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!

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 6-8-14

Branding and Digital Marketing

Branding and Digital Marketing

Welcome back to another edition of #SundayMusings! This week we will be focusing on retail-related news and stories that caught our attention over the past few weeks. As a quick aside, we will also be focusing on retail and retail loyalty in the forthcoming June “Pin of the Month” next weekend. For now, here are the stories that caught my attention.

#1 – Do Tablets Have The Power To Revolutionize Retail – via CMO.com 

Premise: While not there yet, tablets will soon be everywhere. Similar to how the iPod revolutionized the music industry, tablets will turn the retail landscape on its head. It is predicted that half of the US will have a tablet within the next few years. Tablets are a research-friendly device for customers and the author provides several additional motivating facts for leveraging tablets for your business.

Thoughts: The second screen has changed consumers’ behaviors – from how they watch television to the entire retail/shopping experience. The Nordstrom example provided by the author is a great way to show how a retailer can leverage a tablet to create a unique experience for its customers. Bookmark the site for future write-ups on how tablets are impacting additional industries as well.

#2 – Square Begins Offering Data Driven Cash Advances To Small Businesses via TechCrunch.com  

Premise: Square, the mobile payment company, announced that it is rolling out Square Capital which will offer cash advances to businesses within its network. Companies already leveraging Square’s services will be able to access the cash advances and each business will be individually judged on the amount of the advance based on Square’s in-house data.

The benefits of the service include faster turnaround for receiving the cash advance and the significantly lower fees vs. a typical loan. The data that Square holds allows the company to update its offers to businesses on the fly.

Thoughts: Square continues to evolve and the more I read about the company the more I am impresses with the company’s management and management decisions. This offering injects capital into retailers and other businesses and allows them to invest what they want and when they want it. The background data that the company holds on each business allows Square to make smart business decisions on how much the advance can and should be.

#3 – “7 Easy Loyalty Program Ideas for Your New Store” via TheStoreStarters.com 

Premise: “Customers love loyalty programs” and the author provides seven different ideas for how your retail business can leverage a loyalty program to increase engagement with customers. From punch cards to couponing to more strategic efforts, the author’s tips/ideas are all up for consideration across all types of stores and retailers.

Thoughts: The last two items listed in the write-up caught my attention. “Social media loyalty discounts” seem to have gone by the wayside a bit. I see less and less deals on foursquare in my area, while employees at several retailers are completely unaware of the offerings when I show them my phone for the deal. If you are going to offer deals on social media, make sure you keep up with the times, refresh the offer to change things up a bit, and please ensure your employees are aware of any and all offerings out there.

The last tip/idea of making exclusive offers for loyal customers also caught my eye. You want to create brand ambassadors for your business so that they will talk about you to friends and family. Offering them exclusive deals will help increase their engagement with you and keep them coming back for more.

#4 – “Mobile Apps – Changing the Face of Retail Industry” via ExploreB2B.com  

Premise: Mobile has made a significant impact on the retail industry, changing shopping behaviors and keeping consumers more informed about the products they are considering buying. Mobile apps are helping retailers better understand their customers as well. Retailers are able to improve loyalty, push out notifications, and engage their customer base for feedback through their apps. The author provides four ways in which mobile apps are helping improve the shopping experience, not only for the customer, but also for the retailers themselves.

Thoughts: Mobile apps help build/improve a strong loyalty program for the retailer and can be an important part of CRM. Perhaps the most effective part of a good mobile app, at least in my opinion, is the third example the author provides – the app can be a low-cost, yet effective marketing tool. Retailers can push out deals and offers to its customers – those that have “opted in” to the brand simply by downloading their app.

(A great example of this is Starbucks – take a look at the first few paragraphs of our last “Brand in Focus” which compliments the retailer’s mobile efforts.)

#5 – “How Walmart Uses Receipts to Personalize Mobile Marketing” via GetElastic.com  

Premise: Last month, Walmart made a potentially important change to their mobile marketing platform, allowing customers to save their receipts to their mobile application vs. receiving paper or email receipts for their purchase. When checking out the customer can provide their mobile number to receive a text message that will sync to the mobile account. There are benefits to the system on both ends, for the customer and for Walmart.

Thoughts: For those willing and able, customers can make their shopping experience that much easier by converting to the mobile platform Walmart has installed. However, from the retailer’s perspective, this system will provide a wealth of data and information that Walmart can then use to help tailor its marketing for individual users based on past experience.

Are you willing to sign up for this type of offer at Walmart, or any other retailer that this type of system could be installed in?

Tweet of the Week:

Last month Amazon and Twitter announced a partnership that will allow Twitter users to make purchases on Amazon by simply sending a tweet marked with “#AmazonCart”. The first step is to sync your Amazon and Twitter accounts. From there, if and when you see an item from Amazon all you have to do is respond on Twitter with the hashtag and product and voila, you will/should have the product in your Amazon orders.

A similar type of program was launched on Twitter with American Express last year. It will be interesting to see if or how this takes off and if this truly builds a stronger platform for both companies.

Thanks again for checking out another edition of Shore Branding’s #SundayMusings! Have a great week ahead!

Brand in Focus – Starbucks

 

Recognize this logo?

Recognize this logo?

Welcome to another edition of ‘Brand in Focus’ – our look into the branding and digital marketing efforts of specific brands and companies. In this edition we’ll be focusing on one of the most talked about, successful brands to engage with its customers across social media … Starbucks.

Starbucks.com promotes its social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. However, before we even dive into each one, let’s take a minute to talk about their own web site. In preparing this entry, the ‘current’ landing page goes right into mobile marketing with a request to text them to receive offers over your phone. I happened to give this a whirl and was signed up for their SMS program and this was the second message that was sent my way:

Starbucks Mobile Ad ... Thank you!

Starbucks Mobile Ad … Thank you!

Awesome! Immediately under the SMS program / headline is a link to sign up for their My Starbucks Rewards™ program (commonly viewed as one of the premiere rewards programs out there). There is a wealth of information on the home page, including a store locator, a link to your personal account, a search box and another link to sign up for their email program. Immediately, it is pretty clear that Starbucks “gets it” when it comes to what a company web site can and should be used for.

At the time of this write-up, Starbucks can boast a strong following across networks: 36.6+ million fans on Facebook, 6.1+ million followers on Twitter, and 2.5 million followers on Google+. Let’s take a look into each.

Facebook:

Clicking on their cover photo below, I found that this actually came from a fan’s Instagram account. You can view the conversation that the Starbucks team is having directly with the fan and asking them permission to use the photo on Facebook. You don’t think that this is creating a lifetime fan immediately?

Starbucks engaging across Facebook and Instagram!

Starbucks engaging across Facebook and Instagram!

One of the items that I particularly enjoy reading about is the brand’s timeline, particularly those that go back and tell the story of how the brand was started and key events that took place over time – well before Facebook and others ever existed.

Looking back on the history of Starbucks via their Facebook timeline

Looking back on the history of Starbucks via their Facebook timeline

What also caught my attention here is that, in comparison to the amount of Likes, Shares, and Comments the company sees on its regular posts, this particular entry “only” has 1,300+ Likes and 70+ Comments. Now, compare that to your regular postings from Starbucks:

Likes, Comments, and Shares on the Starbucks Facebook Wall ... Oh my

Likes, Comments, and Shares on the Starbucks Facebook Wall … Oh my

Multiple items worth calling out here:

  • Starbucks regularly creates its own hashtags for its posts
  • You won’t find a recent post that doesn’t have an image attached with it
  • Hundreds, if not thousands of shares
  • Thousands of comments, including interaction between Fans – not always positive, but Fans very much willing to engage with one another and the brand
  • Tens of thousands of Likes on each post

Twitter:

Starbucks’ Twitter page is a little less visual given the more frequent messages that are being sent out on the network. The brand has sent out over 20K tweets since joining Twitter. One item that quickly caught my attention was that the Twitter page clearly has owners at the company (see red box within the image below).

Personalizing the Starbucks Twitter feed

Personalizing the Starbucks Twitter feed

You’ll find a slew of hashtags being used by the company on Twitter. One of the more regular hashtags being leveraged is “#ProTip”, where the company offers up an ingredient or mix to delight your (or someone’s) taste buds.

On average, Starbucks will see several hundred retweets and upwards of around 1,000 favorites for their tweeting efforts. Not bad at all, but clearly not the level of engagement they see on Facebook either. Given their advanced use of social media in general, I have to imagine that they are keeping an eye on many, if not all, of the hashtags that the brand throws out there on a regular basis to see what type of traction they are getting.

Google+:

A few items caught my eye on the Starbucks “About” page on G+. First, they have created a Community called “Starbucks Partners” that is an online forum for all of its employees. This is a fantastic idea to give employees an open forum to talk about the company. Second, the company has taken the time to put together a thorough ‘Story’ on the G+ page.

The Starbucks story on Google+ & their own Community

The Starbucks story on Google+ & their own Community

At the bottom of their “About” page you will find a number of links, including; their homepage, YouTube page, Facebook, Twitter, as well as several Starbucks-branded landing pages – Ideas for others to submit, eGifts, and an online shop for its products. Once again, a very strong page that provides a tremendous amount of information that drives engagement with its followers/customers.

A typical post on G+ from Starbucks receives somewhere between 500-1K +1’s and ~100 shares. It looks like holiday-themed posts with pictures draw more traction with followers. Bringing in Oprah to promote a SKU for one of your latest acquisitions (Teavana) doesn’t hurt either …

Starbucks adds "a little" celebrity power to it

Starbucks adds “a little” celebrity power to it

One final spot that I took a quick glance at was the Starbucks YouTube page that is directly connected to their G+ profile. The brand has playlists broken out by its footprint in various markets around the world, as well as their commercial spots, Starbucks jobs, and several other topics. The page has approximately 30K subscribers.

Overall Summary:

Starbucks is a clear star (oh boy…) in social media. They have developed a passionate following for the brand and have built thousands of brand ambassadors. Their efforts on all three social networks are held in high regard as the company adapts their message to each platform appropriately/accordingly.

What is your opinion of Starbucks’ branding and digital marketing strategy across each network? Let us know in the Comments section below.

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 5-11-14

Branding and Digital Marketing

Branding and Digital Marketing

This week’s #SundayMusings was decided as soon as we received the following email from Pinterest …

Being featured on Pinterest = Awesome!

Being featured on Pinterest = Awesome!

 

With that, here are the stories that caught my attention over the past few weeks that related to Pinterest – branding on the site, Pinterest marketing, etc. [Read more...]

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 4-27-14

Branding and Digital Marketing

Branding and Digital Marketing

 

After focusing on content marketing in the last edition, today’s #SundayMusings w/ Shore Branding focuses on some of the latest and greatest write-ups I’ve seen on digital marketing over the past few weeks.

#1 – Using Social Media to Influence Your Brand Image – via TheSocialMediaHat.com 

Premise: Understanding what your brand image is and how social media can play such an important role in building that image is crucial in today’s world. Social media connects you with millions of people from around the world and can have an immediate and enormous impact on your brand and business … when done correctly; by engaging with your audience, having meaningful content, etc.

Thoughts: While a little bit older than we typically use here on Sunday Musings, The Social Media Hat is a great resource for digital marketing. This write-up takes a branding angle on your digital marketing efforts and how said efforts can impact your brand image. Whether you are looking to share opinions, looking for recommendations, or sharing other people’s work, social media can help take your brand to another stratosphere. [Read more...]

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 2-16-14

 

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding - The Valentine's Day Edition! (Photo credit: blog.templatemonster.com)

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – The Valentine’s Day Edition!
(Photo credit: blog.templatemonster.com)

Continuing our holiday spirit, this week’s #SundayMusings w/ Shore Branding has a Valentine’s Day twist to the top news in branding and digital marketing from the past week!

At the same time, I want to make a quick announcement and decision on the frequency of our #SundayMusings write-ups.  We’ll be moving to an every other week frequency moving forward due to several contributing factors.  What I would like to do is focus on a particular topic or storyline in each write-up.  This gives more time to come up with better stories that tie together under said umbrella.

#1 – How’s Your Brand’s Love Life – via Strategy-Business.com 

Premise: After reading “Romancing the Brand”, the author of the article was able to ask a few questions to the author of the book about how brands can build deeper, more meaningful relationships with brands.

Thoughts: Beyond being a Valentine’s Day-related write-up, this article caught my attention for two reasons.  First, it looks like there is another branding book to put in the queue.  Second, the Radio Shack Super Bowl ad was used as an example of brand authenticity in its communication to consumers.  [Read more...]

Brand in Focus – Cadbury

After doing a little searching for our next ‘Brand in Focus’ – it was quickly decided that Cadbury (UK) would be the nominee due to a slightly unique status across social media platforms.  The Cadbury web site promotes its social media pages on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.  What immediately caught my eye were the number of fans and followers on each.  Cadbury’s Twitter page has ~185K Followers at the time of this writing and their Facebook page has 518K Fans.  However, their Google+ page has over 3.1 million Followers.

Cadbury’s own web site heavily promotes the G+ and Twitter feeds, as you can see in the image below.  The G+ page has also been heavily supported and used as an example of one of the better/stronger pages out there on the network.  Given this, let’s start there. [Read more...]

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 1-5-14

Happy New Year / 2014! (Photo credit: Pinterest User: GeekyGoddess626)

Happy New Year / 2014!
(Photo credit: Pinterest User: GeekyGoddess626)

Happy New Year / 2014 everyone!  I hope you have a great year ahead of you!  This year on ShoreBranding.com we’ll continue with the weekly #SundayMusings, will be putting together several more “Tips” articles, and putting more “Brands in Focus”.  Look for those in the coming days and weeks ahead.

For the first #SundayMusings of 2014, I have broken this up into two parts: reflecting on 2013 and looking forward to 2014.  Here are this week’s top branding and digital marketing stories:

#1 – AdWeek.com’s Top 10 Advertising Stories of 2013 – via AdWeek.com 

Premise: AdWeek put together a list of the most read stories from the site in 2013, with links to each in case you may have missed any of them.  The most read story of the year – Crest and Oral-B’s Halloween ad with the kids’ reactions (similar to the AT&T ads).

Thoughts: No surprise to see the Crest ad at or near the top of the list, along with stories from the Super Bowl, and AT&T’s ads from this past year with the children at the roundtable.  There are also several countdown articles within this countdown (most beloved brands, top ads) to take a look through as well.  There are several, fantastic advertising and branding stories in here.

What will you remember most from 2013?  I’m going to say the AT&T ads and the Geico ‘Hump Day’ ad. [Read more...]

New Poll – Where will you be advertising in 2014?

What advertising platform will you be leveraging in 2014? (Photo credit: BusinessNewsDaily.com)

What advertising platform will you be leveraging in 2014?
(Photo credit: BusinessNewsDaily.com)

Over the course of 2013, we covered off on several different trends in the advertising space, including the shift to advertising on various social networks (throughout many of our weekly Sunday Musings) and mobile advertising (most specifically with startup Nearwoo).

With that in mind, our opening poll question for 2014 is relatively simple: which advertising platforms will your brand/business be leveraging in 2014 to increase awareness and/or build stronger loyalty?  The options include:

  1. Mobile
  2. Paid Search
  3. Facebook
  4. Instagram
  5. Twitter
  6. LinkedIn
  7. Foursquare
  8. Other Social Media Networks

After voting, if you would like to endorse a particular avenue, please feel free to do so in the Comments section below.  If you have already leveraged any of these streams, let us know what level of success you may have encountered.

Thanks for taking the time to vote and Happy New Year!

Pin of the Month – Social Media Mistakes in 2013

The biggest social media mistakes of 2013 (Infographic by masters-in-marketing.org)

The biggest social media mistakes of 2013
(Infographic by masters-in-marketing.org)

It is time to look back at the misfiring’s in social media in 2013.  This month’s ‘Pin of the Month’ is from Masters in Marketing and takes a look at several brands’ misguided attempts at social media.  While we took a look into the future in yesterday’s Sunday Musings, let’s take a step back and reflect on several moments in 2013.

The year got off to a rough start with HMV and Tesco.  The latter had a scheduled tweet (ugh!) sent out that coincided with their horsemeat scandal.  Well done … The Onion took things too far in February, with an offensive comment towards a 9 year old.  You probably remember Burger King being hacked earlier in the year, with negative tweets sent out about the company. [Read more...]