs. "If you want to provide the best possible customer service on social, consider enabling this feature. With it turned on, any fan, follower or curious customer can send you a direct message without you following him or her first. This streamlines communication with customers and empowers users who want to reach you directly," writes Tom VanBuren on Social Media Examiner. This change opens the door to some interesting new uses for customer service on Twitter. Two examples:
A note of caution: Don't get carried away with direct messages. If you start sending too many unsolicited messages, you might provoke users to block your account, which would mean they not only won't see any of your tweets, but worse, you won't be able to see theirs. Also, unhappy recipients of your DMs could flag your messages as spam, which can lead to sanctions from Twitter.
Design is important everywhere today. Franchises need designers for websites, printed material, email marketing, and more. But finding and hiring great designers (even good ones) isn't easy. Thousands of so-called design professionals are out there, but finding the ones you can work with effectively takes discernment and commitment. Joshua Porter, co-founder of the product design/development shop Rocket Insights, has posted a blog about what worked for him during his 3 years as the hiring manager for product designers and UX specialists at HubSpot. Some strategies and tactics that worked for him include: building relationships with designers, understanding how the profession operates, what motivates practitioners, and being able to communicate your needs clearly, efficiently, and punctually. One great tip: Ignore education, degrees, and job titles and focus on designers' portfolios. Concentrate on the quality of the work they have done, and see how it fits with your specific design requirements.
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