Pin of the Month – Becoming a LinkedIn Jedi

Continuing "LinkedIn Month" on ShoreBranding.com w/ our August "Pin of the Month". (Infographic by Gryffin.com)

Continuing “LinkedIn Month” on ShoreBranding.com w/ our August “Pin of the Month”. (Infographic by Gryffin.com)

Our August “Pin of the Month” kicks off our “LinkedIn Month” here at Shore Branding. As referenced in last week’s #SundayMusings, we will be focusing on LinkedIn over the next month or so.  The infographic above from Gryffin.com provides a ton of recommendations and brainstorming about how to get the most out of LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is the clear number one site when it comes to professional networking with hundreds of millions of active users around the globe. What does the platform allow you to do – just as the infographic illustrates, LinkedIn allows you “discover professional opportunities, explore new ventures, and cultivate professional relationships”. I can’t think of a better way to describe / summarize how you should be thinking about LinkedIn.

I love the way this infographic has connected Star Wars to their recommendations on how to better leverage LinkedIn for your professional career. Many of these items are part of our forthcoming “Tips” article on how to better leverage the network for your personal use. (We’ll also be creating a second “Tips” article for businesses.)

My favorite part of the infographic itself is the examples provided towards the end of each section. They have taken Donna Serdula, Dave Kerpen, and Guy Kawasaki’s use of LinkedIn and made the connection to each section of recommendations. This really brings to life each of the recommendations and someone that the reader can reference when thinking about updating their own LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn affords you the opportunity to build your own brand and influence in your area of expertise. As the infographic points out, you can build your identity in a number of ways – from starting your own group and/or participating in those with similar thoughts and interests, to sharing content via status updates, and/or endorsing your connections. It is all about engaging with others in your network and growing it out.

There is a ton of interesting information and thoughts on this infographic by Gryffin.com. I really thought it was a phenomenal visual to bring home a lot of different thoughts and recommendations. What is your favorite part? Do you agree or disagree with any of the information they provide? If so, let us know in the Comments below.

In case you are unfamiliar with our “Pin of the Month”, each month we’ll be posting one of the better infographics, pictures, etc. that we typically find on our Pinterest page and (over-) analyzing it in a blog write-up. For those specifically interested in LinkedIn, here is our LinkedIn board on Pinterest.

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 8-17-14

Branding and Digital Marketing

Branding and Digital Marketing – This week’s focus = Social Media

Welcome back to another edition of #SundayMusings with Shore Branding. This week’s musings focus on social media and the news/stories that caught my attention over the past few weeks. As you will see under the ‘Thoughts’ of our last link/article, we are kicking off “LinkedIn Month” here on Shore Branding and focusing on the network in the coming weeks with new “Pin of the Month” and “Tips” articles.

#1 – The 10 Best Social Media SlideShare Presentations of 2014 – via blog.bufferapp.com 

Premise: The author pulls together his favorite SlideShare presentations, all of which revolve around social media in some capacity. Embedding each into the post and picking out his favorite slide of each, the author puts enough context in his write-up to let you know which of these might be of more interest to you and the main idea behind the content of each.

Thoughts: First, I have an equal amount of admiration, for the lack of a better word, for SlideShare. With the change in how we write each ‘Sunday Musings’ article to a specific topic, I’m checking SlideShare every week to find a potential fit with our topic of interest. Naturally, this compilation of a top ten presentations on social media more than suffices for this week.

The two presentations that caught my attention within this write-up were #4 – “Why Content Marketing Fails” by Rand Fishkin and #5 – “The Nuts and Bolts of Social Media_’Great Success’” by Matthew Capala. Any time you can weave in ‘Borat’ to your social media presentation, you have won the internet for the day.

#2 – “Twitter just dropped a huge hint that it will introduce shopping services” via TheNextWeb.com 

Premise: While not yet active, Twitter has added a “Payment & Services” section to their Android app, further suggesting the company has an ecommerce plan in place that is almost ready to be deployed. While Twitter continues to evolve, this clearly is a step towards adding another revenue stream for the company.

Thoughts: Twitter has partnered with the likes of Amazon and American Express to build a stronger ecommerce platform but has yet to really prove it has a functional model that is well accepted and adopted.

As you may notice in the comments section of this article, shortly after the write-up went live, Twitter took the “Payment & Services” option out of the setting menu. This is clearly another way for the company to grow revenue. The company continues to throw these options against a wall and I believe it is only a matter of time before at least one of them sticks.

#3 – The New Foursquare Is Here, and It’s Surprisingly Good via Mashable.com  

Premise: Foursquare rolled out its updated app to users and it is a powerful tool that can help users find their way through any city/area with helpful hints and tips that meet their individual wants and needs. The new app takes out the social check-in but immediately prompts you to filling in / creating a profile of what you are into. Foursquare uses these preferences along with all of the data the user has provided them in the past (via check-ins) to provide better, more relevant recommendations.

There are a good number of details that many users may or may not want to get involved with, including filtering out a search for places you have/have not been to, a map view, and more.

Thoughts: I received the updated Foursquare app on my mobile last week and immediately took a peek in. I tend to agree with the author’s take – there is a lot of information and data available and the recommendations can/will be much more valuable than ever before. I will continue to use the app and I find myself checking it a little bit more frequently based on the filtering and search system in place.

That said, as discussed several times over the past few months, I hate that they have separated the check-in into Swarm / a separate app.

#4 – “How to Use the New LinkedIn Header Image for Profiles” via SocialMediaExaminer.com  

Premise: LinkedIn has a new update for premium accounts/profiles, allowing users to upload a header/hero image to their profile. The new feature allows you to increase your personal branding and marketing to showcase your talents and creativity to those who visit your profile. While the site offers up various stock images, you can also upload your own … and probably should. The recommended dimensions for the new header image are 1400×425 pixels and has to be under 4 MB.

Thoughts: I really like the recommendations and examples towards the end of the write-up here. There are a number of examples from others that you can use as a starting point for your thought process on what you want your image to be. I’ve actually gone with a word cloud for my LinkedIn profile. What do you think?

As referenced at the beginning, I’m excited to announce that this is actually the start of an unofficial “LinkedIn Month” on ShoreBranding.com. Over the coming weeks, each blog post will put the spotlight on the network. Next weekend we will have a new “Pin of the Month”. Following this will be #SundayMusings that focus squarely on LinkedIn and two “Tips” articles – one focusing on improving your personal LinkedIn page, the second from a business page perspective.

Tweet of the Week:

This is a good reminder on leveraging the right social media platform for the right message and target. You need to think very clearly about what you are posting and who the recipient is going to be. LinkedIn and Facebook offer wildly different purposes and that needs to be accounted for in your personal social media strategy.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s #SundayMusings. If you have or see a write-up on LinkedIn and you think it be helpful for others, send it my way and I’ll include it in the next few editions as we focus in on the platform over the next month. Have a great week!

Product Review: Samsung Gear Live

What do you think about Samsung’s Gear Live smartwatch?  (Photo credit: play.google.com)

What do you think about Samsung’s Gear Live smartwatch? (Photo credit: play.google.com)

After focusing a Sunday Musings on wearables last month and toying with the idea of getting a smartwatch for about a week, I finally caved and purchased the Samsung Gear Live from the Google Play Store.  Within two days, the smartwatch was at my doorstep and ready for use.  Below are a few thoughts and considerations for the device, along with a wishlist for improvements.  You will also find a few app recommendations sprinkled in.

Ahead of the purchase, I had read a good amount of complaints about the Gear Live’s band and the way that you snap it into position on your wrist.  I actually don’t have any problem with getting the band on my wrist and it fits comfortably.

Samsung Gear Live Band

There were also a lot of comments on the charging device.  Again, I don’t have a problem with the charger either.  Is it a little awkward?  Sure.  Is it hard to attach to the back of my watch?  No, not at all.  That said, my mind/opinion would immediately change on the charger if (or when) the prongs start to break and I have to purchase a new one.

Samsung Gear Live Charger

Finally, setting up the phone is as easy as promoted.  Simply download the Android Wear app in the Play market, turn on your Bluetooth on your mobile and power up the smartwatch.  You will receive a sync approval message and that’s that, you are connected.

Positives:

One of the biggest reasons for purchasing the smartwatch was to track my health a bit more closely.  I tried using my S5 and the S Health app, but I found myself getting annoyed at trying to remember to put my phone in my pocket as I walked around the house.  I figured using a pedometer on the smartwatch would be much easier … and it is.  I also found the heart rate monitor to be much easier to use vs. putting my finger on the sensor on the back of my S5.  Net/net, the beta version of Google Fit works better on my smartwatch vs. trying to track this data via my phone.

Voice texting is pretty awesome on the Gear Live … after switching to the Hangouts app.  Originally, I was using the Message+ app from Verizon and voice texting simply was not working.  After switching off to Hangouts for my primary texting service, voice texting worked almost flawlessly.  Occasionally there will be a misunderstanding or the watch doesn’t catch what I’m saying, but overall, this works pretty well and is becoming more regular/normal for me to do as each day passes.

Where there is room for improvement:

In my first positive I mention the good parts of Google Fit.  However, what I mentioned as the “positives” are really the only parts to Google Fit right now.  This is very much a beta version.  At the very least, it would be nice to have a complimentary app to plug in what I eat/drink on my mobile devices, note when I exercise, etc.

I would like to see better integration across Google Apps as soon as possible.  While you can drop a new note/reminder into the Keep app, you can’t edit existing apps that you have already created.  I would love to be able to use Wallet directly on the Gear Live as well.

Apps:

There are two essential apps that you will want to download as soon as you get your Gear Live.  The Wear Store app will keep you up to date on all of the latest and greatest app releases for Android Wear.  The Wear Mini Launcher app is also a must have.  After downloading, simply swipe to the left on your Gear Live and and all of the apps will appear for you.

I’ve downloaded two games to keep myself occupied and to see how functional they are.  The first was a simple tic-tac-toe app.  The second is Flopsy Droid, which I love.

Finally, I have switched weather apps across my devices.  So long Weather Channel and hello to 1Weather.

The app market for Android Wear does make it feel that much more of a beta version.  There are Twitter apps, but nothing official from the company.  One only lets you send a tweet, another only lets you read your Twitter feed.  So, that leaves a lot to be desired.  I would also like to see an official app from Foursquare/Swarm.  The ability to check-in via voice control would be a nice little perk.

Overall:

Personally, I really like the Samsung Gear Live.  The smartwatch does have a beta feel to it and there are obviously improvements to be made / forthcoming.  If you are in the market for a smartwatch, I would have no reservations about recommending this to you.  For those that aren’t ready or aren’t sure if they are ready, you are probably better off waiting until the market becomes a bit more mature, or you are likely to feel a bit underwhelmed with the product.

 

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 8-3-14

Branding and Digital Marketing

Branding and Digital Marketing

This week’s #SundayMusings takes us back to our branding roots and focuses in on brand extensions! Occasionally you see some off the wall ideas launched under a brand umbrella and it makes you hide in fear. Other times, it is a stroke of genius. Is there a real science here or is it just luck? Take a look at some of these brand extension stories from the past few weeks and maybe they will help you decide.

#1 – Instant.ly Says It Can Tell Brands Which New Products People Will Actually Buy – via AdWeek.com 

Premise: Instant.ly has launched a metric called “Shelf Score Index” which measures purchase intent through their platform, which also takes into account “category disruption from small or unknown brands”. CPG brands are always looking to better understand purchase intent, particularly with brand extensions and new SKU’s. This new method of testing is faster and less expensive according to Instant.ly. The metric will be released on a monthly basis.

Thoughts: Brand extensions can be a very scary proposition. The ability to quickly understand the size of prize and opportunity of an extension is a powerful metric, as it can tell you to pull back on the marketing and push for a new product based on its likelihood to fall flat with consumers, or conversely, to push the product/SKU further given its appeal.

Interesting infographic at the bottom of this write-up that has been created for the top ten scoring product innovations in July within the food/CPG space, with snacks and cereals dominating the list.

#2 – “Reebok Gets Into the Bacon Business, Catering to CrossFitters’ Sizzling Indulgence” via AdFreak.com

Premise: The CrossFit Games took place this past week. Helping with the celebration was Reebok, who decided to release a new product … bacon. CrossFitters are known to follow a Paleo diet. In an effort to stretch the Reebok name – a sponsor of the CrossFit Games – the brand sent its bacon packages to the athletes participating in the event, as well as others in the community. It will also have a food truck at the event serving, of course, its bacon.

Thoughts: This brand extension had me at … bacon. This is about as wide of a brand stretch or extension that I can remember and you know what, it seems to work/make some sense. They have tied the promotional efforts together nicely between the CrossFit Games and the typical dieting efforts. If nothing else, it will be interesting to see how big the buzz gets for the brand. Moving forward, they could really take advantage of the different events that lead up to the Games themselves, promoting at both the Open in February and Regional events in May.

This also reminded me of the Scope Bacon mouthwash YouTube clip that the brand put together last April Fools’ Day.

#3 – Brand innovation is like a trip to the dentist via BrandAide.com  

Premise: The folks at BrandAide have a book coming out and this article includes excerpts from that publication with a Q&A with Kyle Hermans. The Q&A/discussion centers on brand innovation, what it really means to Hermans, the fear that innovation creates, etc.

Thoughts: I thought this was an excellent interview that gets behind the mindset of brand/product innovation and how it can be a painstaking process that either has great reward or failure. This happens across industry time and time again.

Two particular discussion points really caught my attention. First, the example of Kodak and its complete and utter failure to recognize the growing trend of digital photography. By the time they tried to adapt, it was far too late and they are essentially a dead brand at this time. The second part that caught my attention is at the very end of the article and the discussion on innovation working for younger brands, given the power of the internet and digital marketing. It doesn’t always come down to the size of your marketing budget these days. Good communication and a strong business model can help virtually anyone attain success.

#4 – “Foursquare: Why Making Things Complicated?” via Andy Joohyun Lee on LinkedIn  

Premise: Foursquare won the location-based services game years ago with badges and the power of data/information for discovery. With the move to break its business into two distinct brands/apps, there has been a mountain of negative press, including this write-up on LinkedIn from Andy Joohyun Lee.

Thoughts: We talked about this a bit in our last Sunday Musings as well. While this feels a little “birds in a feather…” I continue to see write-ups on the negative side of Foursquare’s decision to split its business in half between what is now Foursquare and Swarm. I am clearly not the only person that doesn’t enjoy having to use two apps. While I typically try to avoid the negativity seen in comments sections, take a look through the comments on this write-up. They are overwhelmingly negative to the split.

I’m interested to see how Foursquare responds to this by the fall. I’m more interested in their reaction to the negative feedback then the new logo and app updates they pushed out in July.

Tweet of the Week:

I would have never, ever guessed that Toby Keith would be the #1 celebrity entrepreneur and brand builder. Keith has extended his own brand name into his bar & grill – which now includes his own house drink (Wild Shot Mezcal) – and a clothing line. Forbes has selected Keith for their cover based on his ability to take his brand name, extend it into various product lines (that largely work together) and create a whale of success.

Below you will find a Slideshare that I found to be of interest for anyone that is interested in reading more on the basics of brand extensions, brand building and innovation.

 

Thanks for swinging by this week’s #SundayMusings! What do you think of brand extensions and how they alter a brand’s image? Let us know in the Comments section below. Have a great week!

Brand in Focus – Whole Foods

 

Brand in Focus - Whole Foods on ShoreBranding.com

Brand in Focus – Whole Foods on ShoreBranding.com

Our next “Brand in Focus” puts Whole Foods’ branding and digital marketing efforts under the microscope. The grocer has been growing here on the east coast and caught my eye over the past few months with its paid advertising efforts on Twitter and Facebook, announcing the grand opening of a new store in Marlboro, NJ. Digging into the company’s digital efforts there are a number of highlights and positives that caught my attention.

First, WholeFoodsMarket.com promotes its efforts across a number of social media sites, all of which we will tackle here. The landing page appeals to the eye with big, bold images scrolling behind the links. When you rollover the text on the left hand sidebar (below) you find a number of links to go to.

Whole Foods Site 1

Scrolling down on the home page you find several ecommerce vehicles, the promotion of some of their social media efforts, and a push towards their mobile – recipes app. I looked into downloading the app and quickly found that it is only available on iOS and not on Android.

Whole Foods Site 2

Getting over the fact that Whole Foods doesn’t have an app in Google’s Play market, let’s take a look at the brand’s efforts across social media platforms. At the time of this write-up, Whole Foods sees its largest following on Twitter, with slightly under 4 million followers. The company has almost 1.6 million Likes on Facebook. Across both visual / image-driven sites (Instagram and Pinterest), the grocer has ~200K followers on each. Finally, on Google’s platforms, Whole Foods has over 80K followers on Google+ and 18K subscribers to its YouTube station.

Here is a review of Whole Foods’ efforts on each platform:

Twitter:

Whole Foods again has a catchy visual as their banner picture on their Twitter page, along with the company’s logo as its default image, which is good for branding given the number of tweets the company is sending out on a daily basis.

Whole Foods Twitter 1

Excluding holidays where the company is not tweeting (and that’s a good thing in my opinion), the Whole Foods Twitter feed sends out about 10 tweets per day. What caught my attention is the branding that is used in their hashtags. Most tweets that include a hashtag start with “#WFM” and it carries across topics such as “Dish” and “Wine” below.

Whole Foods Twitter 2

The vast majority of links that the Twitter feed sends out reverts back to the company’s web site. They do a tremendous job of bringing their fans back to their own, highly engaging web site.

As mentioned above, what really brought my attention to Whole Foods was their targeted advertising campaign on Twitter – where their paid/promoted tweets wound up within my news feed, announcing the forthcoming grand opening of their new store in Marlboro, NJ. That was a good, albeit easy, use of targeting a particular message on the Twitter ad platform.

Facebook:

With an audience of about 1.6 million, Whole Foods does a great job of bringing visualization to its Facebook page – with connections/links to its Instagram and Pinterest accounts right on the main page. In the image below you’ll see the hashtag call out, which looks to be a seasonal update or change based on the calendar. One item that did catch my attention vs. other brands we have put under the radar is that Whole Foods does not put as much detail into their history on the far right, jumping from their “founded” date to 2008.

Whole Foods Facebook 1

The level of engagement Whole Foods sees on “regular” status updates (always with a picture/visual) is fair, with a couple hundred Likes and double digit shares. However, I noticed that when they posted a deal/sale, it was shared almost one thousand times and liked by 12K+ people …

Whole Foods Facebook 2

Similar to what the company does with their Twitter accounts, they let each Whole Foods store create their own Facebook page. One of the local stores here has their own page with over 10K likes.

Whole Foods Facebook 3

Instagram:

Whole Foods has the seamless transition over to Instagram from their Facebook page. Over 200K are following the retailer on the picture and video sharing network. On average, Whole Foods looks to upload one picture per day, so it isn’t or doesn’t become overbearing for its followers. What I like about the feed is that it isn’t always about food or their store, there are pictures that cover off on a healthy lifestyle, exercising, etc.

It looks like back in April of this year they ran a promotional effort (#FrantiTakeover) on the network for Earth Week. Again, a campaign or promotion that isn’t all about the brand, but extending itself in a way that stays within the brand’s overall image.

Whole Foods Instagram 1

Pinterest:

Whole Foods does a great job on the visual storyboard network, currently with 60 different boards across a bevy of different topics. It wasn’t until the Pinterest page that I finally got the “Whole Foods story” in their description at the top of the page – started in Austin, TX as one store and now a leader with over 340 in North America.

The image covers for each of their boards is colorful and appealing to the eye. They are centered correctly and there is enough of a contrast from board to board that grabs your attention as you scroll through their home page.

Whole Foods Pinterest 1

Don’t think for a second we won’t be watching their Thanksgiving boards in our efforts to #SaveThanksgiving in the coming months. This is just one of the boards that have been created for the holiday, which integrates their #FoodThanks hashtag campaign and is a group board that allows other Pinners to add their own images.

Whole Foods Pinterest 2

Google+:

A few items caught my attention on the Whole Foods G+ page. First, many of the posts were the same as their Facebook page, verbatim. While you can certainly post the same information, it felt like it was a copy paste from one network to the other and given the overall audience size, I would assume it goes from Facebook over to Google+.

However, I did like the in-depth “Story” that they provide on Google+ which includes their mission statement centering on “Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet”. Pictures that have been uploaded to G+ are unique to the site. There is also a seamless connection to the company’s YouTube page … however, the G+ page links to the incorrect YouTube page.

Whole Foods Google 1

YouTube:

The correct Whole Foods YouTube page has over 18K subscribers. However, the link off of the G+ page connects to a different Whole Foods YouTube page that has several Hangouts from a number of months ago. Focusing on the right page, Whole Foods brings a unique cover photo to YouTube and breaks down their videos into various categories, including recipes, local stories, and several others. The company has made the effort to create playlists for its subscribers so that if you have a particular interest, you can go in and watch the group of videos on the same subject.

Whole Foods YouTube 1

Whole Foods also connects subscribers to 8 other featured YouTube channels. This immediately felt like some good, old “brandscaping” efforts between Whole Foods and others.

Whole Foods YouTube 2

Overall Summary:

Whole Foods has caught the attention of many across social media and does a very good job of creating unique content across a lot of different mediums. They are on top of the latest features rolled out by each network and do a great job of creating visually stimulating posts and updates. Aside from that little snafu on the link from G+ to YouTube, Whole Foods gets an A for their digital marketing efforts!

What is your opinion of Whole Foods’ branding and digital marketing strategy across each network? Is there one network that you particularly follow them on or like their efforts more on? If so, why? Let us know in the Comments section below.

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 7-20-14

Branding and Digital Marketing

Branding and Digital Marketing

Welcome back to another #SundayMusings where this week’s focus will be on social media! This week I’ve picked out two write-ups that speak to social media broadly and then the remaining stories cover off specifically on my favorite social media platforms – Twitter, Google+, Foursquare, and Pinterest.  We’ll go into each in more detail below.

#1 – 5 Reasons Why Brands Need Integrated Social Media Marketing – via neerajsancheti.wordpress.com 

Premise: As integrated marketing plans become more and more regular across companies, it isn’t enough to be on one or two social media platforms. The author puts together five reasons why your brand or company needs to be on different platforms and where you should think about going.

Thoughts: There is a fine line between being everywhere and being in the right places. Many try to be everywhere in order to achieve the greatest ‘reach’. However, if you aren’t engaging with your customers / followers, what’s the point? At the same time, trying to be everywhere leaves you communicating with the wrong audience more times than not. So there are some points in the write-up that insinuate increasing visibility is the best thing you can do, and I would add the caveats before deciding to sign up for each and every social media platform.

#2 – Optimize Your Posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and More via busines2community.com  

Premise: Aside from creating great content, you need to figure out the best ways to optimize your posts in order to improve sharing across social media. The author takes a look across multiple platforms and provides tips on how to optimize your posts across NINE different networks – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, Vine, and Tumblr!

Thoughts: This is an excellent resource for those that enjoy clear, concise summaries and tips on what you can or should do when posting across social media. A few items that are worth calling out:

  • LinkedIn Tip to “Edit your description” – Completely agree here, as LinkedIn allows you to provide a summary of your article or link – similar to filling in the SEO on a blog. Use it!
  • Pinterest Tip to “Avoid human faces” – Very interesting stat and not something I would have ever thought about.
  • Vine Tip, “Infinite loop” – Vine clips that follow this rule are absolutely more engaging and will receive more views than those with closure.

#3 – “5 Brands Successfully Using Twitter GIFs” via Likeable.com 

Premise: Last month Twitter announced that it would now support GIF files in status updates and brands have been trying to capitalize ever since. Likeable takes a dive into what brands are successfully leveraging the new capability in their branding / digital marketing efforts.

Thoughts: It is a little interesting to see Twitter allow GIFs well after the fact that Vine has been introduced. This leads me to believe that there is some sort of dip in Vine usage, creativity, etc. that the company is seeing. The recent updates to the Vine app make it more appealing, but to be honest, I don’t check the app nearly as much as I used to.

In terms of the five brands/companies that are provided as good examples, I find that @SBNationGIF is a tremendous follow for sports fans. I also enjoyed the few Bud Light GIF’s found on their Twitter feed. What brands have you seen succeed on Twitter using GIF files?

#4 – “10 Google+ Features You Need to Know” via Michael Bird on LinkedIn 

Premise: Michael Bird puts together a list of ten Google+ functions that can help your branding efforts on the platform. This includes integrating with YouTube and several, more functional elements to optimizing your G+ efforts.

Thoughts: My second favorite social media platform, behind Twitter, has been adding features for users since its inception and the list provided here include several items that I really enjoy. The Google+ Auto Awesome creates fantastic GIFs on your phone automatically. If you take a handful of pictures right in a row, the feature will automatically create GIFs for you when you have Google+ connected to your camera phone.

There is also a deep integration between G+ and YouTube that can be taken advantage of among those with YouTube channels. You can broadcast your Hangouts on Air seamlessly and increase engagement / commenting between the two platforms.

#5 – “Why Foursquare Lost a Loyal User” via wearesocialmedia.gr 

Premise: The author was an avid user of Foursquare but admits to using the company’s services less and less since the launch of Swarm. Given the need to monetize, Foursquare split the functionality of the old Foursquare in half and left the check-ins and social aspects to Swarm. The author provides four points that argue against the splitting of the services that the old Foursquare provided.

Thoughts: Foursquare has been one of my favorite apps and since the launch of Swarm, I find myself frustrated with the back and forth needed to get what I want out of the service. I personally do not care about the badges, but I’m in alignment with all of the other points from the article. I hate having to open up two apps to get the information I want or need.

I understand why they broke up their services into two parts and I’m sure their data suggests that there is a majority of users that feel similarly. However, this write-up was actually a nice find, as I felt like I was in a small minority that didn’t like the new Foursquare/Swarm combination. What are your thoughts on the company’s decision to break these services apart?

Tweet of the Week:

I found the Embassy Suites Hotels contest as a “Promoted Tweet” on Twitter and thought that this was a great use of Pinterest. They have their own hashtag for the campaign and it felt like an engaging contest to get users to engage with the brand. Then I clicked on the link and it took me to their Facebook page and I was all sorts of confused. A Pinterest contest, promoted on Twitter, and then taken to their Facebook page?

Back to the contest itself: Pinterest has jumped into one of my favorite social media platforms and this is another great use of a contest and promotional effort from a brand on the network. What do you think of the campaign?

Thanks for swinging by this week’s #SundayMusings! What stories caught your attention this week in social media? Let us know in the Comments section below. Thanks and have a great week!

Pin of the Month – Brands on Twitter

Infographic from WSJ.com  (Link provided in write-up below)

Infographic from WSJ.com
(Link provided in write-up below)

July’s “Pin of the Month” actually takes a look at a somewhat dated infographic created by the Wall Street Journal back in December of 2011. I came across this graphic when doing some research for our next “Brand in Focus” (hint: it will be the brand that appears at the top of our “Pin of the Month”) and still feel that it is quite relevant today.

We have seen quite a few examples of brands and companies handing over their social media accounts to staff members, only to be forced into an uncomfortable situation and/or an apology due to poor online behaviors of said employees. This graphic takes a look at three brands / companies that “win” on Twitter with strong digital marketing efforts on the platform while giving only a select few the keys to the car on the network, becoming the voice of the brand for each.

Whole Foods, Southwest, and Best Buy are all using their Twitter handles to converse with their audience, building engagement and becoming an extremely useful resource for each. Each company uses Twitter in their own, unique way that has clearly resonated with fans and consumers.

Whole Foods tweets out recipes, tips, and acknowledges/responds to messages sent to its corporate account and was run by one person at the time the graphic was created. Each Whole Foods location can also create their own Twitter account, but is ultimately responsible for it on its own. What really caught my attention here is the number of followers reported on this infographic (2.1 million) vs. where they stand in July 2014 (3.7+ million). That shows exponential growth in their following on Twitter relative to the other brands shown in the graphic.

Southwest Airlines and Best Buy both have a team of employees that handle the questions that come from fans and followers. Both companies have grown marginally since the graphic was produced. While Southwest continues to leverage the platform to its advantage, Best Buy has abandoned the @Twelpforce account. You have to wonder who made this decision and why, as the company was receiving a ton of positive publications of the service. This seems to provide another example of what continues to go wrong with the company.

Are you interacting with any of these brands on Twitter … or have you in the case of Best Buy? What has been your experience? I personally love the direct connection with brands that Twitter provides. While you will tend to see a lot of grumbling on the network (self-included), there are certainly benefits to this type of connection and for brands that openly engage with its customers.

UPDATE 7/19:

GeekSquad saw this month’s “Pin of the Month” and reached out to me on Twitter.  You can see here that Best Buy has since broken out into separate Twitter accounts.  That really should have been their last tweet on the Twelpforce account to let everyone know what their plan was.  That said thanks to “Agent Derek” for reaching out to me and providing the appropriate information!

For those that may be unfamiliar with our Pin of the Month, each month we’ll be posting one of the better infographics, pictures, etc. that we typically find on our Pinterest page and (over-) analyzing it in a blog write-up. Follow Shore Branding on Pinterest for frequent updates across branding and digital-related information and infographics.

New Poll – What wearables are you planning to purchase in 2014?

What wearables will you be purchasing in 2014? (Photo credit: Diginomica.com)

What wearables will you be purchasing in 2014? (Photo credit: Diginomica.com)

Wearables are beginning to turn the corner in terms of consumer acceptance and adoption. The latest poll on ShoreBranding.com builds off of yesterday’s #SundayMusings and asks which wearable devices are you thinking about purchasing in 2014?

We have selected several of the most popular wearables for the poll but have also included a general “Other” for the many others that continue to pop up. Whether you are focusing on a smart band to track your physical fitness, or taking a step up to a full smartwatch … or even Google Glass, let us know what wearable devices are grabbing your attention and which you are most likely to purchase this year.

So which item, or items, are you going to purchase? You can choose from the iWatch, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear Smartwatch, LG’s G Watch, Nike FuelBand, Adidas Fit Band, and/or Google Glass. For those interested, let us know why you have selected the device you have.

Personally, I don’t see myself getting a smartwatch at this time. If Google Glass were to become more affordable down the road that is probably the wearable device I would most likely look to purchase.

Below is a presentation from SXSW regarding wearables that I found to be of interest.

Thanks for taking the time to vote! For more on wearables, you can keep an eye on our “Technology” Pinterest board.

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 7-6-14

Photo Credit: CBS Philadelphia

Photo Credit: CBS Philadelphia

Happy 4th of July weekend to those of you celebrating in the US and welcome back to another #SundayMusings where this week’s focus will be on wearables! Wearables are beginning to build traction with consumers, well beyond what I tend to consider the starting point of fitness programs and apps. Let’s take a look at some of the better write-ups I’ve found over the past few weeks that revolve around wearables.

#1 – Why Wearable Technology Matters in 2014 – via Likeable.com 

Premise: The wearables market is expected to double in 2014 to exceed $1.5 billion, according to Juniper Research. This presents new ways for brands to interact with consumers in varying ways. The author provides three reasons why wearables should be considered in your marketing plan moving forward.

Thoughts: Three very straightforward reasons are provided and I agree with all of them. First and foremost, to me at least, is the ability to get ahead of competition. There are a handful of major players in the space right now, but that’s it. Are you a brand struggling to turn around your archaic image? Looking for a way to become seen as a modern, innovative brand or company? You may want to consider how you can get involved in wearables.

One brand that comes to mind immediately is Radio Shack. You may remember their ad during the Super Bowl (below as well). The ad was intended to move the company’s image out of the 1980’s and into the present. Wearables might be a market worth diving into to try to continue moving the pendulum.

#2 – A 10-sensor iWatch say’s Apple’s smartwatch will be nothing like Android Wear via PCWorld.com 

Premise: It is being reported that Apple’s iWatch will include 10 sensors that will help those more interested in their own health. This strategy, if true, makes the iWatch very different than the Android smartwatches that are rolling out with Google Now. Google’s smartwatch is focused on the world around you – weather, travel, sports scores, etc. Apple’s iWatch is expected to be released this fall with somewhere between 10-15 million units available by the end of the year.

Thoughts: This would be an interesting approach by Apple and certainly takes the brand in a different direction vs. Google when it comes to wearables. It is actually a little refreshing to see two different visions for a similar product between the two companies, as many/most launches seem to be more duplicative.

What are your thoughts on wearing a smartwatch? Will you be considering a purchase in the near future? Personally, I can’t justify the purchase as I don’t think I’ll use it enough. If I were interested in tracking my movement for my personal health, I’d be much more inclined to think about it.

#3 – “Will Adidas beat Nike in the wearables game with its new miCoach Fit Smart Band” via ShinyShiny.TV 

Premise: Adidas is putting another stake in the ground on wearable fitness with its forthcoming Smart Band. With Nike’s decision to concentrate more on the software side of wearables, Adidas has the ability to distinguish itself in a new, but growing market.

Thoughts: Beyond their World Cup battles, Adidas and Nike are drawing lines in the sand on how they want to position themselves in the wearables market. As mentioned in #1 above, very few brands are legitimately playing in this space, so if Adidas can develop a product that consumers can trust, they may find themselves in a very lucrative position.

#4 – “Health Wearables To Save You Visits to the Doctor” via alleywatch.com  

Premise: WSJ produced a short video that interviewed Singularity University’s Daniel Kraft on what the future may look like when thinking about wearables and your personal health. From patches to devices that attach to your inhaler, technology is going to play a huge role in your personal health.

Thoughts: First, I want to implore WSJ.com to start allowing viewers the ability to embed online videos. What year is this again?

With that out of the way, I found this to be highly interesting. The ability to use mobile attachments to scan parts of your body and send the information to your doctor immediately is incredible to me. I realize that this probably freaks some people out, but this is fascinating in my opinion. I do get a little bothered about how much reporters focus on how they “look” vs. the capability itself. For those needing to track their physical health and/or ailments more regularly, closing comments like those made in the clip/link above create unnecessary barriers for people to get over.

Below is another story that makes a strong connection between personal health and wearables:

#5 – “Here’s what Google’s Android Wear can do” via engadget.com  

Premise: At Google I/O, the company took another huge step in committing to the wearables market. As part of the demo, Google announced that the new smartwatches can sync to phones running Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) or higher. Through a Google Now-like card system, you can bring up the information that is more critical to you and your day. Third-party apps will be heavily engrained in the system, including Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. The new LG and Samsung watches were made available to order in the Google Play store on the day of the I/O conference.

Thoughts: You knew I wouldn’t end a #SundayMusings without an article specific to Google and Android, right? If there were to be a smartwatch purchase somewhere down the line in my future, it would have to be one that is based on Android’s system.

Tweet of the Week:

An interesting discussion from #CEWeek if you have a few minutes. (Note, you may have to blast your speakers after the opening credits.) The “Nametag” technology took things a step further than I’m comfortable with. However, it was certainly an interesting demo and discussion around the 27 minute mark on augmented vs. virtual reality.

Thanks again for checking out another edition of Shore Branding’s #SundayMusings! Are you thinking about purchasing at least one of these wearable products? Have you already? Let us know what you think in the Comments section below. Have a great week!

Loyalty to Brands – Honda

The Honda logo Loyalty to Brands on ShoreBranding.com

The Honda logo
Loyalty to Brands on ShoreBranding.com

The next in our series of “Loyalty to Brands” focuses on a brand that I’ve been loyal to since my late teenage years, the automaker Honda. What started off as a friend’s recommendation in college has wound up lasting 15+ years and four vehicles. Building off of last week’s #SundayMusings we are continuing the focus on the auto industry this weekend.

Needing a new car for my summer vacation and to get to and from work, a simple recommendation from a friend sent me on my way to a Honda dealership. Given the need for a car with strong MPG and having little need for more room, it was an easy decision to go with the Honda Civic. Fast forward several years and the fact that my brother needed a car, I “upgraded” to my first Honda Accord and gave him the Civic.

It was here that my true loyalty to Honda was created. At the dealership (Coast Honda) I quickly realized that one of the salesmen was the father of a fraternity brother of mine. This made the purchase process that much easier for everyone involved. I walked away with a 2002 Honda Accord and that car lasted about 8 years and 125,000 miles.

After hitting that threshold it was time to make a decision, put more than regular maintenance into the car for the foreseeable future or purchase a new car. I went with the latter and went right back to Coast Honda for the sale. This Accord will likely remain with the family until it is time to upgrade … and if it isn’t another Accord in my future, it will more than likely be the CRV SUV.

Aside from the fantastic customer service I receive specifically at Coast Honda, there are a number of additional reasons that I love Honda’s cars:

  1. Reliability
  2. Gas mileage
  3. Style (internal and external)
  4. Price/Value
  5. Storage room
  6. Safety features

Cars tend to bring out a lot of emotion in some people. I’m not one of them. I want a vehicle that I can rely on to get me from point A to point B and one that doesn’t need to be in the shop every month. Honda’s vehicles have been doing this for me for the better part of 15 years. It would take quite a lot to get me to move to another automobile manufacturer (read: free car or an abysmal drop-off from Honda over the coming years).

Are you loyal to a particular automaker? If so, which one? My recommendation would be to take a look across Honda’s portfolio to see if there is a vehicle for you …

Which Honda is right for you?  Take a look on Honda.com

Which Honda is right for you? Take a look on Honda.com

If you have a brand or service that you consider yourself loyal to and are interested in guest blogging on ShoreBranding.com, please do reach out and let me know via the Comments section below or through the Contact page. You can find our other “Loyalty to Brands” write-ups here.