Facebook to Roll Out 'Similar' EU Privacy Options to All Users

Facebook announced today that it will be sending all users a News Feed alert asking them to review their data and privacy options. 

The alert, says Facebook, is “similar” to the one received by users in the European Union (EU), as required by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force this Friday.

But now, Facebook users worldwide will receive an alert in their News Feeds — an “interruption,” as Facebook lightly calls it — asking them to review privacy and data controls pertaining to ads, facial recognition, and what they’ve shared on their profiles.

There’s a key difference between the alert for EU users and those located elsewhere, however: For non-EU users, reviewing these settings is optional.

As for these looming alerts, Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan says users will receive “a customized message that puts [such] information in front of them,” such as how the company uses “data from partners” to create more personalized ads.

The message will also remind users what kind of political, religious, and relationship information they’ve elected to share on their profiles. Additionally, it will offer information on how Facebook uses face recognition — which the company claims is sometimes used to enhance privacy.

During a session with members of European Parliament (MEPs) earlier this week, Mark Zuckerberg was challenged to answer questions about Facebook’s GDPR compliance — and whether it would extend the same data privacy protections to non-EU users.

Zuckerberg has previously given mixed responses to the question of implementing GDPR-like protections on a global scale during interviews and during his U.S. congressional testimony in April. His responses ranged from agreeing with it “in spirit” to subsequently remarking, “if we are planning on running the controls for GDPR across the world … my answer [is] yes.”

This latest development is seemingly part of the recent campaign Facebook has undertaken — since March revelations that personal user data was improperly obtained and misused by voter profiling firm Cambridge Analytica — to convince users that it’s putting them back in control of their own data, and that Facebook takes their privacy seriously.

In April, for instance, the company announced it would be updating its terms of service and data policy to make it easier to understand, which Egan says will also be included in these alerts displayed to users.

“Reading through the fine print in the video, there are actually very surprises in there,” says Henry Franco, HubSpot’s social media editor. “But this update isn’t going to change the opinion of anyone who’s already made up his or her mind” — like those who have opted to delete or leave Facebook altogether, for instance.

“I think Facebook’s doing a great thing by trying to be more transparent,” he continues. “But the number one priority for the company is clearly to show lawmakers it’s capable of self-regulating.”


Source: New feed

Every Business Has an Origin Story: A Lesson in Branding

“We’ve lost our way.�

I’ve heard this from clients countless times. And it’s no wonder people are saying this: today’s businesses have to evolve very quickly because employees rarely stay in one job for their whole careers and technology is growing so fast that it’s a constant battle to keep up with the next new thing. The stress can be overwhelming. I went through it myself at a time before Sub Rosa was what it is today.

Often the best way we inspire our clients for the future is when we connect them to the most indigenous part of themselves, to understanding why they were founded and why they are still here.

We help them reconnect by exploring their:

• Origin story: How it all began.

• Language: Your shared lexicon.

• Traditions: How you engage your community and acknowledge milestones.

• Purpose: Your reason for being.

Think about it: these are the building blocks of every thriving community. Whether in a tribe, a religion, or a corporation, these four building blocks are what provide meaning and create the connective tissue that forms a lasting foundation from which to grow.

A Tradition In Denim

At a meeting with a Levi’s executive, he told us that the company had missed a major opportunity by not participating in the “premium denim boom,� and it was now suffering both reputational and financial challenges. The “premium denim boom� had occurred when a number of high-fashion brands entered the market and began selling $200-plus pairs of jeans. During that time, Levi’s had maintained its traditional price point of around $39, and as a result, its jeans had acquired a low-end reputation and were considered less chic and no longer fashionable. The company was experiencing a significant sales slump.

We had been involved in a similar conversation not too long before with Absolut Vodka, whose management felt the company had missed out on the “premium vodka boom.� Apparently this premium boom was a phenomenon in a number of sectors. In the 1980s, Absolut was a top-shelf vodka. But in the 1990s, competitive vodka brands such as Grey Goose and Ketel One came onto the market with a more premium-priced product.

Absolut, like Levi’s, had stuck to its price point and dropped to a midtier status, losing market share to the new entrants. Ultimately Absolut found a way out of this by creating its own specialty, limited-edition lines, such as Absolut Brooklyn, created in partnership with Spike Lee, and premium-crafted versions such as Absolut Elyx, which was sourced and distilled in a manner designed to compete with other premium vodkas.

Levi’s needed a strategy to help it overcome a similar challenge. They had hired Wieden + Kennedy, a wellknown and successful advertising agency, to help rejuvenate the brand. Their campaign, which would later be known as “Go forth,� was being shot by a famous fashion photographer, and it would draw on inspirational imagery and language from well-known American authors such as Walt Whitman and Jack Kerouac. It would depict a new era of American nostalgia, and it was sure to capture attention. Levi’s wanted our help in turning that attention into action.

Our job was to make sure that once they had people’s attention, there would be have something to act upon and a real reason to care about the brand. This is the sort of integrated, complex challenge we love to solve, and we first began by focusing on the brand as we knew it. The company made denim and sold jeans (primarily) at a modest price point. They had once been the jeans of Marlon Brando and Steve McQueen and later the jeans of rock stars from the Rolling Stones to the Ramones. But somehow the company had lost its grip. We asked what had come before Brando and Jagger? Levi’s had begun making jeans in 1853. What had the company stood for then, and what was its origin story?

It’s fairly common knowledge that Levi Strauss & Company started out as a brand of pioneers. The men who had set out for the gold hiding in the uncharted lands of California during the famous Gold Rush of 1849 were known as the 49ers, and they had taken a big gamble, often risking life or death, to try to strike it rich. Those tough men needed tough jeans, and that’s what Levi Strauss produced. They had reinforced stitches and held up during hard work.

Over the coming decades, Levi’s rugged jeans continued to be a staple of the hardscrabble masses. Factory workers, laborers, farmers, and all manner of builders and fixers wore Levi’s as they headed out to work. They were the jeans that helped build America. We had to tell the story in a way that would ignite a newfound interest in the hearts and minds of new consumers and (hopefully) would bring back some customers the brand had lost along the way.

Panning for Gold

We asked ourselves, “Who are our modern-day pioneers?� After all, we’re not settling the West anymore, and many hard-labor jobs have since been shipped overseas. We wanted to find people who were embodying that spirit of progress and hard work and pull them into a new conversation, one that celebrated their sense of craft, of making things, of the integrity that comes from doing that kind of work well.

After a few weeks of development, we had created a program we called Levi’s Workshops and sent it off to Erik and his team. We admitted that what we were giving them was “only 75 percent of the plan.� The rest would have to be left open to serendipity. We knew we were going into the unknown, like the gold panners of the nineteenth century, and similarly we knew something about what we’d find but not everything. Like any good prospector, we knew to leave room for the unexpected. After all, you never know where you might strike it rich.

Together, our two teams became one unit. It didn’t take long for us to develop a working and speaking lingo, a kind of shorthand. When we said “pioneer,� we weren’t thinking of a grizzled old prospector chewing tobacco and swilling whiskey, we were imagining today’s artists, craftspeople, designers, teachers, and builders. When we said, “Go forth,� we knew we were looking for the spirit of adventure and discovery we wanted people to feel when they interacted with the brand. This shared language was built upon the origins of the brand, yet it was contemporized and translated for today. It drew our own teams closer together and became contagious throughout Levi’s organization.

Within months we were ready to open our first Levi’s Workshop in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District, which was chosen because the neighborhood was thriving with diversity and craft. It felt like a pioneer town for new ideas.

The programming was built on collaborations with “pioneers� from the Bay Area. Right down the street from us, the writer Dave Eggers had opened his first whimsical tutoring location (themed as a pirate shop), where volunteers taught kids the value of creative writing. We partnered with them and paired the kids’ writing with artists who created original artwork for their stories. The kids got to watch the books being printed in the shop, and they were dazzled as they flipped through a book that had come to life from their story.

We brought in Alice Waters, a pioneer of California cuisine, and designed a beautiful letterpress harvest calendar that supported the work of her charity, the Edible Schoolyard Project. She hosted a small dinner in the space and signed copies for us to sell at auction, with the proceeds benefiting her cause as well as the Levi Strauss Foundation, the company’s charitable organization.

Not only did each project bring into the workshop a compelling pioneer to help create programming, but every piece of programming was designed to reach different subcultures and niche audiences in the Bay Area with authenticity.

These new traditions we were creating for the brand were building on Levi’s legacy of engaging with powerful subcultures. From gold-panning pioneers to punks on the Bowery, Levi’s has always been the uniform of the brave and status quo challenging. We built programming for the literary community, musicians, foodies, inner-city youths, and more. If you were willing to “Go forth� and try something different, we wanted you to know that Levi’s was with you.

Our work with Levi’s showed us the value of looking back to a brand’s indigenous roots and bringing thoughtful inspiration and wisdom into the present. Admittedly not every company has a brand that is more than a hundred years old, but every business does have an origin story.

Excerpted from Applied Empathy by Michael Ventura. Copyright © 2018 by Seed Communications, LLC d/b/a Sub Rosa. Excerpted with permission by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

You can purchase Applied Empathy on Amazon.


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Unriddled: Net Neutrality's Second Chance, Facebook's Dubious Breakup, and More Tech News You Need

Welcome one, welcome all, to your unofficial midweek marker: HubSpot’s Wednesday weekly tech news roundup.

Traditionally, things start to “slow down” in May. People graduate, vacations are looming, and summer beings to peek around the corner.

But it seems that within the world of tech, things aren’t showing any sign of slowing down.

And with all those pre-summer activities taking place, how can anyone be expected to keep up with all the news? Well, that’s what “Unriddled” is for: a quick rundown of each news item that grabbed our attention over the past week.

So, without further ado: Let’s break it all down. Here’s our Wednesday tech news roundup.

Unriddled: The Tech News You Need

1. Senate Passes Resolution to Overturn Net Neutrality Repeal

Last Wednesday, the U.S. Senate voted to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s December repeal of net neutrality. The move came in the form of Senate approving a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would reverse the FCC’s decision to disband regulations of internet service providers. But it still needs to be approved by the House of Representatives — and signed into law by the president. Read more about the CRA and what would happen if it makes it through the House from Ars Technica‘s Jon Brodkin. Read full story >>

2. “Freedom From Facebook”

A group of not-for-profit organizations have launched the “Freedom From Facebook” campaign: an estimated six-figure digital ad campaign targeted toward the Federal Trade Commission with one message: Break up Facebook’s social media conglomeration. The campaign’s mission appears to be convincing the FTC to force Facebook’s portfolio companies — Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger — into separate, independently-operating companies. The hope is that it would allow, among other things, more balanced competition within social networking. Read more about the campaign from Axios‘s David McCabe. Read full story >>

3. Instagram Unveils Option to Mute Accounts

Instagram has finally released new tools that allow users to mute content from accounts they’re following — without unfollowing them altogether. Need a break from animal-adoption sob stories, for instance? With this new feature, users can hide posts in their feeds from said accounts, but continue following them and manually see posts on their profiles. Once an account is muted, users can unmute it at any time. The new feature arrives on the heels of news from TechCrunch that Instagram recently implemented a “you’re all caught up” feature to let users know when they’ve seen all new posts from the past 48 hours. Read Instagram’s full statement on the new mute option >>

4. Amazon Is Marketing Facial Recognition Technology to Law Enforcement

Amazon has developed facial recognition technology called “Rekognition,” according to documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and has partnered with governments and agencies to deploy it. That, says the ACLU, could potentially violate of civil liberties and civil rights. Using artificial intelligence, the technology “can identify, track, and analyze people in real time and … quickly scan information it collects against databases featuring tens of millions of faces.” That’s according to Amazon’s own promotional messaging of Rekognitio — which the Associated Press discouraged Amazon from selling to law enforcement in an op-ed. Read the ACLU’s full story >>

5. Mark Zuckerberg (Kind Of) Testifies Before European Parliament

Members of European Parliament yesterday challenged Mark Zuckerberg with noticeably tougher questions than U.S. lawmakers did at his congressional hearings last month — but an unfortunate meeting format left most of them unanswered. Read HubSpot’s full story >>

That’s all for today. Until next week, feel free to weigh in on Twitter with your tech news questions or thoughts on what kind of events and topics you’d like covered here.


Source: New feed

A Comprehensive Guide to Kerning in Typography

I’m willing to bet you already know what kerning is — you just don’t realize it.

While you might not recognize when kerning is done well, you certainly see it when it’s done poorly.

Here’s an example of bad kerning: M a rk e t i ng .Download 195+ visual marketing design templates to use for social media posts,  infographics, and more. 

Kerning is adjusting the space between letters, and either increasing or decreasing the distance to ensure better readability or appearance.

Interestingly, it’s not always best to have equal spacing between each letter. Each letter has different shapes and curves, so sometimes kerning actually helps the letters look less conspicuous. For instance, a “cl� can sometimes appear to be a “d�, so you might use kerning to space them further apart.

No matter what your job title, it’s important to understand the power of kerning. Kerning can help you create better designs, produce more visually appealing copy, or construct better presentations. Kerning is one of those actions that can push your deliverables from ordinary to exceptional.

If you don’t know how kerning works, don’t worry. Here, we’ll show you how to use kerning in Photoshop, Word, and Illustrator. Plus, we’ll provide examples of bad kerning, so you know what to avoid when using kerning for your own text.

Kerning in Photoshop

Kerning in Photoshop is incredibly easy, once you figure out where the “Kerning� tool is. If you’re designing a presentation or email template in Photoshop, and your words look a little sloppy, this is an easy way to clean up your text to improve the appearance.

1. First, ensure your cursor is in between two letters. Next, select the “Character� panel, as highlighted by the red arrow below (If you can’t find it, try searching “Character� within the Photoshop search tool).

3. Within the “Character� panel, you’ll see a V/A (with a little arrow below the A). That’s the “Kerning� tool. It’s automatically set to “Optical�. Click the down arrow to see your options for kerning.

4. For instance, I chose the number “75�. If you’re unsure how much space you want between your letters, test out a few different options. The negative numbers make your letters closer together, and the positive numbers create more space between the letters.

5. Now, there’s a nice “75� point space between my “K� and “E� (of course, this is probably an example of bad kerning … ).

Important note: There’s a quicker option to use the “Kerning� tool in Photoshop. If you click in between two letters, you can hit “Option� and then hit the “Right� arrow. This will create more distance between letters.

Kerning in Word

If your writing copy in Microsoft Word, or using Word to design a poster, you might want to use kerning, especially if your font is bigger and the letters look awkward.

Fortunately, it’s easy to do.

  1. Within a Word document, go to “Format� and then click “Font�. FYI, I left my cursor in between the “K� and the “e� in the document, because that’s the space to which I wanted to apply kerning.

2. Next, click “Advanced� within the Font panel.

3. Under the “Advanced� section, you’ll see “Kerning for fonts� with an empty box to the left of it. Check that box. Then, input a number (I put “20�, which you’ll see circled). The number you choose will depend on how much space you want between the letters.

4. There’s now “20� points of kerning in between the “K� and the “e�.

Kerning in Illustrator

Finally, let’s take a look at kerning in Illustrator. Since many designers and marketers use Illustrator for clients or for personal projects, it’s important to know how to apply kerning to your letters.

Kerning in Illustrator is an almost identical process to how you’d do it in Photoshop (which makes sense, since they’re both Adobe products). Nonetheless, here’s how you do it.

  1. First, click the “Textâ€� tool and put your cursor in between two letters — I put mine in between the “Kâ€� and the “Eâ€�. Then, find your “Charactersâ€� panel.

2. Similar to Photoshop, there will be a “V/Aâ€� tool, with a little arrow underneath the “Aâ€�. That’s the kerning tool. With your cursor placed between two letters, increase or decrease the number beside the kerning tool — as you can see, I set mine to “200â€�.

3. Now, I have a (admittedly, very ugly) space between my “K� and my “E�.

Examples of bad kerning

I’ve probably already shown you plenty of bad kerning examples throughout this piece, with my own attempts at kerning on various software.

But if you’d like to see more, don’t worry — we’ve got some hilarious real world examples, to show you just how important (good) kerning is.

Here are a couple examples of bad kerning:

1. Bus sign gone wrong.

2. What’s up with this spacing? 

Screen Shot 2018-05-17 at 1.53.18 PM

3. I think fixing this sign would be worth the investment.

4. Watch out for bad kerning, too. 

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 1.56.18 PM

5. This gives me a headache.

download 195+ free design templates
 
195 free visual design templates


Source: New feed

5 Things to Know Before Mark Zuckerberg's European Parliament Testimony

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is due to testify before members of European Parliament (MEPs) tomorrow, in an appearance that was confirmed by President Antonio Tajani on Twitter last week.

Zuckerberg is due to appear before the Committee for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), where he’ll likely be asked questions about protecting the personal data of EU consumers, as well as Facebook’s role in election processes and integrity.

The session — which is scheduled to begin at roughly 6:15 PM local time in Brussels (12:15 PM EST) — was speculated and predicted by many in the weeks leading up to Tajani’s confirmation.

In addition to some outlets reporting that such a meeting was in the works, several events took place soon before and after the announcement that indicated another appearance from Zuckerberg before legal officials, ranging from official statements on Facebook’s new initiatives, to changes within its organizational chart.

Before Zuckerberg makes his next official appearance, here are some key things to know.

5 Things to Know Before Mark Zuckerberg’s European Parliament Testimony

1. The testimony was originally scheduled as a closed-door session.

Shortly after Tajani’s announcement, Bloomberg reported that Zuckerberg’s initial appearance before EU lawmakers would take place behind closed doors, and that European Parliament would schedule a separate, public hearing with representatives from Facebook that may not necessarily include Zuckerberg himself.

While a secondary hearing has yet to be scheduled, as of publishing this piece, Tajani announced this morning that Zuckerberg agreed to permit the session to be live-streamed — likely due to pressure from several parties, including MEPs.

In our own survey of 313 consumers in the UK — which was conducted prior to the announcement that the session would be live-streamed — 61% of respondents said that they believed the testimony should be public.

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Verhofstadt has since reversed his statement on the matter, after the decision to cast the session. However, the degree to which the event will be “public” is arguable, as it’s not clear if members of the press or other concerned public parties will be permitted to attend.

2. Not long before the testimony was originally announced, Facebook’s executive org chart had a major shakeup.

On May 8 — just over a week before Tajani’s confirmation that Zuckerberg would be testifying before MEPs — Recode reported a major shuffle to its executive organizational chart, with changes made among the leadership at WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram, and the core Facebook app.

Here’s a visual peek at the overall changes:

In addition to the general re-org of leadership within existing Facebook teams and umbrella brands, a new team has been created to focus solely on privacy products, such as the Clear History feature announced at F8. 

When word of the executive shuffle first arrived, we anticipated that an official appearance from Zuckerberg could be imminent — especially with the creation of an entire division dedicated to one of the issues (privacy) for which Facebook has received the most scrutiny, and continues to answer the most questions.

But privacy isn’t the only topic for which Facebook has faced particularly heightened scrutiny — which brings up another important item to keep in mind going into tomorrow’s session.

3. The day after the testimony was announced, Facebook announced a partnership with the Atlantic Council for its election integrity efforts.

Facebook has also continued to receive criticism and questions about the weaponization of its platform by foreign actors to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. Since then, consumers and authorities alike have been especially vigilant of the spread of misinformation and hate speech on the site, especially where divisive issues that often cause contention during election seasons are concerned.

That prompted Facebook to release its first-ever Community Standards Enforcement Report, which includes a preliminary inventory of rule-violating content and the action Facebook took on it between October 2017 to March 2018.

But it also led Facebook — whether strictly for appearances or out of genuine concern over the weaponization of its platform — to partner with outside experts to boost its election integrity efforts, which Zuckerberg is likely to be questioned on by MEPs.

To help combat “fake accounts – the source of many bad ads and a lot of misinformation,” Facebook has partnered with nonprofit Atlantic Council, whose mission includes “stimulating dialogue and discussion about critical international issues in the Administration, the Congress, corporate and nonprofit sectors, and the media among leaders in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and the Americas.” 

The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab — the primary team partnering with Facebook — released a statement about the collaboration, in which it elaborated on that mission. Specifically, it pointed to the importance of closing the “information gap between governments, tech companies, and media in order to solve for challenges like disinformation.”

It was an interesting statement to make the day after it was first revealed that Zuckerberg’s session with MEPs would be a closed-door one, limiting the very transparency between governments and tech companies to which the statement alluded.

It also came after a recent and repeated refusal from Facebook of requests from UK Parliament for Zuckerberg to appear — which is another key item to note before tomorrow’s session.

4. UK Parliament has requested an appearance from Zuckerberg repeatedly — and Facebook has continued to decline.

On May 1 — just over two weeks prior to Tajani’s announcement — House of Commons Culture Committee chairman Damian Collins issued an open letter to Facebook UK Head of Public Policy Rebecca Stimson, stating that “the committee will resolve to issue a formal summons for [Zuckerberg] to appear when he is next in the UK.” 

In response to that letter, Stimson wrote a response on May 14th indicating that “Mr. Zuckerberg has no plans to meet with the committee or travel to the UK at the present time.”

Zuckerberg’s resolve to not appear before UK Parliament raises several questions. While other Facebook executives have undergone questioning from the committee, like CTO Mike Schroepfer, Zuckerberg himself has steadfastly refused to appear, despite committing to back-to-back U.S. congressional hearings, as well as tomorrow’s testimony before MEPs.

Video or Images: Which Performs Better in Facebook Ads?

Video or Images: Which Performs Better in Facebook Ads?

“Video marketingâ€� is one of today’s hottest industry buzzwords — and, of course, we at Animoto agree that video is a priceless tool when it comes to engaging your audience, sharing stories and information, promoting products and services, piquing interest, and more.

But we also know that video in and of itself isn’t a magic bullet. You should never go into any marketing initiative assuming what’s going to work. You need to test to find out what works for your company, your audience, and your objectives.

To that end, we set out to take Animoto’s HubSpot-inspired video templates for a spin. We ran thousands of dollars worth of tests with Facebook Ads Manager to see how video stood up to other types of content — when it worked, when it didn’t, and how to optimize its performance.

We were interested in answering these questions:

  • Do videos really perform better than images or links?
  • When it comes to videos, which types perform best?

Here’s what we found out.

Videos or images? Which perform better?

The first question we set out to answer was: do videos really perform better than images in Facebook ads?

The answer: it really depends on the video or image!

Test 1: Video vs. Blog Post Meta-Image

We started with a test driving traffic to a post on the HubSpot blog, 22 Companies With Really Catchy Slogans & Brand Taglines. We tested a video teaser, with a taste of what the blog post had to offer, against a simple shared-link posting that auto-pulled the meta-image from the blog post.

Vs.

Screen Shot 2018-05-18 at 12.05.20 PM

The Results

What did we find? The video outperformed the image … by a lot. The video got 20 percent more clicks than the image.

But wait, we asked ourselves. Was that really the best image to promote this blog post? What did a cityscape really say about catchy slogans and brand taglines? We went back to the drawing board on our next test to see if video would still perform better than image if the image was optimized.

Test 2: Video vs. Optimized Image

For our next test, we decided to promote a different HubSpot blog post, How to Recover From a Bad Sales Call. This time we tested two different video variations — one listicle, featuring three of the tips from the post, and one with more or a narrative appeal that speaks to the viewers. Check out both in the following video:

The two videos were run alongside an image test, but this time we pulled a relevant screenshot from the video that made it clear what people would get if they clicked through.

The Results

With an optimized image, things turned out a little differently. This time, the image actually beat one of the videos — the listicle. The image got more clicks at a lower cost than this video.

However, the narrative video won out in the end with the most clicks and a 3 percent lower cost per click. The narrative video had a 34 percent lower cost per click than the listicle.

Takeaway: It’s all about testing.

In the end, it turned out that videos don’t always perform best, and images don’t always perform best either. It really depends on the content. We saw image perform better than some videos, and videos perform better than some images. But testing different types of marketing collateral allowed us to figure out what type of ad and content would maximize ROI for the particular use case.

Optimizing Ad Creative

So if you’re embarking on a Facebook ad campaign, or really any type of social ad campaign, how do you ensure you’re getting started with optimized creative? We’ll break down some general rules to help you get started, based on the findings of our tests.

Optimizing Videos

First things first, we did learn a few things from our tests about what you can do to optimize the videos you’re creating for advertising:

  • Go square. Square videos take up 78 percent more space in the News Feed and have consistently outperformed landscape videos. In one of our tests, we created a video to promote a HubSpot blog post, 22 Handy Slack Hacks Everyone Should Know. We created square and landscape versions, and the square video performed better across the board, with a 50 percent lower cost per click and 45 percent more engagement.
  • Think about your objective. This is important. Your video needs to address this objective. If you want to tease a blog post, for instance, you’ll want to make sure it’s clear what the blog post is about and you’ll need to include a clear CTA letting them know where they can read more.

Optimizing Images

We also learned that an optimized image can do wonders for the success of your ad. Here are a few tips to help ensure your image is optimized:

  • Watch the text. Facebook ads may run with reduced impressions, or not at all, if too large a percentage of your image is covered by text. Use Facebook’s Image Text Check to make sure your image doesn’t exceed the limit. This is what we used to create the optimized image for our second test above.
  • Be clear. Make sure that the image makes clear what people will get when they click through to learn or read more. This’ll help ensure that the folks that are coming to your page are actually interested in the content and will help reduce bounce.
  • Be eye-catching. Choose something bright, clear, or unique to stand out in the News Feed.

But as we discovered, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, so it’s important to test –try a few different things, see what works, what doesn’t, and iterate.

Optimizing ROI with A/B testing

Whether or not you’ve used A/B testing in the past, thinking about testing in the context of video can be a lot to wrap your head around. There are all sorts of things to test, from CTA copy to colors, fonts, what photos and video clips you use, what story you tell, and everything in between. Test videos against images; test videos against other videos; test everything and improve your results over time.

What Variations to Test

Not sure which variations to test? Here are some suggestions:

  • Media variations: Try using different photos or video clips in a video to see which performs for you. Or, if you’re testing an image, try to optimize the image to suit your needs, as we did in the second test above. In this example, WV Skydivers tested two video variations—one starting with a photo and one starting with a video clip. The video clip variation reached 10K people, while the photo variation reached only 1.2K.
  • Text variations: Try a couple different CTAs or change up the text to present your video differently, as we did in the test of a narrative vs. a listicle.
  • Length: See if a short, medium, or long video gets the best results. We tested 0:15, 0:30, and 0:45 versions of the same video in one of our tests and the 0:30 video had a stronger click through rate. But we’ve seen instances where a long video has performed best and those where a super short looping clip has won, which is why testing is important!

How to Set up A/B Tests

You can set up A/B tests in Facebook. To get started you’ll need a Facebook page, a Facebook Ads Manager account, and some ad variations — two or more videos, two or more images, or a combination of images and videos. Simply run two versions of your ad and be sure to keep everything the same except for the variation you are testing. This includes the ad objective, budget, target audience, and any copy that runs alongside your ad (unless the copy is the variation).

As you test, you’ll begin to understand what resonates with your audience and can hone your strategy going forward. By not assuming that one type of content will work best for your advertising you can start creating ads that perform.

Animoto and HubSpot recently joined forces to create a collection of video templates for business owners looking to create professional marketing videos to promote blog posts, boost event registration, or collect leads for a product.


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The Inventory Management Guide for Ecommerce

Here’s a basic math question for you: Sammie has 50 sprockets. She sells eight of them. How many sprockets does she have left?

Now, here’s another question: Sammie has 50 sprockets. She receives an order for eight sprockets and ships four of them out to customers. How many sprockets are in Sammie’s inventory?

These types of questions aren’t just relics of elementary school — they’re also challenges inherent to inventory management. And it’s the reason Sammie has 42 sprockets at the end of the first question but 46 sprockets at end of the second.

Inventory management goes beyond simple arithmetic. Sammie has 46 sprockets in her inventory because she only subtracts four of the eight sprocket orders until the other four are delivered to customers. It’s this kind of contingency that makes organization, automation, and technique crucial when you have so much product to keep track of.Find out how to keep customers from abandoning their shopping cart when  browsing your online store.

To help you dive into inventory management, let’s explain what inventory management is in the ecommerce world, the software that supports this ongoing process, and some common techniques for managing inventory successfully.

Inventory Management Definition

Inventory management is the act of overseeing the volume, diversity, pricing, and location of a business’s available products. If a product is in stock, it’s counted as part of the business’s inventory and managed as it moves through the supply chain.

The product’s availability is then noted on the item’s purchase page online.

This is why, in our example of Sammie’s 50 sprockets, she still has 46 sprockets after selling eight. Knowing what’s currently in her inventory, how many units of her product have been ordered, and how many units her inventory is shipping and receiving is all part of basic inventory management.

Inventory management does not include company property, manufacturing equipment, and other forms of business capital. It can, however, include separate parts of a product that has not yet been assembled for a customer. How these parts are counted in relation to the finished product depends on the form in which the product is delivered to the customer.

Inventory Management Software

As your business grows, it will inevitably become harder to manage inventory manually — especially if you sell online, where your customers expect to see a product’s availability and status at every point in the buying process.

Luckily, there are numerous inventory management tools on the market today that integrate with an ecommerce website and help you monitor your supply chain. To make your software choices easier, we’ve listed seven of the best solutions for ecommerce businesses below.

Delivrd

Price: Free

Delivrd inventory management software

Delivrd is a free cloud-based order-fulfillment solution for businesses of all sizes. The platform tracks your inventory, prints barcodes, analyzes each product’s profitability, and even bundles unfulfilled orders together to consolidate future shipments.

Notify Me

Price: Free

Notify Me inventory management software

Notify Me is a free inventory manager for ecommerce businesses who use Shopify as their sales channel. In addition to watching over your store’s available products, Notify Me uniquely allows you to set automated alerts for when items go out of stock. Shopify users can download the web app here.

Oberlo

Price: Free up to 50 orders/month

Oberlo inventory management software

Oberlo is one of the best inventory management services for dropshipping stores — or those ecommerce businesses that deliver products directly to the customer from a manufacturer, without storing any product on-site. You can create rules for when to reprice products, sort products by their delivery times, track shipments, change product suppliers, and more. Oberlo also has a web app for Shopify users.

Ordoro

Price: Starts at $25/month

Ordoro inventory management software

Ordoro is a cloud-based shipping tool for managing inventory at every point in the sales process. The service automates shipping requests, dropshipping, barcode scanning, and supplier management — and can provide revenue data in real time. Ordoro integrates with more than two dozen sales channels and shipping carriers. It also has a web app for Shopify users.

inFlow

Price: Starts at $69/month

inFlow inventory management software

You get a lot for what you’re paying when you use inFlow. This cloud-based inventory manager organizes bills, barcodes, work orders, product serial numbers, product destinations, and more — whether the item is in your inventory or in transit. In addition to working offline, inFlow also offers robust Windows and Android apps to manage your inventory from your mobile device.

Skubana

Price: Request a Quote

Skubana inventory management software

Skubana connects your ecommerce business with retailers all over the world. The software helps you manage customer orders and your own restocking process, while integrating with the retail brands who might also want to sell your product. Skubana tracks order fulfillment from multiple warehouses and generates demand forecasts that help you grow your product line. It also has a web app for Shopify users.

Unleashed

Price: Starts at $85/month

Unleashed inventory management software

Unleashed is a sleek, flexible inventory management solution that allows ecommerce customers to make big decisions about their product line based on real-time data. The software is perfect for manufacturers, according to Unleashed’s website, and offers the most important inventory information in a convenient sales app for your mobile device.

Inventory Management Techniques

Although a business’s available stock on any given day is just a snapshot of its inventory, managing inventory on an ongoing basis — and comparing multiple periods of inventory to one another — can help an ecommerce business make valuable long-term decisions about its supply chain.

Ecommerce companies can manage their inventory in several ways, but not every method of management will provide the insight you need to help your business grow. Here are a few different inventory management techniques you can try, and the advantages of using each one.

Just-In-Time

This inventory management technique stocks a product each time a customer orders it, so the volume of your inventory is more or less equal to the number of orders you’re filling.

The advantage to the Just-In-Time (JIT) technique is that you’re managing only the products you know you need to ship to customers. Sustaining JIT over the long term, however, requires you to keep a close watch on buying behavior so you can anticipate your inventory needs ahead of time.

First In, First Out

First In, First Out (FIFO) means the first products your inventory receives are the first to be shipped out to their respective customers.

This technique ensures products don’t sit in your inventory for too long before they’re delivered to a customer. FIFO is popular in the food industry, where businesses are up against the expiration dates of perishable items and need to ship food while it’s fresh.

Par Levels

Setting par levels gives businesses a safety net by ensuring their inventory always carries a minimum amount of each product at all times. So, even if a company uses the JIT method, where it only stocks what customers order, the company will always have the product available.

Ultimately, par levels aren’t for emergencies where you’d need a spare product. Rather, they establish a warning line for when it’s time to order more of something. Once your inventory dips below a certain number of a given product, you order more of it.

It’s important to set your par levels based on how long it takes to restock. The product that takes the longest time for a business to make, for example, might have a higher inventory par level than the business’s other products since there’s a greater chance of depleting your inventory in the time it takes to develop the new product.

ABC Analysis

ABC Analysis groups a business’s products into three categories based on a product’s importance. Here’s one common breakdown of these categories:

  • Category A: products that are high in value but low in quantity
  • Category B: products that are moderate in value and moderate in quantity
  • Category C: products that are low in value but high in quantity

Also known as “selective inventory control,” this inventory management technique allows businesses with diverse product lines to easily prioritize the contents of their inventory. Similar to the JIT technique, succeeding under ABC analysis requires a close eye on buyers’ interest in each product, and not every product fits perfectly into each category. Snowboards, for example, might always have the high value of Category A, but inherit the high quantity of Category C during the winter.

Dropshipping

In a way, dropshipping is the anti-inventory. A specialty of Oberlo, an inventory management tool mentioned earlier in this article, dropshipping ships products from the manufacturer directly to the customer without the business ever storing the product itself.

Dropshipping can pose an advantage to businesses who don’t (yet) have their own storage space. But because you’re not managing your deliveries yourself, communication with the shipping party is critical to delivering products on time and keeping customers happy.

Demand Forecasting

Your inventory management software might help you do this, but it’s important to create long-term (or even year-long) forecasts for when sales of each product you sell will fluctuate.

One way to conduct a demand prediction? Look at last year’s sales as a whole and use them as a guideline for when to expect your inventory to change over the course of the current year. These changes might be influenced by market conditions or simply seasonality, but you should always factor them into your product strategy — especially if the software you use to automate your inventory operations doesn’t consider these variables.

Here’s one final inventory management tip to take with you: Nurture your relationships with everyone who touches your business’s product. Whether it’s the shipping merchant or a new employee, the state of your inventory depends on you to have open communication with your colleagues, and to support them as much as you support your customers when they browse your online store.

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How to Clear Your Cache, Cookies, and History on Any Device or Browser

If you’ve had your computer for a while, it might be time you clear some space.

Your browser automatically stores past websites you’ve visited, images you’ve saved, your passwords, and a ton of other information.

While this information might be useful, over time, it takes up space on your hard drive, and could lead to issues like 404 errors (resulting from a corrupted cache).Download our complete productivity guide here for more tips on improving your  productivity at work.

Plus, do you really need to know which websites you visited in 2016?

It’s insanely easy to delete your cache, cookies, or browser history on any browser or device. In fact, it should take less than five minutes. So let’s get to it.

Desktop browsers

How to clear your cache in Chrome

1. Go to: chrome://settings/clearBrowserData

2. Click “Advanced�

3. Select “Browsing history�, “Download history�, “Cookies and other site data�, and “Cached images and files�.

4. If you want, you can select a time range, i.e. “Last hour�, or “Last 4 weeks�.

5. Click “Clear Data�

6. Exit all browser windows, and reopen

How to clear your cache in Safari

1. Go to the Safari menu, and select “Clear History�

2. Select a time range, then click “Clear History�

3. Exit all browser windows, and reopen

How to clear your cache in Firefox

1. From the “History� menu, select “Clear Recent History�

2. If you want, you can select a time range with the drop-down menu, or select “Everything� to clear all your history

3. Next to “Details�, click the down arrow to choose which items you wish to clear (or select all)

4. Click “Clear Now�

5. Exit all browser windows, and reopen

Mac or PC

How to clear your cache on a Mac

There are two ways to clear your cache on a Mac — via a cleaning utility system like CleanMyMac 3, or manually.

If you want to clear it in three steps with a cleaning utility system, try this:

  1. Launch CleanMyMac 3
  2. Select “System Junk�
  3. Click “Scan� and then “Clean

However, if you want to clean it manually, here are four easy steps:

  1. Open the Finder Window and Select “Go� on the navigation bar
  2. Click “Go to Folder� in the Go menu
  3. Type in: ~/Library/Caches and hit enter
  4. Go into each folder, and delete everything

If you clean your cache manually, we suggest you remove the inside of your folders, but not the folders themselves — better yet, highlight all your folders and copy everything over, in case something goes wrong.

How to clear your cache on a PC

  1. Go to your “Start� menu and search in the box, “Run�
  2. In the Run box, type “Prefetch�
  3. Select all folders in Prefetch and click “delete�

Mobile Devices

How to clear your cache on Android

While this may differ depending on your device, you can likely clear your data history from your application manager on your Android device.

1. Go to Settings and choose “Apps� or “Application Manager�

2. Swipe to the “All� tab

3. In the list of installed apps, find and select your web browser

4. Click “Clear Data� and then “Clear Cache�

5. Exit all browser windows, and reopen

How to clear your cache on Chrome for Android

1. Select “Chrome menu� and then “Settings�

2. Click “(Advanced) Privacy�

3. If you want, you can select a time range with the drop-down menu, or select “All time�

4. Check off “Cookies and Site data� and “Cached Images and Files�

5. Select “Clear data�

6. Exit all browser windows, and reopen

How to clear your cache on Safari for iOS

1. Open your “Settings� app

2. Click “Safari�

3. Select “Clear History and Website Data� and confirm

4. Exit all browser windows, and reopen

How to clear your cache on Chrome for iOS

1. Select “Settings� in your Chrome menu

2. Select “Privacy�

3. Click “Clear Browsing Data�

4. Choose the data type you want to clear, and click “Clear Browsing Data�

5. Exit all browser windows, and reopen

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How to Hire a Freelance Developer

So your company is growing. Things are exciting. Everyone is motivated and ideas are coming in from left and right.

Then it happens.

You say something along the lines of, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could build [revolutionary idea here]? It would cut costs/generate a ton of new leads/change the way we operate.�

The team is rallying around the idea, the boss is giving you the wink and the gun, everything feels right in the world — until the dread hits. Who’s going to build it?Click here to download our free guide to hiring and training a team of  all-stars.

Hiring your first freelance developer can seem difficult, but it doesn’t need to be. With the right plan in place and an understanding of your company’s needs, finding the right freelancer for the job can be a largely painless process.

I’ve worked on both sides of this equation as an independent, freelance web developer and as someone who’s run a large development team. Follow these steps to make the process smoother for both you and your new freelance partner.

How to Hire a Freelance Developer

First ask yourself: What do you need?

Before identifying a freelancer to work with, you should first know what you’re asking for. This should always be step number one. Are you looking to update some images on a web page? Do you need an entirely new site? Is it a mobile app? Is something wrong with your analytics? Do you need a new tool created?

The answer to any of these questions will set the tone for how you start your search, and who you ultimately hire.

Now that you’ve identified the type of project, it’s time to think about the scope, and how your freelancer will fit into the equation. When you find that special someone, you’ll want to tell them exactly what you need. Is it five pages and two emails? What’s the content of those pages? Do you have a design? Is any of the content dynamic? And most importantly, what’s the deadline?

Before you jump into the hiring process, make sure you can define everything up front. Don’t leave anything to chance or assumptions — because we all know what happens when you assume, right?

Having all of this information ahead of time will help you identify the skill set you’re looking for in a developer (we’re not a one-size-fits-all solution), and ensure your project is completed to your expectations on schedule.

Another major benefit to scoping is that it will also help you avoid scope creep as your project progresses. Scope creep is bad. It’s bad for you and it’s bad for the freelancer. It’s bad for you because it will cost extra money and will (probably) force you to miss your deadline. It’s bad for the freelancer because they were working on a specific set of criteria that now is expanded upon or blown up. It will also (probably) prevent them from starting other projects on time which costs them money.

Let’s find someone!

Now that we know what exactly we’re hiring someone for, let’s go find your developer! Assuming you don’t already have someone in mind, there are a number of places online where you can find strong developers.

Check out websites like Upwork, Fiverr, or Freelancer.com for freelance help. You can search developers by reviews, location, and by skill set. Remember that little scoping exercise you did earlier? Well now you know if you’re looking for someone with CSS chops or if they need to know JavaScript.

Screenshot from upwork.com

Take a look at some previously completed projects. If you like what you’re seeing, reach out and ask questions, but be respectful. You haven’t hired this person yet, so the time they’re spending with you is time they’re not spending on another project. When you’re confident you’ve found your developer, it’s time to make a deal.

Let’s make a deal.

You’ve found your developer. You know what they’re building. Now it’s time to get it down on paper. Handshakes are cool, as are verbal agreements, but make sure you get it in writing. This isn’t to say that you’re going to get swindled. The reason you want a contract is so that you have your scope, your deliverables, and your timelines outlined. A contract will also give you the opportunity to build in check-ins,testing time, and a payment schedule (we’ll get back to this).

It’s also important to remember that this isn’t a one way street. Your freelancer will — and should — have a say about the timeline and scope of the project. Remember: you’re hiring them because they have expertise in a field that you do not.

While I wouldn’t say you should have implicit trust in someone you probably just met, you should respect their evaluation of the situation, and take it into account as you map out your project and the role they will play. If they tell you something isn’t possible within a certain timeframe, or provide alternative options to accomplish your goals, you should listen and evaluate those options in relation to your goals.

Now here comes the tricky part, right? The money! Freelancers traditionally work in two ways, hourly or per project. The definitions are just how they sound. Hourly freelancers get paid for the time they work so you negotiate an hourly rate (Rate x Hours Worked = Pay). Per project freelancers work on a, you guessed it, per project basis, meaning you pay them an agreed upon fee for the project in total.

Two things to consider here:

  1. You get what you pay for. This isn’t the place to skimp out. If you’re trying to save a buck, don’t be surprised if the final project doesn’t meet expectations or if the freelancer takes on a higher paying project in addition to yours. Before getting upset, put yourself in their shoes. You’d expect to be paid fairly for your work, the freelancer expects the same.
  2. Be honest about your budget. If you only have a certain amount of money available, let the freelancer know and see if you can’t work something out. Maybe the scope will have to change, maybe the fee will work after all. You don’t know until you ask.

No matter what payment structure you agree to, put together a payment schedule. This will keep things on track. Freelancers will have different expectations. For some it will be a 50/50 split between the start and finish of a project. For others they’ll split it up into three (33%) or four (25%) installments. No matter what you agree to, do not pay for your project in full before the work is completed and delivered. Once you’ve made a deal, it’s time to get to work.

This is where the magic happens.

You’ve hired your freelancer. They understand the ask. The final delivery date is agreed upon. It’s time to send emails and texts every five minutes, right? Wrong.

Development, design, video editing, writing, and others, are all highly technical skills that require time and concentration. Let your freelancer do the job you hired them for. It’s okay to reach out every once in a while if you haven’t heard anything, but this is probably a good time to refer to the check-in schedule you added to your contract.

With that said, it’s still important that you make yourself available in case they have any questions. And remember, this isn’t the time for scope creep or assumptions. This is the part where the work gets across the finish line.

What happens next?

The work has been delivered. It looks and functions great. Now what? Make sure you pay your freelancer. Whether this is where you part ways or before you start the conversation about your next project, please pay your freelancer.

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Excel Online: Tips, Tricks, and Hidden Features You Should Know

If you’ve been using Excel from your desktop for years, switching to the online version can seem like a scary — and even unnecessary — transition.

But Excel Online is free, and offers additional advantages to using the desktop version. If you use the Online version, you can sync your spreadsheet to other web apps, allowing you to gather additional data or automate workflows.Click here to download our collection of free Excel templates that will make  your life easier.

Better yet, using Excel Online helps you collaborate with coworkers on larger projects.

Excel Online is a fantastic option for gathering, viewing, and analyzing your data. Even if you haven’t paid for Excel’s desktop version, you can begin using Excel Online for free today. And Excel Online offers almost all the same features, so if you’re interested in collaboration or taking advantage of the web add-ons, it could be worth the switch.

Here, we’ll investigate how to use Excel Online, compare the features of Excel Online versus desktop Excel, and take a look at some of the hidden online features you’ll definitely want to know about.

How to Use Excel Online: Beginner’s Guide

There are two ways to locate Excel Online: first, click this Products.Office link, and select “Excel.� It will ask you to sign in, and then you can begin creating a spreadsheet.

Or, open OneDrive, and select a spreadsheet you’ve saved.

If you want to move your desktop spreadsheets to Excel Online, you can use OneDrive.com to do this — there are two different ways.

First, you can open OneDrive.com and drag and drop your spreadsheet files from your desktop to OneDrive.

However, dragging and dropping files means if you edit those files online, your edits won’t transfer to your desktop. If you want to switch back and forth between the two, this can become problematic.

Another option for moving desktop spreadsheets to Excel Online is downloading the OneDrive app, logging in with your Microsoft account, and copying your Excel files to the OneDrive folder to sync them.

This option is likely more favorable. After downloading the OneDrive app, you can sync your files to the cloud. Then, any edits you make online will automatically transfer to your desktop files, and vice versa.

Once you’re all set up in Excel, you can use it the same way you use the desktop version — the design is the same, and most of the functions are the same.

Now, let’s take a closer look at Excel Online’s features, so you know exactly what Online includes.

Excel Online Features

Excel 2016 desktop version offers 471 functions.

Excel Online offers over 400 functions, and it supports many additional functions if you input them correctly, except a few. This makes desktop and Online almost completely comparable in function.

Here’s Microsoft Office’s complete list of features offered in Excel Online, verus Excel desktop.

It’s important to note while charts, tables, PivotChart reports, and PivotTable reports are displayed similarly in Excel Online, there are a few charts unsupported Online. These include: charts that are part of a group of charts, charts that rely on external references, and charts that use certain kinds of data sources that are not supported for workbooks.

However, the majority of Excel’s most important features are supported equally in Excel Online. For instance, calculations, cells, dates, external references, fields lists for a PivotChart or PivotTable report, filters, slices, and timeline controls, formatting, named items, sparklines, and tables, are all available features in Excel Online.

If there’s a feature unsupported in Excel Online, but the majority of your project can be completed in Excel Online, perhaps you can work back and forth between Online and desktop, using OneDrive to sync your data automatically.

Excel Online Conditional Formatting

If you’re worried about conditional formatting with Excel Online, you shouldn’t be.

Excel Online supports conditional formatting. To use conditional formatting Online, select your data range, and then go to Home > Conditional Formatting. From there, you can pick your style.

If you use conditional formatting on your desktop Excel, you will still see the changes to your workbook when you open it in Excel Online.

Hidden Functions Online

Last, but certainly not least, let’s dive into some functions you might not know about for Excel Online specifically.

We’ve talked a lot about similarities between Excel Online and desktop, but if they were just similar, there’d be no point choosing Online over desktop.

Here are a few features that make Excel Online unique.

1. Surveys

If you use Excel on a desktop, you need to use third-party survey makers to gather survey information. If you use Excel Online, you don’t need the extra step — you can create a survey directly within the site.

To create a survey in Excel Online, click New > Forms for Excel.

Next, name your Survey and click “Create�. Select “Add Question� to add a new question to the survey. You can choose to add Choice, Text, Rating, or Date questions.

Images courtesy of Microsoft Office Support.

Click “Preview� at the top of the window to see how your survey will look on a computer. Once you’re happy with it, click “Submit�.

2. Install Add-ons

There are plenty of add-ons available for Excel Online. To find them, go to Insert > Office Add-ins. You can choose an add-on by category or name, and then click the “Add� button. After installing, you must click the “Start� button to use the add-on.

3. Share Your Spreadsheet

Similar to Google Docs, you can share your Excel files with other people, and either let those people edit, or simply view your data. Within your sheet, simply click the “Share� button at the top right corner. Within the pop-up, you can either choose “Edit� or “View� permissions, and then generate a link to share with anyone.

4. Leave a Comment

Let’s say you’ve created an Excel sheet with a coworker, and you want to tell her something about a particular section of data. Rather than confusing her with a lengthy email explaining what and where, you can simply comment within the spreadsheet.

To add a comment, select a cell or section and then right click and select “Insert Comment.� You can also go to Insert > Comment.

There are certainly plenty of other tips, tricks, and fun features available solely within Excel Online. Give it a try for yourself, and let us know on Twitter if you find any other impressive online features.

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