Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 11-23-14

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding - Thanksgiving Edition (Photo Credit: GlowRockport.wordpress.com)

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – Thanksgiving Edition
(Photo Credit: GlowRockport.wordpress.com)

This week’s #SundayMusings is near and dear to our heart as we focus on the Thanksgiving holiday and Thanksgiving branding efforts made around the country.  For those that don’t already know, we have set up SaveThanksgiving.net in an effort to keep the holiday alive and with our respective friends and family; not at the mall and shopping for holiday sales.  That is what “Black Friday” and beyond is for.  Without going on any further of a tangent, here are the top stories that caught our eyes over the past couple of weeks related to Thanksgiving.

#1 – “How Your Favorite Thanksgiving Brands Got Their Names” – via mascola.com

Premise: Interested in learning how brands that are likely around your Thanksgiving table got their names?  The Mascola Group puts together a list of six brands that are commonly used for Thanksgiving meals and tells their story of how each came to be.

Thoughts: There aren’t any off the wall names or stories behind the names here among the six.  However, and it is potentially sad to admit this, I had no idea that Ore-Ida got its name being located in Oregon and next to Idaho (potatoes).  You really can learn something new every day.

#2 – “Brand of the Day: No, Costco Won’t Be Open on Thanksgiving, and Here’s Why” via AdWeek.com

Premise: Costco won’t be open on Thanksgiving Day, with a spokesperson for the retailer saying, “Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season, and we simply believe they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families. Nothing more complicated than that”.

Thoughts: You knew we were going to go here quickly, right?  Costco is one of a slowly decreasing number of retailers that remain closed on Thanksgiving Day and will continue to win my business because of this stance.  The creep of Black Friday into Thanksgiving Day makes my stomach turn.  You can find a list of retailers that won’t be opening their doors on Thanksgiving here or simply right here …

#SaveThanksgiving - Visit SaveThanksgiving.net for more info

#SaveThanksgiving – Visit SaveThanksgiving.net for more info

#3 – “7 Brilliant Brand Tactics for Thanksgiving + Inspiring Examples” via LeanBranding.com

Premise: A compilation of seven ideas that leverage the Thanksgiving holiday to spark conversation and conversion to brands.  From offering a holiday gift and hosting a meetup, Wix receives a lot of attention in the write-up, pulling out the stops around the holiday in past years.

Thoughts: Terrific examples are provided throughout the article and for each tip on how to leverage the holiday to build a little buzz for your brand.  My favorites – “Share some humor” and “Support a cause”.  I’m absolutely grabbing those memes that were created by IMPACT.  I also remember seeing a lot of support from Zynga two years ago around their holiday fundraising campaign but never saw the final numbers from their efforts ($13 million raised).  Impressive!

#4 – “Five Thanksgiving Inspired Brand Building Tips” via BrandMill.com

Premise: A quick and easy read on five tips that will help your brand distinguish itself this holiday season.  The underlying theme behind all of this – breaking out the word Thanksgiving into two parts, “thanks” and “giving”.  Show your customers and/or partners that you care about them and go the extra mile to win their support.

Thoughts: One additional piece that caught my here (as well as in the story above) revolves around giving back to a cause and the brands that take the time to set up some type of fundraising effort for those less fortunate.  Why? …

We’ve done exactly the same thing and set up an online food drive with Feeding America this year.  We’re calling it our #SaveThanksgiving food drive.  If you have the resources, please consider donating to help others who struggle to get by.

#5 – “Black Friday Creep and the Thanksgiving Day Grinch: 2014 Edition” via BrandChannel.com

Premise: The continuing battle of if or when retailers will open their doors on Thanksgiving Day takes another step forward in 2014.  A number of retailers, including Macy’s, have announced extended hours on Thanksgiving vs. prior years.  This has led to an outcry from employees, online petitions, and even protests.

Thoughts: Does opening your doors on Thanksgiving Day really make that much of a difference to your bottom line?  Do you really need to be open on the holiday itself?  As linked in the write-up, this piece in TIME says it could actually harm your brand.

What actually gets me the most perplexed is the example of Macy’s provided in the story.  Macy’s hosts the NYC Thanksgiving Day Parade?!  How are their leaders not in tune with what the holiday is and means to thousands around the country?  It feels counterintuitive to be the sponsor of the holiday parade and continue to open your stores earlier and earlier on the holiday.

Finally, here is one example of an online petition to fight against store hours on the holiday from Radio Shack employees, who has since trimmed their hours but will still open on Thanksgiving.  The team over at TackBackThanksgiving.org has been updating their Facebook page consistently over the past few weeks on their planned events to help #SaveThanksgiving.

Tweet of the Week:

Shameless plug?  Perhaps.  Meaningful?  Absolutely.  Our #SaveThanksgiving efforts continue to roll on Twitter and Pinterest.  Take a look through, follow, share, etc. and help #SaveThanksgiving.

For those that may be able to, we have set up an online food drive through Feeding America for donations.  You can read more about the efforts here or visit the online food drive page directly.

That wraps up this week’s holiday edition of #SundayMusings.  For those of you in the US, please enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday!  (Please do not run out at 9am to go shopping Thanksgiving morning … #SaveThanksgiving!!)

Pin of the Month – Thanksgiving

November's "Pin of the Month" - Thanksgiving Football. Help #SaveThanksgiving Infographic by: StatoGraphics

November’s “Pin of the Month” – Thanksgiving Football. Help #SaveThanksgiving
Infographic by: StatoGraphics

Did you really have any doubt that our “Pin of the Month” for November would have something to do with Thanksgiving.  Our #SaveThanksgiving efforts are once again in full swing this month.  However, we’re focusing on Thanksgiving football with November’s “Pin of the Month”, created by Statographics.

The tradition of Thanksgiving football has lived in our homes since 1920.  This infographic provides an in-depth look at that history, providing key dates for the 95 year tradition.  Sidenote: I wonder what type of plans the NFL will put into place when we celebrate a century of Thanksgiving Day games.  Hopefully, it does not include putting more games on during the holiday itself … although it probably will.

A few items within the infographic were newsworthy for me:

  • The only time the NFL has not played on Thanksgiving Day since 1920 was from 1941-1944 due to World War II.
  • The Detroit Lions have played on Thanksgiving Day since 1935.  The Dallas Cowboys didn’t start playing on the holiday until 1966 – that was surprising to me.
  • The last two expansion teams – the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers – are the only teams to have have never played on Thanksgiving Day.

While the NFL continues to drive me further and further away from being a loyal fan due to focusing on the almighty dollar vs. the fan experience, it is a Thanksgiving tradition to watch the the Cowboys and Lions each and every year.

For those unfamiliar with our “Pin of the Month”, every month we post one of the better infographics, pictures, etc. that we find on our Pinterest page and (over-) analyzing it our “Pin of the Month”.  If you have an infographic that you would like to promote here on Shore Branding, just let us know.  Thanks!

As you may also know, our #SaveThanksgiving efforts can be found on SaveThanksgiving.net.  If you have a story to share on what the holiday means to you, please do send it our way so that we can post it on the site.  On the site you will also find an online food drive through Feeding America, an online petition to #SaveThanksgiving and a lot more Thanksgiving Fun!

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 11-9-14

Branding and Digital Marketing

Branding and Digital Marketing

Welcome back to another edition of #SundayMusings w/ Shore Branding.  Our focus this week will be on brand loyalty and the customer experience.  This builds off of October’s “Pin of the Month” and the continuation of our “Loyalty to Brands” series.  Here are the top stories from the past few weeks that caught my attention.

#1 – “Amazon CEO Wants to Make Holidays Easier and Stress-free for Customers” – via Loyalty360.org

Premise: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has issued a promise to Amazon’s customers that the company will be focusing on the customer experience throughout the holiday season.  Beyond competitive pricing, Amazon will have 15K Lightning Deals, gift lists, updated product lineups and the ability to to make purchases and contribute a portion to your preferred charity.

Amazon announced a slew of new tech products for the holidays, including new Kindles and Fire tablets.  There is a focus on kid friendly content and products.  Amazon Prime members will continue to reap additional benefits through early access to sales and exclusive deals on MyHabit.com.

Thoughts: As mentioned in our latest “Loyalty to Brands”, Amazon has become my go-to retailer and is where I continue to increase my share of wallet for holiday shopping.  I can’t think of another store or retailer where customer support has made it easier and more customer friendly than what Bezos has done with Amazon.

#2 – “Starbucks to offer delivery in 2015 in some key markets” via Fortune.com

Premise: Starbucks plans to offer up home/desk delivery of coffee and food orders through its mobile app in 2015 in select cities.  This idea is the latest effort by the coffee maker / experience provider to improve customer loyalty.  It is the latest in an effort to increase / improve consumption with its customers.

Thoughts: The coffee chain continues to create ways to drive stronger customer experiences and loyalty.  I found the focus or call-out that this delivery service would be driven through mobile devices to be an interesting side story to the announcement, i.e. “You can have Starbucks deliver your coffee, but you will need to download our mobile app.”  The other piece that I really like about this news is that the chain continues to try to break the mold and explore new and exciting options.  Do they all pan out?  Of course not, but Starbucks’ leadership team is more than willing to explore different routes with customer loyalty always in mind.

#3 – “NFL’s Seattle Seahawks Get CX Lift with Extreme Networks Enhancements: “Can you hear the 12th Man now?”” via Loyalty360.org

Premise: Extreme Network Inc. recently announced a partnership with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks club and Verizon Wireless to build a more powerful Wi-Fi connection at CenturyLink Field – the home of the franchise.  Beyond improving the signal strength at the stadium there is a program called “Eye of the Hawk” which allows fans to document their experience at the stadium.  Fans can choose various camera angles to watch/stream the game from various perspectives.

Thoughts: Attending a live sporting event is becoming less and less about the product on the field/court and more about the overall fan experience.  Technology is obviously playing a huge role in this shift.  With billion dollar stadiums seemingly popping up all over the country, it isn’t enough to just have a nice structure, franchises must keep the fan experience in mind through every little detail along the way.  We’re probably still in the infant stages of where this is heading, but it sure does pique my interest.

#4 – “If You Think 2014 Brought Marketing Change…” via Engage.Tibco.com

Premise: In 2014 there was a shift towards listening to and knowing your customer, but 2015 will continue to make dramatic changes to how we think about marketing.  That shift will be towards knowing what your customer will do next.  Anticipating behaviors will help you/your brand build stronger customer loyalty.  While we are moving beyond straight, single source data, it will be important for your brand to understand how to leverage big data from various sources.

Thoughts: Marketing strategies continue to be rewritten as we move further and further away from traditional marketing.  Plans that are put in place continue to be redesigned to strengthen customer engagement and loyalty.  The ability for a brand or company to learn and react to data from various sources is critical in today’s marketplace.

How many data sources are you currently relying on?  Are you weaving that story together across multiple channels?  These are critical elements to running your brand in 2014 and into 2015.

#5 – “Using Big Data To Shape Brand Experiences” via BrandingStrategyInsider.com

Premise: Depending on how brands are using it, big data can help create customized solutions and programs for customers.  Using Tesco as an example, it isn’t just about collecting data and analyzing it in a straightforward manner anymore.  You have to create actionable insights that can help you build stronger experiences for your customers.

Thoughts: Continuing down a ‘big data’ them here and how brands can or should leverage big data to drive better customer experiences.  I thought the Tesco example was a pretty powerful one as the UK retailer literally helped write the book on loyalty programs.  There is also an interesting graphic in the write-up, with several key stats/figures that would help build stronger loyalty and behaviors from shoppers.  The data source states that 85% of customers are more likely to shop in stores that offer personalized coupons and exclusive in-store offers. 

#6 – “2014 Customer Champions: Lifting Sights, Visions, and Standards” via 1to1Media.com

Premise: 1to1 Media has an annual awards for companies/people that create game-changing customer-focused strategies.  This year’s winners have been announced and include employees of The Melting Pot, JetBlue and more.  All in all, twelve people/companies were given awards for their efforts this year.  Through their own creative ways, each company has put a system in place to maximize the customer experience.

Thoughts: The full list of winners can be found here.  The one brand that caught my attention here is 1-800-Flowers as I recently signed up for their loyalty program and find it to be incredibly well run with perks that make it feel very much worth my while.

Kudos to 1to1 Media for continuing this awards program for a decade now.

Tweet of the Week:

Actually set up very much like our #SundayMusings, you can keep an eye on the top stories in customer service and experience through this tweet, bookmark the site, etc.

That wraps up this week’s #SundayMusings.  What are your thoughts on customer experience and how that helps build brand advocacy?  How have brand ambassadors helped your brand grow?  How can you better work with these people moving forward?

Let us know in the comments below.  Have a great week ahead!

Loyalty to Brands – Amazon

"Loyalty to Brands" focusing on Amazon.com

“Loyalty to Brands” focusing on Amazon.com

By a show of virtual hands, who has shopped on Amazon in the past week?  That’s what I figured and the leader in ecommerce is our focus in the latest “Loyalty to Brands”.  Founded in 1994 as an online bookstore, Amazon has become much, much more over the years.  There isn’t much out there for sale that you can’t get on Amazon.  Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos continues to run the show at the Seattle-based giant, finding new and exciting ways to expand Amazon’s portfolio.

So what has driven my brand loyalty to Amazon?  While price is an added benefit, it is not my number one driver.  The convenience of shopping on Amazon drives my loyalty.  Specifically, Amazon Prime has made my life so much easier.  It is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the best $99 I spend every year.  With two day shipping on the majority of purchases, I know that I’m getting what I want/need in a timely manner.  If said item doesn’t meet my needs, returns and exchanges cause virtually no pain or anguish.  Over the past five years or so, I would estimate that at least 80% of my holiday shopping is done on Amazon.  In just November and December, the Amazon Prime subscription fee pays for itself.  Tech gifts, clothes, K-cups, and on and on, the list continues to grow each and every year.

What else makes Amazon appealing?  Well, with a baby in the household, Amazon Mom has been a big help in both price and convenience.  The “subscribe and save” option for diapers and numerous other products takes one less thing off my plate to try to remember.  The item shows up on a regularly scheduled frequency and I never have to think about it.  As an added bonus, you can cancel your subscription at any time.

Amazon Mom (via Babble.com)

Amazon Mom (via Babble.com)

As a final straw in building my loyalty, Amazon has made a commitment to the technology space.  What started off as a black and white e-reader and its Kindle business, Amazon has grown leaps and bounds over the past few years.  While I remain loyal to Google for their phones and tablets, a Fire tablet is likely on its way soon.  This would be a second Amazon Fire product, as Fire TV was an immediate purchase when launched and has since replaced Roku in this household.  If you are looking for a streaming device, I have no hesitation in recommending Fire TV.  All of the major apps are there, you are automatically enrolled in Prime for one year, and you can save all of your information in their cloud.

Fire TV (Sarah Tew / CBS Interactive)

Fire TV (Sarah Tew / CBS Interactive)

How often are you using Amazon?  At the very least, are you comparative shopping by checking to see what is available on Amazon and how much it costs relative to the store you are standing in?

If you have a brand or service that you consider yourself loyal to and are interested in guest blogging on Shore Branding, please do reach out and let me know via the Comments section below or through the Contact page.

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 10-26-14

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding! (Photo credit: Worth1000.com)

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding!
(Photo credit: Worth1000.com)

This week’s #SundayMusings focuses on a topic that doesn’t get as much publicity as it probably should across social media.  Building brand advocacy and brand ambassadors is an immensely powerful channel to growing your brand or company.  Their ability to promote your brand to a broader audience, while aiding your word-of-mouth advertising can go a long way towards success.  The following stories caught my attention over the past few weeks.

#1 – Find Brand Ambassadors by Monitoring Social Media – via DigitalDoughnut.com

Premise: Social Media Week was two weeks ago and coming out of that was a real good example of why you need to be monitoring social media and how to take advantage of it.  There are at least a couple of ways that you can help strengthen your relationship with brand ambassadors through social media.  The author also quotes a few numbers from one particular event during Social Media Week, saying that 22% of ‘fans’ are ambassadors and 55% of ambassadors aren’t following said brand on their social media.

Thoughts: Interesting example provided in this write-up about a company having no idea what was being said about them and missing the opportunity to engage with a potential brand ambassador.  It happens all of the time.  The three tips on how or where to celebrate ambassadors all make sense.  You simply need to pick the route that you are comfortable with and stick with it over time.

#2 – “Making the Leap From Brand Ignorance to Brand Advocacy” via smeweb.com 

Premise: It is hard enough to get people to notice your brand, but it is just as hard to turn people over to become advocates for your brand/company.  This is particularly true for new brands and market entrants.  The author puts together three steps (or jobs) for new brands/products to manufacture brand advocacy.

Thoughts: This write-up is specific to products that live on a shelf, but very interesting nonetheless.  The first two steps are standing out on shelf at the first moment of truth and driving a level of desirability with potential consumers.  That’s all well and good and heavily relies on packaging and staying up to speed on market trends.

The third step is all about building that brand advocacy through a story that people can connect with and be willing to share with their friends, family, and/or audience.  Their enthusiasm for your story and your brand can lead to endless ripples of success.

#3 – “The secret to getting me to become your brand advocate” via businessesgrow.com 

Premise: Mark Schaefer believes that influence marketing has become a nuisance and offers up several tips and ideas for how to get your brand or product mentioned on his blog.  Interested in having Mark become an ambassador for your product?  Simply put, make it worth his while, be willing to spend the appropriate amount of time and show/create the value your product offers.

Thoughts: Great thoughts and feedback from Mark Schaefer here that can be reapplied to virtually any arena, i.e. product, service, and/or brand.  The first time reading through this write-up I thought to myself that he was looking to be paid for his time … and then, he came out and simply said that at the end of #3.  Honesty goes a long way in my book.  Speaking of books, this article puts another read into my queue as I’m not interested in checking out his book, “Return on Influence”.  

#4 – Why Social Employee Brand Advocate Programs Power Up Your Brand via SocialZoomFactor.com 

Premise: A 13 minute podcast from Pam Moore that takes a look into the importance of building brand advocacy among/through your employees and focuses on how to do so.  Through a partnership with Everyone Social, a new series is beginning to provide tips and support on how to build a better brand advocacy program with your employees.

Thoughts: To close out this week’s #SundayMusings let’s pivot out of building external brand ambassadors and focus on building them from within your own doors.  Employee engagement is critical to your long term success.  Employees are, or should be, your greatest asset.

While I have yet to participate, I would recommend keeping an eye on the “#Getrealchat” that tackles subjects like this on Twitter.  There is a good amount of communication going on and a lot of interesting feedback on each topic.  These chats happen every Tuesday night on Twitter.

Tweet of the Week:

While this week’s ‘Tweet of the Week’ links to an article that was posted two years ago, the article and content itself remains relevant.  The author puts together a quick summary on why advocacy is important, driving and identifying your brand ambassadors, and several (good) ideas regarding building an advocacy program.

Branderati put together the slideshare presentation above that includes twenty great quotes when thinking about brand advocacy and brand ambassadors.  My personal favorites are on slide 4 from Joe Chernov and slide 12 from Dave Kerpen.  What is your favorite quote here?

That wraps up this week’s #SundayMusings.  What are your thoughts on brand advocacy?  How have brand ambassadors helped your brand grow?  How can you better work with these people moving forward?

Let us know in the comments below.  Have a great week ahead!

Pin of the Month – Brand Advocates

October's "Pin of the Month" focuses on the importance of brand advocates.  Infographic by BzzAgent

October’s “Pin of the Month” focuses on the importance of brand advocates. Infographic by BzzAgent

Our October “Pin of the Month” comes to us from BzzAgent and research conducted by Dr. Kathleen R. Ferris-Costa.  The research provides data behind the power of building brand advocacy and turning consumers into advocates for your brand, product, and/or company.

Brand advocates help build word of mouth advertising for your brand and are influencers in the purchase cycle for their audience, followers, family and friends.  The infographic takes a look at the power of brand advocates and why they are so important to have.  So why is it important to build, maintain, and leverage brand advocates to help with your branding efforts?

The infographic caught my eye due to having data behind every recommendation.  Breaking down the data into three sections – Habitat, Behaviors, and Motivations – BzzAgent points out the benefits under all three umbrellas.  Brand advocates are going to use social media and build their audience, they are going to create their own content and help promote your brand for you, and they are going to continue to share said content with their growing audience.

If you are looking for continuous support and “free” publicity, embrace brand advocates and let them become ambassadors for your brand.  Consider rewarding them with some type of perk and watch their support continue to grow over time, which in turn helps grow your audience and amount of support.

The data within this month’s “Pin of the Month” illustrates the power behind building brand advocates.  They are exponentially more likely to help you improve your standing with a broader audience and will continue to support you / your brand over time.

Are you focusing too much on winning new customers and not enough time retaining your current customer base?  Do you have someone that will step up to bat for you and help promote your brand or business?  Building brand ambassadors is an important piece to the puzzle that is ignored all too often.

Every month we post one of the better infographics, pictures, etc. that we find on our Pinterest page and (over-) analyzing it our “Pin of the Month”.  If you have an infographic that you would like to promote here on Shore Branding, just let us know.  Thanks!

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 10-12-14

Branding and Digital Marketing

Branding and Digital Marketing

Welcome to another edition of #SundayMusings – the top news and stories that caught our attention from the past few weeks.  We have wrapped up our focus on LinkedIn and this week’s musings take us back to the core principle of branding.  Here are several branding-related stories that caught our attention:

#1 – 10 Social Media Mistakes That Could Be Hurting Your Brand – via HuffingtonPost.com

Premise: The vast majority of Americans are on social media which means your brand needs to be there (somewhere) too.  However, one mistake can be costly.  The writer puts together a list of 10 common mistakes that have been made in the past and continue to be made seemingly on a regular basis.

Thoughts: Interested in annoying your audience?  Do you want to cost your brand the equity that has been built over a long period of time in 140 characters or less?  If you answered “No” to these questions, you probably want to check out this list as, at the very least, a good reminder of what not to do with your brand’s social media pages and/or presence.

My “favorite” one here is #3 – “Getting too personal” and the examples from Amy’s Baking Compnay and KitchenAid.  You might want to take a step back from the keyboard before posting anything remotely similar to the meltdowns these brands had in the past.

#2 – “Six great automotive content marketing campaigns” via econsultancy.com 

Premise: The author has found six examples of various content marketing efforts being made by automakers.  The efforts themselves are largely different and go across various mediums.

Thoughts: What I loved about this article right from the beginning is the author’s comment, “I’m not sure I’ve ever been able to properly define content marketing …”.  That is a nice synopsis of my thoughts on the niche that has become content marketing.  It is branding.  No, really, it is.

The efforts of two automakers caught my eye here.  The Nissan Leaf community is a great way to bring together current (or past) owners of the car to provide honest feedback.  The other is Honda’s YouTube channel, Honda Stage.  I’ve mentioned my loyalty to Honda in the past so this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.  Partnering with various music brands that are relevant to a younger audience will/should help Honda gain and build brand salience with present and future car purchasers.

#3 – “The 13 Steps to Content Marketing Success” via ClickZ.com 

Premise: Success in content marketing builds value in your overall company – whether that be through customer engagement, sales, or elsewhere.  The author puts together a list of tips for consideration when drawing up your content marketing plan and how to measure its success.  From ‘setting a goal’ through bringing your content marketing efforts to life, following these steps will help increase your chances of success.

Thoughts: Here we are again with ‘content marketing’.  The beginning four steps here are critical to your success.  While many of the middle steps listed here are straightforward, there is also an important stage at the end of the writer’s list to consider.  #11 – ‘Set up tracking’ is an important element if you want to better understand where your viewers are coming from and can help you adjust your current efforts or note for future efforts.  

#4 – Adweek’s Top 5 Commercials of the Week via Adweek.com 

Premise: At the end of every work week, Adweek compiles a list of the top ads.  Last week’s ads included ones from GE, Strongbow, Starbucks, Volvo, and Dove.  Readers can vote for their favorites on a weekly basis.

Thoughts: If you don’t have this bookmarked or in your Feedly feed, you probably should.  What caught my eye about last week’s ads were the first three in this list.  GE’s ad with Jeff Goldblum is so bizarre I still don’t know what to think about it.  See below, as I had to put in this write-up so that it isn’t a click away.

The same agency that worked on Heineken-owned Newcastle Brown Ale is at it again with another brand under the Heineken umbrella – Strongbow.  This ad cracked me up.  The Starbucks ad is the brand’s first global campaign, which actually surprised me that it has taken this long for a more broadly distributed campaign.

Tweet of the Week:

Interbrand’s 2014 “Best Global Brands” report is out and you need to take a look.  Follow the link in the Twitter ad above to the landing page of the report.  If you scroll down to the bottom of the page you will find all of the content that was put together for this year’s report.  This includes the list itself (which highlights the top risers year over year), the methodology, interviews, etc.  There is a tremendous amount of information here to digest and is well worth the time.  Enjoy!

What news or stories caught your eye this week?  Enjoy your Sunday and have a great week ahead!

Eight Tips When Leveraging LinkedIn Company Pages

LinkedIn Company Pages

As we close #LinkedInMonth (plus) here on Shore Branding, it is time to look at several LinkedIn Tips for building your company page on the network.  We previously looked at improving your own, personal page on LinkedIn but now it is time to focus on business pages.  Several tips are similar in concept, but LinkedIn has rolled out new features that only business pages can take advantage of.

Here are eight tips to improving your business/company page on LinkedIn.

#1 – Maximize the information you put on your profile & consider some of LinkedIn’s special offerings

Provide all of the pertinent information in your company description – who you are and what you do, your company history, corporate portfolio, and a link to your web site.  List your specialties to help with appearing in search within LinkedIn and provide any type of unique selling point (USP) that you would typically promote anywhere else.

Are you looking to hire?  Post your job opening(s) directly on your LinkedIn page and track who and how many people are responding to each posting.

LinkedIn used to have “Products” and “Services” tabs as well but they have since removed this information from company pages.  However, they now provide a “Showcase page” where you can focus your message and target others with your core capabilities.  Take your USP’s and build pages for them, providing enough depth and breadth for others to notice.

LinkedIn Showcase Page

#2 – Publish regularly scheduled content on LinkedIn

Whether or not your company has a blog page, leverage your LinkedIn network to promote your work, white papers, PR, etc.  Update your status on some type of regular basis … whether you commit yourself to a daily, weekly, or monthly update/post, stay true to form over time.  Publishing your material to LinkedIn allows you another avenue to promote your expertise.

Beyond this, make sure you have some type of consistent branding on your posts.  It can be as simple as your brand logo at the top of each page/slide or you can leverage an appropriate color scheme, hashtag, etc.  Add some consistency for your audience.

#3 – Target your status updates 

Have a fragmented audience or do you offer up a number of services?  LinkedIn now allows you to target your status updates by company size, industries, job functions and more.  This obviously says a lot about the data available on the LinkedIn servers and your ability to target down to the right audience.

Targeting your audience on LinkedIn has never been easier!

Targeting your audience on LinkedIn has never been easier!

#4 – Start a LinkedIn group and participate in others 

Vastly similar to what is recommended for personal branding on LinkedIn, this is yet another area and opportunity to promote your core competencies and expertise.  Groups are an invaluable resource for many LinkedIn users and you can find/connect with like minds, while also seeing what your competitors might be suggesting in your space.

Starting a group is another aspect for consideration, allowing you to regularly moderate the group, initiate and steer discussions, etc.

#5 – Leverage SlideShare

Have sales sheets, infographics, training materials, business goals, and more?  Drop any shareable information into SlideShare and upload the information to your profile – whether it be part of your regularly scheduled updates or within your company description, SlideShare adds a level of visual appeal and helps break up the text on your business profile.

#6 – Stay up to date on the latest LinkedIn innovations

As mentioned above, LinkedIn is continually tweaking their offering on both personal and business pages.  As these options are deployed, figured out what makes the most sense for your business page and what you are most comfortable with.

For the latest and greatest news, bookmark this page on LinkedIn.  As you will see in that link, occasionally there isn’t an update to company pages for weeks and months.  However, looking at April and May 2014, there are also times where LinkedIn is continually updating their features.

#7 – Use LinkedIn’s analytics tools

LinkedIn continues to update and improve its analytics offering.  This will allow you to help track your audience on a daily/weekly basis and to begin to understand how your efforts on the platform are paying off (or aren’t).  You’ll understand both reach and engagement on each of your updates and in total.  One of the more powerful pieces of the analytics tool is the ability to understand the success rates of LinkedIn’s advertising platform – sponsored links/updates, advertising your company page itself, etc.

Know your audience better with LinkedIn Analytics

Know your audience better with LinkedIn Analytics

Speaking of …

#8 – Consider leveraging LinkedIn’s advertising platform 

LinkedIn’s advertising platform is easy to understand and incredibly easy to use.  Pick the type of ad that you want to use – text/image, video – and where you want it to appear on the network.  Then, start targeting your message appropriately.  Finally, set your budget.  You can set per day limits and pay by the number of clicks you receive or on the number of impressions out there.

A bevy of options with LinkedIn Advertising

A bevy of options with LinkedIn Advertising

There you have it – eight tips to improving your company’s LinkedIn page and to help with your branding and digital marketing efforts on the platform.

If you have any other tips for running a company page on LinkedIn, let us know in the comments below.  If something has (or has not) worked really well for your business, let us know as well.  Thanks!

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 9-28-14

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding focusing on LinkedIn (Photo credit: PowerFormula.net)

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding focusing on LinkedIn (Photo credit: PowerFormula.net)

Our last #SundayMusings that focuses on LinkedIn as we close out “LinkedInMonth” – which turned into two months given the amount of content.  We have focused our #SundayMusings efforts on the professional network over the past few weeks and have our last two “Pin of the Month” entries on the platform as well.  Next week will wrap up our efforts with a new “Tips” article focusing on business/company page recommendations, which follows our personal branding Tips for the network.

Here are the stories that caught our attention over the past few weeks:

#1 – LinkedIn takes steps toward an ad network – via DigiDay.com

Premise: LinkedIn’s recent acquisition of Bizo will help the network vastly improve its business-to-business marketing and will serve as another source of revenue for the platform.  While LinkedIn will not call Bizo a pure ‘ad network’ play, the site will soon be able to sell B2B ads that are more targeted on-site, but also off-site.  The July acquisition takes LinkedIn another giant step forward from past efforts in building ad revenue with more powerful targeting.

Thoughts: LinkedIn’s CEO Jeffrey Weiner seems to continue pushing all the right buttons in moving the platform to the next level.  With a need to now answer to shareholders, the acquisition of Bizo represents another huge opportunity for revenue growth.  Targeted marketing continues to become more and more prevalent, while at the same time, becoming stronger and more efficient thanks to companies like Bizo.

#2 – “33 Tweet-Size LinkedIn Tips You Need to Try” via themuse.com 

Premise: An infographic from Ethos3 provides 33 tips for consideration when looking for improvements to your LinkedIn profile.  Each tip is a quote from someone else’s thoughts and gives credit to said person or company.

Thoughts: There are a lot of good ideas within the infographic.  However, I do want to point out one that doesn’t jive with others here.  I do not agree with #6 – although I am guilty of doing this myself in the past – in the recommendation “Skip the “How do you know this person” step.  Click “Connect” from search results, instead of profiles. @SylvanLane”.  Why do I disagree with this?  Simply scroll down to #19 – “Don’t use automated invitation messages … @dailymuse”.  There isn’t a way to do both and I would strongly recommend personalizing each invitation that you send out.

#3 – 5 Reasons Sales Professionals Should Publish on LinkedIn via Jeff L. Herrmann on LinkedIn.com 

Premise: The author provides more rationale to use LinkedIn as a publishing platform vs. just using it for your job search.  The five reasons are straightforward, including the ability to position yourself as an expert in your sector and building trust with others.

Thoughts: The one ‘reason’ that caught my attention and got me thinking was Jeff’s last point: “Comments, likes, and views on your published content are a much better endorsement than the skills boxes.”  I thought about this a little bit and it’s an interesting POV.  Specifically to sales professionals, which this article is focused on, this makes a lot of sense.  To the general job seeker, etc. you are going to need those skills listed out on your profile and endorsements from your network.

#4 – “LinkedIn Sales Navigator Goes Mobile and Adds Redesigned Salesforce Features” via Sales.LinkedIn.com 

Premise: LinkedIn launched Sales Navigator earlier this year and have already announced an upgrade with the release of its iOS mobile app.  Following general behaviors in the marketplace, the shift to mobile continues and LinkedIn continues to invest in the platform.  The new LinkedIn Sales Navigator app provides several key benefits: Real-time updates, TeamLink, and Saved accounts and leads.  The app also works directly with Salesforce and includes new features there as well.

Thoughts: A couple of items caught my attention beyond the announcement itself.  First, it drives me crazy when companies release an iOS version of something only.  I completely understand why they do it, but it still drives me a bit batty.  Second, it didn’t go unnoticed that LinkedIn’s own posts continue to drop in Slideshare presentations.

Tweet of the Week:

What I really like about Pam’s podcasts is that she provides an in-depth summary and corresponding write-up with them.  This allows you to read up on what is covered in the podcast and decide whether or not you want to listen, skip around, etc.  The highlights towards the end of article is a quick list of benefits of leveraging LinkedIn.  If you have been following “LinkedIn Month” here on Shore Branding, you know we’re aligned with a lot of these areas.

OK, so this is a little dated at this point, but I wanted to bring the focus to company pages on LinkedIn as this will be the focus of next weekend’s “Tips” write-up.  I couldn’t find an updated Slideshare for 2014 (yet?) but many of the strengths highlighted in the above presentation still exist.  I really like what Dell has done visually on their company page.  Their image has since been updated, with the new Dell page promoting a “#DoMore” campaign.

That wraps up our LinkedIn-geared #SundayMusings for another week!  What caught your attention on the network?  Have a great week!

Pin of the Month – LinkedIn Statistics

September's "Pin of the Month" is from Mainstreethost.com - LinkedIn Statistics

September’s “Pin of the Month” is from Mainstreethost.com – LinkedIn Statistics

“LinkedIn Month” (Plus) continues with our next “Pin of the Month”.  We have been focusing on LinkedIn for several weeks now, beginning with our August “Pin of the Month”, several #SundayMusings, and a Tips article.  The infographic above comes from Mainstreethost.com and provides key LinkedIn Statistics directly from LinkedIn itself.

This infographic caught my attention as there is a focus on the corporate/business side of using the social platform that doesn’t receive as much attention as it should.  You will find a plethora of material and recommendations on how to improve your own personal page (including our own Tips article referenced above …) but there is much less content out there about how to build your business page and how powerful it can become for you and your business in the B2B environment.

Starting off near the top of the infographic we find out there are 3 million or so business pages on LinkedIn.  I wonder how many of those were set up and are virtually never thought of or touched again by the company’s page managers.

From there we start to get into several, key business-specific facts:

  • “51% of companies have acquired a B2B customer”
  • “LinkedIn drives more traffic to corporate websites & blogs”
  • “LinkedIn is the most effective social platform for generating B2B leads”

These are all heavy hitting numbers and facts from the social network.  It is an interesting fine line that the company continues to toe between “social” and “business” and is certainly a unique POV when considering that LinkedIn is doing both so well (in general).

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 find on our Pinterest page and (over-) analyzing it in a write-up like this.  For those specifically interested in LinkedIn, here is a direct link to our LinkedIn board.

What do you think about LinkedIn’s role in building a social presence for businesses and companies?  We’ll be putting together a second “Tips” article in the coming weeks that focuses squarely on building stronger company pages on the platform!