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

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

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

We continue with our “#LinkedInMonth” today with our second #SundayMusings that focuses on the business social network.  Similar to two weeks ago, here are the top stories of the past few weeks regarding LinkedIn.  Again, if you have an article or recommendations for stories to cover on LinkedIn, let me know and we’ll share in the future.

#1 – How Millennials Can Use LinkedIn – via VirtualSocialMedia.com

Premise: Millennials know all about social media and how to use it, but the one site they should be paying attention to is LinkedIn.  The author offers up several tips on completing a profile and what not to include.  LinkedIn is a powerful tool/resource that can help millennials land their first job.        

Thoughts: This past weekend we covered off on several tips in improving your personal brand on LinkedIn.  Many of said thoughts are highly applicable to millennials entering the work force.  However, you must realize that the network is used by professionals and is much, much different than updating your Twitter and Facebook profiles.      

#2 – “Does your LinkedIn profile lack curb appeal?  Add images and links!” via thesocialmediahat.com 

Premise: If your LinkedIn profile looks like your resume from a Word document, you aren’t leveraging the platform correctly.  The latest updates from LinkedIn allow anyone to make their profile shine.  LinkedIn now allows you to personalize the order of your profile from top to bottom. 

Thoughts: Anyone looking to use LinkedIn for their job search must stay on top of all of the latest and greatest from LinkedIn, as they are continuously updating what is possible for your profile.  There is a great slideshare within the link above as well, providing several tips and examples on how to optimize your profile.    

#3 – The 3 Biggest Mistakes People Make on Twitter and LinkedIn (And How to Fix Them) via blog.hubspot.com 

Premise: The author provides three mistakes that are commonly seen being made on Twitter and LinkedIn and recommendations on how to fix them.  Link baiting and blasting LinkedIn Groups with your thoughts and feedback is one common mistake; instead, join in other conversations and spread your knowledge.  The second LinkedIn mistake commonly made is sending the generic message in invitations to new connections.  Personalizing said message goes a long way to distinguishing yourself vs. others.     

Thoughts: Both LinkedIn-specific recommendations are hard to argue against.  Nothing drives me crazier than the link baiting that goes on under comments and updates in Groups.  People that simply add a “Hi” or “Thanks” and a link to their site underneath a popular status update is a great way to annoy your audience and get blocked. 

I also believe in customizing the text in your connection invitation.  Personalize your message to something that is more relevant for each individual person.  The 90 seconds it takes to do this will go a long way.  

#4 – “8 Brilliant Ways To Get Your LinkedIn Account Restricted/Suspended” via exploreB2B.com 

Premise: LinkedIn is one of the greatest ways for businesses to build their leads and contacts.  In a somewhat sarcastic way, the writer puts together eight ways to ruin your business’ reputation on the network.  Building off of #3 above at the personal level, using your business page to spam your audience is a great way to draw negative attention to yourself.    

Thoughts: The eight examples provided by the writer are all “fun” ways to annoy an audience.  Sadly, you likely see examples of each every time you check into the network.  Tip number 3 – “Clone yourself” – is one of the most confusing elements I have seen on LinkedIn and it simply drives me crazy when I do.  Which of these are your “favorite”?    

#5 – “The One New LinkedIn Feature That Will Make Your Profile Stand Out” via William Arruda on LinkedIn.com 

Premise: LinkedIn rolled out a new feature for Premium members in recent months – the ability to add a background image to your profile.  This feature will eventually become available to all users and is a great way to distinguish yourself from others with an eye catching visual.  If you want to build/improve your personal brand on the network, this is certainly one of the best features to do so.    

Thoughts: The author provides the appropriate specs (1400*425 pixels) for your background image and several other recommendations to improve your branding efforts on your profile.  For my background I actually went ahead and created a word cloud based on my work experience and expertise areas.  Think about what works for you and get started with a new background image on your profile – it truly does/will set you apart right now on the network.    

Tweet of the Week:

Author Barry Moltz has a new book called “How to Get Unstuck: 25 Ways to Get Your Business Growing Again” and LinkedIn Influencer Dave Kerpen – CEO of Likeable Media – spoke with Moltz on his ideation of how to get your business growing again, avoiding drop-offs and plateaus. 

First, these are very solid ideas for growing your business.  Second, Kerpen is a ‘must follow’ on LinkedIn if you aren’t already.  

That’s it for this week’s musings.  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 #SundayMusings!

Six Tips When Leveraging LinkedIn for Your Personal Brand

LinkedIn Tips for Your Brand

LinkedIn Tips for Your Brand

Founded in 2002 and launched in 2003, the social network for business professionals has done nothing but continue to grow exponentially over the past decade-plus.  In 2011 the company went public, taking the network into another stratosphere in popularity.  Given the uniqueness of LinkedIn, we’re going to break up our Tips into two groups – one for your personal brand and one for your business.  This week’s edition focuses on the former.

Here are six (loaded) tips to improving your personal brand on LinkedIn.

#1 – Creatively fill in your profile

First and foremost, upload a clear, professional image of yourself.  I don’t think anything else really needs to be said here beyond the following …

14 times more likely to be viewed!  Yes, please add an image to your LinkedIn

14 times more likely to be viewed! Yes, please add an image to your LinkedIn

There are several other items that you want to take care of as well:

  • Customize your URL to your name or something unique
  • Within the summary at the top of your profile, after a paragraph or two of detail, list out “Specialties” or “Core Focus” items that quickly summarize what you bring to the table
  • For each position/job you have held, provide detail and perspective of what your role entailed
  • Include your contact information (phone and email at least) within the “Additional Info” section of the profile

#2 – Leverage “Endorsements” 

On your own profile, add key words and tags that describe your experience and expertise.  This will allow other connections to endorse you for said skills.

Struggling to earn/receive endorsements from others?  An easy way to improve these numbers is to start endorsing others.  A good percentage of your connections will reciprocate.

#3 – Join and Participate in Groups 

LinkedIn has the second strongest Group/Community feature available across social media networks in my opinion – trailing only Google+.  Join Groups that are relevant to your expertise and more importantly, engage within these communities to build your presence and increase your network.

A second element to Groups that many people choose not to do is to show these communities that you have joined on your profile.  The more information and detail you can provide about yourself and your background, the better.

#4 – Join LinkedIn Premium

LinkedIn Premium is a revenue source for the company but is well worth it.  If you are looking for a new job, Premium is essential.  There are a number of benefits to signing up for LinkedIn Premium, including:

  • InMail messaging – allowing you to send contact emails to LinkedIn members that you are not connected to
  • Analytics – See how your profile compares to others, who is viewing your page, etc.
  • Premium accounts are currently the only profiles able to create a banner image on your profile.  Be creative and visual with your banner image, drawing that much more attention to your page.
LinkedIn Premium Benefits

LinkedIn Premium Benefits

 #5 – Link and Incorporate SlideShare

In 2012 LinkedIn acquired SlideShare.net and now allows members to easily incorporate SlideShare presentations into your profile and company pages.  Have a sales pitch or visual component that you want to show off?  Upload said material to SlideShare and drop it right into your LinkedIn Profile.

#6 – Publish Content on LinkedIn

While it used to be only available to “celebrities” and those with thousands of followers, LinkedIn has opened up its publishing platform to all users several months ago.  Publishing posts directly on LinkedIn opens up another avenue for you to share your material.  It also allows your material to become part of your portfolio and online resume.  These posts can further prove/improve your expertise in a particular area.  Another benefit … SEO … take a look at the video below!

Those are six tips for improving your personal brand via LinkedIn.  Have you updated your LinkedIn profile recently?  Keep these tips in mind and keep up with the latest and greatest being rolled out by the network to ensure you have the latest features on your profile.

What has your LinkedIn experience been like?  What has worked for you?

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 8-31-14

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

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

Today is our first of two #SundayMusings that will focus squarely on LinkedIn as we continue our unofficial “LinkedIn month” here on Shore Branding. As we started in last weekend’s “Pin of the Month”, each of the next few weeks’ worth of blog entries will focus on LinkedIn, including forthcoming “Tips” articles for individuals and businesses. If you have an article or recommendations on LinkedIn, send it our way over the next few weeks, as the next #SundayMusings in two weeks will also focus on the professional networking site.

For now, here are the stories that caught my attention over the past few weeks:

#1 – The 5 Most Important LinkedIn Features You Aren’t Using Correctly – via Forbes.com 

Premise: As LinkedIn continues to evolve, new features and benefits are made available. However, users fail to keep up with these updates to optimize their LinkedIn profiles. The author offers up five features that are commonly being misused, or not used at all. Each tip is followed up with a recommendation or prime example on how to make the most of your profile/account.

Thoughts: As mentioned in several other #SundayMusings, LinkedIn offers up the second strongest Groups / Communities feature on social media, second to only Google+. At the very least, you should be joining these LinkedIn Groups to find relevant/pertinent information that relates directly to your field of work.

The second of the author’s five tips that I wanted to call out is the use of multi-media. When LinkedIn started, you couldn’t do a lot with multi-media … OK, you couldn’t do anything in this realm. However, now you have the ability to link to web sites, videos, SlideShare presentations, etc. Take advantage of these opportunities on your profile.

#2 – “10 LinkedIn tips Every Business Can Benefit From” via impactbnd.com 

Premise: Businesses often create their LinkedIn page … and then walk away from it and let it exist on its own. The author puts together a list of tips and thoughts on how to better use the platform from a business page perspective. Each tip is followed by a relevant quote from various sources and publications.

Thoughts: I have purposefully focused the first two articles here on personal and business-related tips, as this is how we will be breaking down our own Tips articles in the coming weeks.

The first two tips here – “connect with a purpose” and “employ consistent branding” should be the backbone to your efforts on LinkedIn. The one tip here to be careful/cautious on, “involve your employees”. We have seen this bite company pages in the collective … too often. It is incredibly easy to add and remove access to your business page, but it is easier to set guidelines with employees that you have the utmost trust in ahead of time to ensure there are no fires that need to be put out because of someone saying/publishing something dumb or controversial on behalf of your company name.

#3 – 10 Reasons Why You Should Publish Content on LinkedIn via TopDogSocialMedia.com  

Premise: For some time, only LinkedIn Influencers were able to publish their content on the network. However, that has changed and anyone with a profile can use the platform to publish their work, which in turn creates a number of benefits and value for users. The author has created a list of reasons to consider publishing your content on LinkedIn.

Thoughts: This is a fantastic, in-depth look at a specific part of LinkedIn that you or your business can focus on. The third (“LinkedIn might promote you”) and fourth (“Reach your 2nd and 3rd level connection”) really stood out to me as the added benefit and value of using LinkedIn.

Are you using the publishing platform? If so, what is your opinion of it?

#4 – “LinkedIn vs. Facebook for Professionals: A Social Media Smackdown” via Inc.com 

Premise: While Facebook may have approximately three times as many users vs. LinkedIn (900 million vs. 300 million respectively), the latter is clearly the better network for business professionals. The author provides a rundown of why and how LinkedIn is superior to Facebook when thinking about attracting right audience, in this case, business professionals.

Thoughts: I personally liked the head to head comparisons on each of the points. I also give credit to the author for giving a tie to LinkedIn and Facebook on the company pages aspect and not just giving LinkedIn the advantage because that was the overall tone/point of the article.

#5 – “Top Content Marketers Call On LinkedIn” via SocialMediaFrontiers.com  

Premise: The push towards content and current news stories (LinkedIn Today) have become more prevalent on the network in recent months. The UK based company Collective Content has been monitoring these changes and provides perspective on how important LinkedIn is becoming to businesses.

Between LinkedIn Today and the page’s Influencer program, the potential for the platform continues to grow. Collective Content believes that LinkedIn can be a publishing powerhouse and prime news source for its members.

Thoughts: Again, we find more information and detail on how LinkedIn can be leveraged as a prime source for news and relevant content. It is quite amazing how LinkedIn has moved away from being simply an online resume to a content curator and relevant source of information across businesses and markets.

Tweet of the Week:

We couldn’t get through this #SundayMusings without a mention of SlideShare. The LinkedIn-owned site is now free to use for everyone. Beginning in September, they will be rolling out “Pro” features to everyone at a one per month rate for new users, while Pro members/subscribers will no longer be charged beginning next month.

With that in mind, below you will find one of the best SlideShare presentations I’ve seen on the basics of LinkedIn. I thought it was important to start with the basics in our first #SundayMusings dedicated to the platform. While a couple of these slides are no longer relevant due to the changes made on the network, this provides a strong grounding of what to expect when you first sign up on the site and where you can find the most relevant information.

 

Again, 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 #SundayMusings! Have a great week!

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.

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!