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!

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.

 

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 – 6-22-14

World Cup Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding (Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.com)

World Cup Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding
(Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.com)

This week’s #SundayMusings focuses on one of the world’s largest sporting events going on right now, the World Cup. There have been a number of brands dedicating a significant portion of budget to ads revolving around the soccer/football tournament. Let’s dive right in!

#1 – World Cup 2014 – The World Cup, lived through the eyes of brands and marketing – via MarketingWorldCup.Tumblr.com 

Premise: A continuously updated branding/marketing blog was created on Tumblr that keeps track of all branding and marketing-related news and stories around the World Cup.

Thoughts: While I can’t stand the Tumblr platform, this feels like a good place to start, no? From YouTube ads/clips to infographics to news on the World Cup’s sponsor (and “fake” sponsor) brands, this page has it all for you.

#2 – World Cup 2014: The best and worst quirky promotional stunts – in pictures via Telegraph.co.uk  

Premise: A visual look into some of the best and worst branding work done at this year’s World Cup, largely geared towards the UK.

Thoughts: There were several images in here that are eye-catching: Page 1, the stack of 1,500 Pringles cans forming the sneaker and on Page 7, the Coca-Cola promotion with the 3D painting of Brazil. There weren’t any “awful” pictures shown here as nothing was too off the wall. Although, in reading through 100’s if not 1000’s of World Cup tweets and article headlines, I know they exist out there.

#3 – “Which World Cup Sponsors Are Resonating With Fans” via AdWeek.com 

Premise: Going into the World Cup brands were already spending large amounts of marketing dollars to grab the attention of fans and supporters. Adidas is an official sponsor of the World Cup but struggled to differentiate itself as such vs. Nike. Omnicom tracked the positive and negative mentions on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs and found that several official sponsors were struggling to resonate with fans.

Thoughts: The table at the end of the article takes a look at the official sponsors of the World Cup and their positive/negative mentions going into the start of the tournament. Hyundai and Continental AG surprisingly showed 100% “positive” comments. Even if the number of mentions is lower than most others, this is still impressive given the nature of taking to social media to talk/complain about brands. Adidas led the way in total mentions on this research but only 58% of commentary was positive, one of the lower percentages across sponsors.

#4 – “8 Brands That Totally Nailed Their World Cup Ads” via blog.hubspot.com  

Premise: The authors pulled together what they felt were the eight best ads of the World Cup. Knowing the overall size of the World Cup and how no other sporting event shines as bright on a global stage, what brands are shining/breaking through that door and standing out? Take a look for yourself … as the writer drops in the ads, the advertiser and the agency responsible for the creative.

Thoughts: My favorites among these eight are Nike’s “Winner Stays”, Kia’s “Adriana Lima Transforms a Man Cave” and McDonad’s “Gol!” ads. As you will see in a number of World Cup-related write-ups, Nike has completely hijacked the ad and branding news from Adidas – again, the official sponsor of the event. Kia essentially news hijacks the global event to create a fun ad/spot, but it was the McDonald’s ad that really won here. No famous athletes or stars, just ordinary people doing some amazing stunts. Here’s the ad itself:

#5 – “Brands Are Ready for a Socially Sophisticated 2014 World Cup” via ClickZ.com  

Premise: The 2010 World Cup started the move to a “social” event but the 2014 sporting event is taking things to another stratosphere. It all starts with FIFA and their adaptation to social media with their “Global Stadium” endeavor. FIFA is also working directly with Twitter to monitor the #WorldCup hashtag. The author then goes into a number of brands that will be leveraging social media during the World Cup, including sponsors and non-sponsors of the event.

Thoughts: Figured it was important to find an article that referenced FIFA for our World Cup #SundayMusings. The group/brand was smart to forge the partnership with Twitter (and elsewhere?) to measure (and promote) the event itself. Don’t believe me that Twitter is helping sell/engage with an audience? I’ve received a handful of emails from the site itself regarding the event, including the one below. Earlier this week, they provided an update on the Twitter Blog for how metrics were looking to that point of the World Cup as well.

Twitter is capturing a ton of data for the World Cup!

Twitter is capturing a ton of data for the World Cup!

 

Tweet of the Week:

It was virtually impossible to pick just one brand-related tweet revolving around the World Cup. The action and promotion has been non-stop. Therefore, I’ve gone with the official TV partner of the event here in the US – ESPN. Say what you will about the company, and I have, they have rolled out the red carpet for the World Cup and are doing a great job with the global event.

Thanks again for checking out another edition of Shore Branding’s #SundayMusings! What has been your favorite ad or campaign from the World Cup this year? Want more information? Take a look at the infographic below that focuses on this month’s big event!

World Cup Infographic - Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding

World Cup Infographic – Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding

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: [Read more...]

Sunday Musings w/ Shore Branding – 5-25-14

 

A mobile #SundayMusings w/ Shore Branding! (Photo credit: ZDNet.com)

A mobile #SundayMusings w/ Shore Branding!
(Photo credit: ZDNet.com)

 

Today’s #SundayMusings puts the focus back on mobile and mobile marketing thanks to last weekend’s “Pin of the Month” from guest writer Dean Olsen. Here are the top stories that relate to mobile from the past couple of weeks.

#1 – Wearable Baby Tech Aims to Bring Peace of Mind to New Parents – via BrandChannel.com 

Premise: There are a number of new products entering the market that bring tech to our children, including wearables. There is the Mimo Kimono that feeds a baby’s information to an app for parents, to a smart sock from Owlet Baby Care. Finally, Leap Frog has a new product called the LeapBand that works vastly similar to adult bands that track your activity over the course of the day.

Thoughts: This caught my attention for multiple reasons. First and foremost, we introduced our first child to the world last week and it has been a whirlwind ever since. Second, I can’t decide whether or not this technology is a good thing or bad thing, as I completely see both sides of the fence. I’m hoping my wife can make the call on this and whether or not we want to purchase any of these products (or similar ones). I’ll keep you posted … [Read more...]