Social Media

helping small businesses with digital marketing

What Small Business Can Learn from Big Brands in Digital Marketing

1920 600 Shout Out Studio

Editor’s Note: Shout Out Studio has partnered with students from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) to mentor, research and write a series of blog posts for shoutoutstudio.com. The authors are members of student-led group, East Bridge Consultancy, an affiliate of Alpha Kappa Psi, a professional business fraternity.

By: Grant Smith & Kristian Jennes

With the release of new technologies such as augmented reality over the years (or months) and the proven business usability of social networking platforms, the landscape of marketing strategies has evolved from cold selling to the use of digital channels. This new method provides a new experience for the customer, while contributing meaningful insights for organizations to utilize. A study done by Adobe interviewed a large group of marketing professionals from all facets to gain an understanding on best practices. One finding: Sixty-six percent of all marketers think companies won’t succeed unless they have a digital marketing approach. While larger organizations have multi million dollar budgets to invest in a digital strategy, small businesses feel left behind. There are many lessons that small businesses can learn from larger brands that can be implemented on a smaller scale to generate compelling content for consumers.

Although virtual reality is the more mainstream of the two, augmented reality has been embraced by the masses this past year with Pokémon Go, a mobile application which let’s users see characters in their own reality through their phone. This comeback of the 1990’s cartoon game shows businesses consumers are ready for the AR experience. In fact, over the past year, make up, furniture, and drug store organizations have heavily invested in AR to provide their customers with a new channel to view products. Walgreens has a mobile app called ‘Aisle411’ which immerses customers in new promotions and usually unseen products/deals while walking around the store. IKEA introduced an application that allows buyers to see what a certain piece of furniture would look like in their home. Sephora (cosmetics) now allows customers to see how a certain style of make-up would look on their faces simply by using their front facing camera. Within 8 weeks of the launch, Sephora’s application was bought over 1.6 million times.

Of course, larger brands like Walgreens have the resources to fund augmented reality style marketing strategies. But what about the small town brick and mortar shops- how can AR be utilized without breaking the bank? What they can learn from this craze is this: consumers are ready for a shopping experience that incorporates exploration through different channels other than walk in’s. Simple changes to websites such as including products that are not on the shelves or at a particular location can spark more time on your website and increased awareness of your brand. Augmented reality use by larger brands will also bring a vast amount of insights of consumer trends. Although actual augmented reality applications for organizations require heavy investments, the results and teachings that can be captured online are always free for small businesses to utilize.

Implementing a strong digital marketing strategy is crucial to any successful business, but in today’s cluttered online marketplace, providing consumers with an unforgettable experience can vault a company to the top of its industry. WestJet took the experience a step further, by blending a digital sharing element that guaranteed a large scope and huge awareness for years to come. By posting a video of employees granting passenger wishes, WestJet created a viral sensation that has racked up 41+ million views to date. The combination of an experience shared on a digital platform maximized reach while resonating emotionally with viewers, showing the value of taking a mixed approach to marketing.

Small businesses have not missed this trend and have already begun to take advantage of experiential marketing. One of the biggest ways that small businesses are capitalizing on this trend is by partnering with other small, local companies to provide consumers with a joint event that promotes both businesses and gives consumers a destination that will help the brand resonate with them. A common pairing is often micro breweries with local restaurants, both huge startup trends in large cities that a young demographic will flock to for live music, drink specials, or other events. Companies are utilizing their social media platforms as well as websites to help promote these experiences and gain brand awareness in the community.

One of the biggest hurdles faced in digital marketing is finding a way to resonate with consumers, while reaching the widest range of consumers as possible. When used effectively, contests can be a great way to address this challenge. Dove held an extremely successful contest that instructed users to post a picture of their friend with why their friend “represents real beauty” by filling in two reasons why they find them beautiful alongside their name.  This user generated content not only built the brand’s goodwill, but was free marketing material posted on millions of Facebook walls for viewers to see.

While larger brands often use Facebook as the host for their contests, small business often don’t have the name recognition or following to get these types of promotions to go viral. However, one good way for small business to take advantage of this tactic is to sponsor contests for local sports teams or at large local events. This demonstrates community involvement, spreads brand awareness, and allows consumers to connect on a more personal level. While this takes a much more experiential approach, it can be promoted and marketed using social media and web platforms, blending the two marketing plans into one actionable strategy.
Adobe’s research on digital marketing presented another eye opening result: ‘less than half (48%) of professionals who consider themselves primarily digital marketers feel highly proficient in digital marketing.’ Although the digital strategy has shown success, it is a task that consists of significant resources, time, and constant change. Small businesses cannot be intimidated by this fact, with a clear direction for obtainable goals,consistent strategy, and the desire to constantly learn about consumers trends, one can implement a meaningful marketing campaign that models those of big businesses. While a new technology such as augmented reality can add value to an organization, it is unrealistic for smaller firms to have the ability to research and develop something this expensive and time consuming. Instead, small businesses can position themselves to learn. By gaining insight, one can change the layout of their store, add trending products to their shelves, and provide features on the their website catered to consumer needs while being cost effective. One of the most important aspects of digital marketing is sending a consistent message to consumers, regardless of how they are viewing content.  This means that a small company needs to ensure that mobile applications, web pages, and social media accounts are offering the same features, same information, and same usability. To grow a small organization into one with resources to fund large scale digital marketing strategies, owners/managers must stay up to date on trends and take advantage of the strong customer relationships that a small organization can establish. By truly understanding the target market one can decide which digital strategy to model.

brands and politics

Brands & Politics: A Conversation Worth Having?

1920 703 Shout Out Studio

Editor’s Note: Shout Out Studio has partnered with students from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) to mentor, research and write a series of blog posts for shoutoutstudio.com. The authors are members of student-led group, East Bridge Consultancy, an affiliate of Alpha Kappa Psi, a professional business fraternity.

By: Daniel Kuperman & Sean Hynes

When an increasingly complex business environment collides with a decidedly unconventional political landscape, the only certainty is disruption. Although, to many, this bizarre interplay became most visible during Britain’s exit from the Eurozone and the ascendancy of Donald Trump, keen observers noted signs of change well in advance. The prevalence of social media helps facilitate the adoption of oxymorons like ‘alternative facts’ and ‘fake news,’ somehow becoming mainstays in today’s vernacular. These developments point to a deep uncertainty that pervades social interactions, political conversations, and the markets alike. For some brands, this new standard presents a unique opportunity to connect with a targeted audience.

As exemplified by the immigrant-centered Anheuser Busch ad featured during Super Bowl 50, the growing impact of increasing political divisiveness can be clearly seen. It is also no coincidence this commercial — and others like it — were aired during the single most-viewed television event of the 21st century.

Officially, Anheuser Busch played off the immigrant focus as a coincidence. Amidst the contentious debates that followed Mr. Trump’s proposals for deportation, it was quite the timely opportunity for this ad to air. Delving deeper into the elements of this industry leader’s client base and competition lends useful context to this marketing effort. It is no secret that behemoths like Anheuser Busch have been seeing market share erosion for years due to increasingly popular craft beer brands. A common criticism is that such a massive firm adapts too slowly to diverging consumer preferences, whereas its more nimble competitors were founded upon these new tastes. Perhaps this political gesture intended to rebuy the support of millennial consumers using an unapologetically current ad, costing AB as much as $15 million.

Not all companies choose to align with any specific political ideology or movement, but rather embrace a broader theme such as unity seeking widespread appeal. Coca Cola’s #AmericaIsBeautiful campaign aims to evoke a powerful, albeit safer, reaction among their customer base. The ad seems to make the case that despite our differences, we can bond together and enjoy the ubiquitous experience of a Coke. Compared to AB’s commercial, what Coke lacks in boldness it makes up for in mass appeal. For a country appearing to be growing apart on political and social fronts, this may be a wise approach.

The less audacious brands are perhaps in the best company, opting for a neutral stance instead of venturing into potentially hostile social arenas. Well-recognized (and more often than not, publicly traded) companies chose to respond in ways that would not commit them firmly to either support or opposition of Mr. Trump’s actions. A longer-term outlook reveals a danger of staying out of the conversation, however. While this more guarded course of action makes sense from a shareholder-centered perspective, if social tides turn and increase pressure on corporations to take a stand, those who stayed neutral will be first in the line of fire.

As the powers of social media continue to grow at a seemingly exponential rate, this pressure will continue to creep up on corporations. Public relations nightmares have gone from a minor inconvenience to becoming a major catastrophe overnight, with recent occurrences involving Pepsi and United Airlines coming to mind. Whether it was a company releasing the wrong politically charged ad or having employees’ actions reflect poorly on their employers as a whole, companies must be wary of the powers behind making the wrong move, especially with growing pressure to step out of the neutral zone and take a stand. For United, a single failure in PR crisis management resulted in a $250 million net loss in market value.

Individually, these examples are anecdotal at best; extrapolating on any single situation would be ill-advised. Deciphering a best practice may be impossible for industries as a whole, but by engaging with one’s unique audience, companies can aspire to connect on a more profound level with end users.

 

marketing on snapchat

5 Basics for Marketing on Snapchat

1920 703 Shout Out Studio

100 million. That’s just shy of the number of people that watch the Super Bowl every year. That’s also about one third of the total United States population. 100 million is approximately how many people use Snapchat every single day. Think that sounds like a lot? Now think about seven billion. That’s how many views videos get on Snapchat on a daily basis, with 76 percent of Snapchat’s users are in the Millennial age group.

Visualizing these numbers isn’t what’s important; tapping into them is what matters. With this kind of potential, Snapchat has transformed from simply being valuable for personal use to being a huge opportunity for small and large businesses targeting Millennials.

The Snapchat conversation shouldn’t make you feel out of date. Take a walk through the basics and learn a few strategies your company can utilize through the app.

So you want to try it out. But how does it really work?

To strip it down to the fundamentals, Snapchat allows users to share pictures and videos instantly. The videos and pictures can only be taken through the app and not imported. Once you’ve taken the picture or video you have a couple choices: Post it to your “snap story” where it will remain for 24 hours as a part of a temporary album, or send it to one of your friends. Snap stories can be viewed multiple times by any of your contacts over the course of those 24 hours. The snap story is the more useful feature for brands. If you do choose to send a photo to someone in your contacts, they can view it once before it is gone.

Before posting or sending a picture, feel free to enhance it. It’s encouraged. Swipe right to select a color filter or geofilter. Your geofilter options appear based on where you are and what’s going on around you, but I’ll elaborate on those later on. There’s also the option to include the time, date and details like the current temp. Tap the screen and a text bar will pop up, and if you press the “T” in the top right corner, you can change the style of the text. There’s also a crayon button in the top corner that allows you to get artistic with your picture or video. Just slide your finger along the color spectrum that pops up to choose your paint.

Now that you know the basics, let’s get down to business. Here are five strategies for marketing through the app.

1. Show Transparency 

The rise of social media has fueled the demand for instant information and transparency, and Snapchat is the perfect synergy of those two desires. On Snapchat, you can post more frequently without overwhelming your audience in comparison to an app like Instagram. The pictures aren’t supposed to be premium quality because the concept relies on unscripted and authentic content since the only way to take photos or videos is through the app. People’s desire for raw information paired with the nature of the app makes Snapchat a great way to publish behind the scenes content.

Sports teams are some of the best examples of this concept in action. They use Snapchat to show footage on the bench in practice, on the bus before a game or in the locker room after a game. It relays the personality of the team and its athletes on a more personal level than a formal, produced interview. It makes sense why fans are interested; they feel involved, and the lower-quality handheld video feels intimate. This concept can work the same way for your business. Use Snapchat to tease products or services that are coming soon, and show followers the quirks of your company. Is a product finished but there are a few days before the launch? Fun, team-building day planned? Why not show it off on Snapchat? People are curious about the brands they support, and Snapchat feels like honest communication.

This personal relationship can be developed with more than just behind the scenes content. Snapchat is prime for live event streaming as well. For example, Victoria’s Secret used it before, during and after their fashion show to not only further inform people watching the show, but also to remind their followers to tune in.

Do you have a yearly corporate dinner or host an annual event? Show people where you are and what you’re doing. It gives a firsthand perspective and, if the event is open to the public, people are encouraged to join (virtually) because you will be posting live. Think of your Snapchat story as a digital way to replace live tweeting and target Millennials.

2. Provide Easy Engagement

Just like the social media apps you might be more familiar with like Twitter and Facebook, Snapchat is great because it’s easy for users to engage with your company. If you post a video or picture, followers can view, screenshot or reply directly to you. This is advantageous when it comes to things like contests. For one of our clients, we utilized Snapchat to encourage their audience to add and reply in order to win prizes. These efforts received more engagement than both of our Instagram and Twitter contests. If email campaigns aren’t stimulating the type of engagement you’re looking for, then offering a promo code on your snap story might be an ideal alternative to test.

3. Reveal Tutorials

Showing people how to use your product not only reveals its potential benefits, but also helps prevent any confusion. Snapchat offers businesses the ability to showcase their products and services with a much more casual explanation method. Facebook has been bombarded with how-to cooking videos as of late, and people are big on the simple, quick explanations.

Millennials aren’t as in love with Facebook as they used to be, so if you want an avenue to give them a tutorial, try using Snapchat instead. This can be valuable for all types of products – show people how to put together an outfit with your spring styles, how to make the perfect presentation using your software, style their hair using your extra-hold gel, etc.

4. Connect Through Influencer Outreach

Referral from a friend is a good way to start a new relationship. Utilizing popular and trusted people in your field to gain the interest and eventually trust of potential customers can be a great way to generate business. On Twitter, a retweet from an influencer is nice, but Snapchat takes this relationship to a whole new level. Try a “Snapchat takeover.” This means someone significant to your brand or target demographic runs your account for a period of time. Sour Patch Kids saw a huge growth through utilizing social media influencer Logan Paul for a five-day takeover.

They were able to generate an identity for themselves and wedge into a new niche in a short amount of time because of the instantaneous nature of the app. When you dive into your influencer outreach, it’s worth it to think about someone you can utilize for a Snapchat takeover to create a connection and help grow your audience. The organic nature of the app allows users to really get to know the personality of your company in a short period of time.

5. Advertise Through Geofilters

After taking a photo or video through the app, you can swipe right to add a color filter or a geofilter. Right now at the Shout Out office near downtown in Columbus, Ohio, my options are three different Columbus filters that show a small graphic that adds ‘Columbus’ written in different styles and colors at the top or bottom of the picture. These filters aren’t limited to stating the name of the area though. Companies like JPMorgan are putting their brand name on these geofilters and making them available to people in a specific area.

This allows you to associate your company with an area or an event, and everyone who posts a picture with your filter is organically promoting your brand. Snapchat also provides analytics for your filter, so you can see how many times it was viewed and used.

All of these campaign methods on Snapchat have similar goals: increasing engagement, recognition and interest. With so many Millennials using Snapchat and a very real need for brands to be transparent, this is a natural way to connect with your audience. Not only will the app give your followers the ability see what your up to, but Snapchat’s newest update pushes users to watch all of their friend’s snap stories. In fact, it’s harder to not watch a friend’s snap story than it is to watch it.

It’s not about being hip anymore – Snapchat is the best way to move from brand awareness to building a connection with Millennials.

Facebook Ads: What’s Your Relevance?

1920 700 Shout Out Studio

A while back, Facebook ads added a little thing called a Relevance Score to their reporting dashboard. Facebook ads are typically a game between what you’re trying to communicate to your audience, and what your audience wants to see. How do you know if you’re playing that game right? Your relevance score is a tool to help balance the game of what works and what doesn’t.

How it works:

Your relevance score is in a scale of 1-10, one being the least relevant to your audience, and ten being the most. The score is updated in real time, meaning that as your ad is live and people are interacting with it, Facebook is updating that relevance score with how people are reacting to it, positively or negatively.

Why you should focus on it:

It can save you time and money. Time because the game of guess and check is reduced to looking at one section of your reporting tool. You can easily assess why one ad within an ad set is performing better or worse than another. You’re therefore spending less money because you are spending less time. You can pause or cancel the ad that isn’t performing as well, or begin a new one, continuing to compare until you get a relevance score that you (and your audience) is happy with. Pretty simple, right?

User experience:

What do I think of the relevance score? I think it’s pretty damn amazing. It tells me what I want to know – whether or not my audience is reacting positively or negatively to my ad. We could run as many ads as we want, but unless our ad is relevant to what our audience wants to see, it’s a moot point.

Another reason I dig the relevance score is because we can run two ads back to back, test the same image and different copy, or different images and the same copy, whichever holds the best relevance score indicated then holds a higher relevance with our audience.

Benefits of Outsourcing Your Social Media

1920 700 Gretchen Ardizzone

Social media is beyond mainstream, and many businesses today realize the benefits the various communication platforms can provide to reaching their business goals. The reality though is that as social media becomes larger landscape and more sophisticated over time, succeeding in the social realm can be tough…and it might require some additional expertise. So, if you find yourself in this place, here’s a look at a few reasons why it might benefit you to outsource your social media.

Communicating Your Brand Message

Sure, you know your brand best, but do you know how to effectively communicate it? Whether you’re a brand new startup just getting your feet wet or you’ve been in the industry for decades, believe it or not, it can be a challenge to communicate who you are as a brand and identify what’s your tone-of-voice. If you expect your audience to connect with you, this is an extremely important point of communication. Every update, post, or image should be something that represents the attributes of your brand, and should feel authentic as if you were talking to someone in person. If you haven’t established a voice, having a team to help you identify this voice and keep it consistent can be extremely valuable. Some of the best brands (small and large) are seamlessly managed by outside resources because they’ve been able to embrace the brand’s unique style of communication and flawlessly engage with their audience.

Socially Active Experts

Social media is an ever-evolving form of online communication, and there’s no reason to expect it to slow down anytime soon. Marketers managing social media have to stay on top of new trends and platform innovations. Whether it’s a new algorithm update, click to buy feature, advertising enhancements, etc., … it’s difficult to stay abreast of the social media environment unless you’re living it every day. Having a team of individuals, who can assess the environment, test new platforms, understand the opportunities and debunk the fleeting pop-up of platforms ultimately can save you a whole lot of time and provide focus.

Scaling as You Grow

As you grow, so should your audience, and with that comes more activity and the need for more engagement. And while you may be able to get things off the ground initially, as you continue to grow and see success, tending to social media may not be feasible. Let’s be honest, you still have a day job. Having dedicated individuals, who are there when your customers ask questions, have a customer complaint, or just want to sing the praise of your brand, could establish a new customer relationship, strengthen an existing, or renew a fading one.

Putting Money Where It Matters

Some platforms require a little extra power to get off the ground, to expose your brand to new audiences, or frankly just to stay visible, and sometimes it costs a little to get your voice heard. The unfortunate part is if you’re not familiar with the platform, you could be tossing money in the wind with no return on investment or your time. Those who manage social media day-to-day actively should understand where your time and dollars are best spent, be able to establish ideal budgets, and project anticipated results based on your desired goals.

Analysis of Activity

If you haven’t benchmarked social media goals (followers, reach, engagement, impressions, etc), how do you know if you’re succeeding or failing? Yes, every platform has available analytics, but if you don’t understand what the data is telling you, then how can you be sure that you’re getting the most out of your efforts. If you see engagement declining or impressions increasing, a social media team should be able to pinpoint what has resulted in a decrease or increase, and determine the appropriate actions to respond accordingly.

 

Bottom line don’t be afraid to ask for (outside) help. If you’re not sure how to approach social media or keep on top of it, consider asking a team with social media expertise to evaluate your current performance. You might just find that outsourcing your social media could be a real benefit to your brand and your customers.

A First Step to Find Your Advertising Audience in Social Media

1920 700 Shout Out Studio

Finding the right audience in social media advertising can be a challenge – especially when you’re trying to get to find the ideal mix that gets you the most clicks, impressions, ROI and any other goals you and your digital marketing team are working toward. However, one of the easiest places to find your audience is already provided for you.

Your social media channels.

When was the last time you checked out your Pinterest or Twitter audience insights? In the depths of those often-overlooked tabs you just might find your answer. Anything from what their interests are, to who else they are following. Then what should you do? Create audiences within Facebook advertising for each platform and test it. They all might be a little similar, but each provides different insights into your audience’s interest.

Twitter has a “followers” tab you can check out that contains information from most unique interests, top interests to even who your followers are following. Use this information to fill out a custom audience. Are they interested in fashion, technology, music? Use their interest!

Pinterest audience interests are a little harder to find. You have to go to the analytics tab, then hit ‘interest’ (close to the top). Here you will see what boards/interests your Pinterest audience is interested in. Design, healthy eating? You can create a new audience in Facebook to send ads out to. Compare and contrast Twitter and Pinterest by running the same campaign back-to-back and seeing which works best.

Don’t forget Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is a fantastic tool to use to see where your audience is coming from to your site. The best part is you can use that information to your advantage when targeting audiences to advertising using Facebook (or other platforms).

When all of the Facebook audiences have been tested you can take that same strategy to other platforms. Try doing the same test on Pinterest or Twitter! It’s all about working with what you already have in front of you, and then testing other audiences as you go!

Goal Setting for Digital Marketing

880 461 Nathaniel Seevers

As with personal goals, it’s never too late to start setting digital marketing goals. No need to wait until the New Year or fret if you don’t get them set by the end of January.

Yes, it’s never too late for setting digital marketing goals, though it can be too early. Let me explain; goal setting for digital marketing can benefit from some level of baseline knowledge. How would you know what to aim for if you have no idea what is realistic for your business?

Build a Baseline to Reference

If you’re new to measuring certain aspects of your digital marketing, consider taking 1-3 months to measure and record, developing a baseline from which to create your goals.

If you have been measuring for a period of time these numbers should be part of your goal setting decisions.

What Else to Consider

Well, that baseline number up there of course but also:

  • The platform averages for your industry. For example, comparing Average Reach on Twitter for a Logistics company and a Clothing Retailer may be like comparing apples to alligators.
  • Direct competitor performance.
  • Age and level of awareness of the business
  • Age of the business’ presence on a certain platform

Know what to measure

Each platform/channel/area of effort (whatever you want to call it) will have relative metrics to track but all of this should be feeding into a big picture marketing plan with big picture marketing goals. These are the details, these are the brush strokes that make up your masterpiece for the month/quarter/year/etc.

Let’s use two major social platforms as an example of what to measure:

On Facebook

  1. Engagement – How people are interacting with your content on Facebook
  2. Reach (but be aware that organic reach is tough to come by. Any significant Reach is likely to come from paid promotion, at least to get rolling and build awareness).
  3. Page Likes – Despite some reports, page Likes aren’t just a shallow metric to measure your popularity. Quality Page Likes help to amplify your Reach and increase the effectiveness of your Facebook Advertising.
  4. Negative Impact – Diving into the Page Likes section within your Facebook Insights shows you a Net Likes section. Here you can quickly see a count for Unlikes of your Page. Unlike aren’t uncommon, even for the most popular brands, but if you can correlate any large sections of Unlikes to recent posts, ads and/or frequencies listen to your audience and make adjustments. On the ads in particular, check out this article on reducing ads fatigue.

On Twitter

  1. Impressions – numbers of times users saw your tweet
  2. Engagement Rate – the number of engagements (clicks, retweets, favorites, follows, replies) divided by the total number of impressions. This data is more valuable month over month than say day-to-day.

Depending on your marketing and business development goals you’ll likely be looking to convert that social activity to leads and ultimately projects/sales. That’s where your website goals and data comes in.

Website Metrics to Track (Google Analytics):

  1. Sessions/Users – this is the number of visits to your site and the number of Users (or visitors) making up those visits.
  2. Referrals – where those Users are coming from and what they’re clicking on to get to your site. Tracking URLS for your social media sites can help better clarify those actions.
  3. Exit Pages – unlike Bounce rate which can vary based on page content and the desired outcome from your landing pages, Exit Pages allow you to take a closer look at when your visitors are leaving on their journey through your site. From here you can take educated actions that help carry the visitor closer to conversion.
  4. Conversion Rate – Just like it sounds, how your website is performing based on the number of visitors who reach the desired goal (conversion)
  5. Top 5 or 10 Pages – Look at these monthly to help connect the dots between new content and social media efforts with onsite traffic and behaviors.

Set “Stretch But Don’t Snap” Goals

In the end goals should be aggressive but obtainable – realistic but take some of your best effort to achieve. Seeing your team start to close in on goals can be great motivation. On the flip-side, seeing a gigantic gap between where you are and where you want to get, can lead to a serious case of throwing in the towel.

Tell us about your digital marketing goals or if you have a question fire away in the comments or on twitter. Grab more digital marketing insights here.

Photo credit: Jeff Turner

Keep Organized With These Small Business Marketing Extensions

1920 700 Colin Smith

Marketing for a small business can get hectic, time-consuming, and unorganized. Between the hundreds of accounts, sites, and content resources used everyday, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Luckily there are plenty of browser extensions that can be added to your web browser to help keep your efforts clutter-free. Here are some great extensions that the Shout Out team uses to stay sane:

Awesome Screenshot:

Screen capturing is nothing new, but Awesome Screenshot is the most versatile and capable screenshot tool I have come across. It allows you to capture either a selected area, the directly visible area, or the entire web page. After you have selected your screenshot, you can annotate it in a variety of ways, and even censor sensitive information. The final benefit of Awesome Screenshot is it gives you the option to email, share the url, or save the image. Showing edits needed on site pages, individual posts or photos has never been easier.

 

Hootlet:

If you’re in charge of social media for your small business, there is a good chance you are no stranger to HootSuite. Hootlet is their browser extension which helps you save time and effort. You can post to multiple social media profiles at once, schedule your posts, and find targeted content all without leaving your browser window.

bitly:

bitly is a link shortening/ branding extension that does so much more. After you create custom bitlinks, you can then manage and review their performance from the analytics and reporting from bitly. It keeps your social sharing looking clean, and helps you track click-throughs.

 

riffle:

Riffle is the Twitter dashboard you’ve been looking for, assuming you were looking for a Twitter dashboard. Get a Twitter profile’s vitals, influence assessments, top shares, usage and it’s activity rate all in a single dashboard. It’s a great way to learn about your followers or potential influencers.

Pocket:

Save the content you find for later with Pocket. This nifty extension will save, categorize and sync content so you can access it later, from any device. Pocket is a great way to curate articles, videos, or photos to share from your brand’s social media accounts.

MozBar:

The MozBar browser extension provides free SEO metrics and data. You can search keywords, locations and individual search engines. MozBar also lets you analyze on-page elements with their Analyze Page overlay. It provides you with a break down of social shares and metrics. Save time on SEO research by adding MozBar to your extension arsenal.

Other useful extensions that will save you time and effort:

Check My Links:

As the name suggests, this extension is a link checker that scours through your page or post and will make sure all your links are working. Once it’s done it will highlight working links in green, and it highlights the broken links with red. This is a great time-saver, especially when you’ve been editing content for an entire day.

RiteTag:

It can be hard to know which hashtags to use on your social media posts. RiteTag takes the guessing out of it by grading your hashtags on a three point scale. Updates shared through RiteTag are also monitored for click-throughs, replies, retweets, favorites, and follows.

Check out the extensions above and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear of any extensions you use that have simplified your daily workload.

JetBlue Uses Social Media for a Social Movement

1920 700 Gretchen Ardizzone

Social media is a powerful business tool, but it can also be an amazing vehicle for doing good. JetBlue recently caught my eye when I heard about what they were doing to embrace social media and create a social movement by giving back to their travelers in the form of social sharing. With their Fly It Forward Campaign, they’ve asked individuals to tell them “If you were given one flight to spread good where would you go?” The goal is to provide fliers with a ticket to make the world a little better with the one request that they pay it forward.

It takes the simple action of traveling and makes it something much, much more. It’s about what you will do when you get there. The brand is investing and empowering travelers to give them access to making their dreams real and doing something that truly matters. JetBlue Senior Vice President of Commercial, Marty St George said it best, “It’s easy to get caught up in the mechanics of travel and overlook the reasons why people travel. Everyone travels for their own reasons. It’s those stories, those connections with individuals that inspire us all.”

Fly It Forward started first with crewmembers nominating members of their communities they thought were worthy of a flight. Tameka was selected a first. As a director of I Grow Chicago, she provides a safe-haven for at-risk community members by connecting them through yoga, urban farming, art, and culture. Her purpose is to teach community ownership and help individuals realize that they matter. With JetBlue, she had the chance to visit the United Nations as a delegate and learn from other communities who fight against similar obstacles in order to bring it back and share what she knows.

The next evolution of the experience is the process of passing it on. The beauty of it is that these individuals have never met. It’s not a good friend or a co-worker that they know who wants to go somewhere amazing. It’s about giving these travelers a chance to hear the stories of other like-minded individuals who want to make a difference or want to experience something that would be life-changing and passing on that same opportunity. You can follow the stories as they take flight and unfold on jetblueflyitforward.com and help continue the mission by nominating yourself or submitting a worthy traveler’s story through Twitter using #FlyItForward.

 

If your brand can take consumers to a place they never thought they could go, give them the vessel to do that. Whether it’s through communicating encouragement, empowerment, or physically providing them with the tools they need…that’s a powerful position to be able to do something good.

A Simple Guide To Marketing On Reddit

1920 700 Shout Out Studio

Everyone knows that social media marketing can be an incredibly powerful, and these days necessary, marketing tool. Most marketers gravitate to Facebook because it is easy to understand. The slightly more tech savvy will be engaged in twitter or maybe Pintrest. But very few marketers will dive into marketing on Reddit, and they are missing a world of opportunity.

Reddit can be a scary place for a marketer:

  • It doesn’t have a beautiful and slick UI like most of its social media brethren. In fact, it’s more like the craigslist of social media.
  • It’s divided into thousands upon thousands of subreddits. More are added every day.
  • Its users are made up of some of the most tech-savvy and skeptical people on the internet.

Although it’s ugly, incredibly divided, and its users are unforgiving, in my opinion, Reddit is one of the best places a marketer can be today. If you identify where your market is and speak to them in a genuine and honest voice, they can be some of the greatest influencers out there. If you’re interested in capitalizing on one of the best social media outlets in existence, here is my quick and dirty guide to help you do so:

  1. Identify your relevant subreddits

If you are thinking that you are just going to post a link to your blog or website and be on the front page of Reddit, you are sorely mistaken. Trying to land something on the front page is a waste of time. Instead, spend a good amount of time and find out where your incredibly active subreddits are. There is practically one for everything. The people that frequent these subreddits will be incredibly passionate about whatever it is that the subreddit is about.

  1. Become a part of the community

You’ve heard us say this a hundred times before but I am going to say it again. It is called SOCIAL media for a reason. You need to actively participate in the community to have success there. You may have thought you identified your perfect subreddit, but once you get active in it you may find out that is has an entirely different tone than what you thought it would have. Start out by commenting on threads and answering questions. Gradually work your way into posting links.

  1. Have something to say

Once you feel like you have become part of the community, don’t just start throwing up links to your website every day. People will sniff that self-serving type of stuff out super quick. You need to have something to say, and it needs to be good. After spending some time on the subreddit you should have a pretty good idea of what kinds of things people are really interested in. Take those interesting ideas and write something about it on your blog, or post something about it on the subreddit giving advice or asking questions. Don’t just start submitting links to your shop page or company website every other day to generate traffic.

Being successful on reddit, really just boils down to a few things; find the right people, be genuine, and don’t abuse it. As I said before, these are some of the most savvy people on the internet, if they sense one thing off about who you are and what you are doing you won’t get anywhere. However, if you’re smart about it and become a genuine person in their community, it will be one of your best audiences out there.

Social Media Success Summit – Part 1

1920 700 Shout Out Studio

This month we’re participating in Social Media Examiner’s 6th Annual Social Media Success Summit. The online conference focuses on all things social media with more than 45 of the world’s leading social media pros. Last year’s conference drew in 3,000 like minded marketers. Since we’re halfway through the conference, we thought we’d share a few highlights from some of our favorite sessions.

Twitter

Amy Schmittauer, founder of Savvy Sexy Social, hit home three key points: Be Human, Be Relevant, Be Giving, during her session on “How to use Twitter to Build Relationships that Lead to Business.” On the surface that may just seem logical in the realm of social media, but it’s how you do it that makes a difference.

Conversations are crucial. Amy advised “Listen and talk to people. If you do nothing but this, you’ll find success.” It shows people that you DO talk to people, and you’re listening and interacting. People judge a follow on how much you engage with your community. The nice thing is that Twitter discussions don’t take up the news feed, like tweets on your timeline, because its just a dialogue between two people. So go ahead and carry on.

How do you get more engagement on Twitter? Go find conversations!! Everyone who wants to have conversation isn’t necessarily looking for it. Find conversations you can be a part of, and tweet with people you follow. Or tweet with people who are following you, but maybe you haven’t followed them back yet. Check out their timeline, find out what they’re talking about, and if there’s something that interests you.

We’ve mentioned before how much we like Twitter lists, but Amy recommended taking it a step further for engagement and consider utilizing for a specific event, such as a conference. You can list speakers or acquaintances that you want to connect with before or after the conference.

Visual Content

Another presentation that caught our attention was, “How to Use Visual Content to Drive Massive Social Media Engagement,” by Kim Garst. The statistics that Kim provided on visual content were staggering:

  • Visuals are processed 60 times faster by the brain than text
  • 90% of all info that is transmitted to the brain is visual
  • 40% of visual content is more likely to be shared
  • 46% of people think website design is #1 in deciding if a company is legitimate
  • 65% of people are visual learners

With statistics like these backing up her presentation, it’s clear that companies who aren’t capitalizing on visual content are missing out. Kim also mentioned three key things to consider when creating visual content: 1) It’s not about you, it’s about them. 2) Consider what your audience cares about, outside of your product or service. 3) Your visual content has to appeal to your prospects’ lifestyle. Most importantly – Be Real! So many companies out there put out content that isn’t authentic. Kim advises that you post a photo of your co-workers ‘behind the scenes’ rather than stiff stock photos.

LinkedIn

Lastly we couldn’t resist the chance to check out Viveka von Rosen‘s session on “LinkedIn Prospecting Gold! 5 Steps to Finding, Engaging and Closing Leads with LinkedIn.” LinkedIn has huge applications from a B2B perspective, but many users seem to still struggle with how to get the most benefit out of it. Here’s a look at some of the advice that Viveka shared:

Like Google your profile must be optimized if you want to be found by prospects. Check your connections’ skills sections, and those are great keywords. For premium users, utilize the new keyword tool to incorporate keywords into your summary section, interests, and experience description. When you add keywords, add them to CONTENT! Two to one people will find you through the keywords in your content.

Save your searches. Once a week LinkedIn will send you an email of three leads that fall into that category from your searches. Seems kinda like a no brainer, right? When you search company pages don’t forget to click on “People You Know,” to see who you’re connected to. Find out what groups they’re in and you can join and look for an opportunity to connect. For a little extra help on any additional information you need, use an eGrabber Account Researcher tool to get phone numbers, email addresses, and public company information about a prospect.

Utilize LinkedIn Connected. It allows you to tag people or create lists according to what they are to you. And, because tags are private, you can send messages to a group of people. Viveka said it’s a little time consuming to set up, but worth it. You can also add private notes right on their profile. For example, a note about where you met someone or specifics of your conversation. You can also set up reminders to follow up with them.

Lastly, use messages as opposed to email because email can sometimes get caught up in spam filters. You’re 20% more likely to have your message read than an email.

We’re looking forward to the upcoming sessions covering video, content and Instagram marketing. Stay tuned for Part 2 of our highlights of the Social Media Success Summit.

 

 

Click Bait

Cut The Crap With Click-Bait

880 461 Shout Out Studio

Let’s all face it – Facebook isn’t what it once was. We are flooded with ad’s, promoted posts, and articles for companies we’ve never heard of. It’s a headache and a daily struggle to dodge these to get to the juicy stuff.

The other day I was scrolling through Facebook when I noticed a little birdie complaining about how misleading titles and descriptions are for articles shared on Facebook. Quite frankly, I have to agree with her. It has become a game for companies like Harper’s Baazer and Huffington Post who post multiple articles on facebook a day. Both add “descriptions” of what they claim lay inside the article…  However, it’s a game of whether or not the description/title is telling the truth.

Here is what my little birdie says on her Facebook post: “Case in Point: The title of this article has no reference or direct correlation to the story. In the article, they make no comment or quote on the people who have too much time on their hands.”Elite DailyPhoto credit: Elite Daily

This new trend is called Click-Bait. According to Amy Porterfield, “Click-bait is when a link is shared in a Facebook post with a title that sparks curiosity but does not really tell people what the article is all about. This essentially teases people to click a link but does not give them all the information so they are not exactly sure what they’re going to find on the other side of that click.”

The good news? Facebook is cracking down. On August 25th on the Facebook Newsroom page, they stated. “We’re making two updates, the first to reduce click-baiting headlines, and the second to help people see links shared on Facebook in the best format.”

Cheers to that, Facebook.

How can you help the cause? The way Facebook determines whether or not something is Click-Bait is by how much time you spend on the article you click on. If you click on an article and read it for a few minutes, Facebook measures that to be something worthy of reading. If you click on the article and immediately click out of it, Facebook recognizes that is an issue.

Click-bait making you crazy too? Drop a line in the comments and share.

Photo Credit: Greg Westfall

Social Media Help From Your Friends

776 415 Shout Out Studio

Launching a new brand on social media is difficult. It takes time to build your audience, find your voice, and win the attention of your target market. But what if you could speed that up a little bit? How you ask? Just ask your friends. Your friends, whether they are personal or professional, probably have a sizeable head start on your social media presence, and their reach is exponential. A current side project of mine with a non-existent budget has lead me to try this technique to boost our following on social media networks across the board as well as promote a single message in a well orchestrated social media blast. Here is what I did to plan this. read more

Google Plus Communities to Join

Five Google+ Communities You Should Join

880 461 Shout Out Studio

If you have a Google+ account that you use actively, you know about Google+ communities. Similar to LinkedIn Groups and Facebook Groups, it’s a categorized “community” based on a specific topic where anyone who has a Google+ page can join, chat and participate in the conversation. Below are five types of Google+ communities that are helpful and useful. These are prime examples of what a Google+ Community has to offer for your business, or personally:

Google+ Help Community

Let’s face it, when you first start poking around Google+ it can be quite confusing to get the ball rolling. There’s a community for that. Google+ Help Community is a place for your Google+ related questions. There are 338,595 members of this community that are able and willing to help you with all of your Google+ needs. This community has a wide range of topics from general help, to Google+ tips and tricks.

Apple Google+ Community

For all those Apple, Inc. users and lovers there’s an Apple Google+ Community. This community has 132,976 members who post about news about Apple, their devices, apps and everything else related to the company. The topics for discussion range from questions and answers about Apple product to trending topics about iOS updates (the most recent topic is about the iOS8 update issues).

Google Small Business Community

This is a community where businesses can get the help they need to succeed on the web by connecting with experts and each other. In addition to regular Hangouts and Q+A’s with Google+ members, trusted advisers and industry leaders, you’ll also see an assortment of other topics such as #BizBits, stats, tips, quotes and trivia for everyday learning, and #AskanAdvisor, which is where you can ask a question online to a professional. This community is backed by Google+ Your Business and has 73, 156 small business members.

Healthy Living Community

This community is killing it in the health and fitness section of Google+ communities. This is a community all about living a healthy lifestyle. The topics discussed are about health, diet, exercise, weight loss, fitness, and workouts. Anything in the health and fitness category that you have questions about, this community is meant for you. With 107,925 members the discussions are always interesting and about trending health topics.

Medicine & Biology Community

For health and science experts, this community is something you should check out. The goal of this community is to share and discuss technological advances in medicine and biology, focused on human health and longevity. With 36,822 members all discussing topics from basic biology, to immune systems, to synthetic biology. This is an all-around impressive Google+ community.

Do you have a favorite community? Share with us below!

Photo credit: ruurmo

Brand Building: Attracting Your Ideal Audience

776 415 Colin Smith

Whether you are establishing a new brand or taking a closer look at an existing brand, one key aspect to take into account is your audience. Furthermore, are you attracting the audience you want? Successful brands are able to identify and align with their audience in a way that is both natural and genuine.

The ability to identify your ideal audience allows you to establish a connection between your brand and your consumers. Having a clear understanding of the type of consumer you want gives you an advantage when it comes to the rest of your marketing efforts. Even if you’re a small business and don’t want to exclude a potential customer, identifying your target audience is crucial to branding.

Values: The values of your company should be apparent in your brand. Are you a company who values tradition and quality? Or do you value innovation and contemporary style? These types of questions should be able to be conveyed simply through your branding. That’s why luxury brands don’t waste resources by trying to reach out to every consumer. That’s also why their branding reflects the exclusive lifestyle they want to attract.  They focus on being selective, high quality, and not available to the everyday consumer. By doing this they set themselves apart and attract the type of customer they want.

Social Media Engagement: What kind of audience does your brand attract on social media? Is it a younger crowd who enjoys entertaining and humorous content or is it an older crowd looking for engaging and informative content. Does it mirror the type of people you hope to attract as customers, or are you missing the mark? Social media is a great way for companies to see where they stand when it comes to branding. It gives both the consumer and the company an opportunity to give direct feedback to one another.

Be Original: It’s easy when developing a brand to look at what is working for other companies. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing to do for inspiration and ideas, it is a bad thing to do when you try and mimic another brand. To stand out from the crowd and attract the attention of people, you have to find your own image. Even though two car companies are fighting for the same customers, they tend to go about it from a different angle. They have their own story to tell, and that story is unique to them. Find your unique story and use it to build a brand that is all your own.

Don’t Over-do It: Trying too hard to appeal to your audience can come off as just that, forced. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, and don’t be something you’re not. Find the middle ground that keeps true to your company, but is also attractive to the audience you hope to gain. This middle ground will be the best opportunity for success.

Lastly, think about the long haul. Build a brand that can be adapted over time while staying relevant to your target audience. Building a brand for the now is setting it up for a complete overhaul. Keeping the long-term in mind will help you build a brand that can stand up to the test of time. You will always need to adapt because your audience won’t stay the same forever, but adapting is easier than changing.

Photo Credit: Roger Reuver

Do Companies Really Need Social Media?

1920 700 Shout Out Studio

A few months ago my brother and I were out to dinner talking about work and the topic of social media came up. In the discussion, he said, “Our company would never use social media because we don’t need it.” I stared at him for a few seconds… wheels turning, gears grinding, ready to give him my full on social-media-rules-all speech when abruptly, I stopped. He said, “Tell me… why would we need it?” Truth is, I couldn’t answer him. It took me a few days to come to the realization that I couldn’t answer him because he was right, his company doesn’t need it. They won’t ever need it.

Before you judge me too harshly, answer me this: Name one company that absolutely needs social media, one that can’t live without it. Social media isn’t a need. It’s a want. It’s a benefit. It’s an asset to you, your company, and your brand. Social media is a modern luxury that is helping brands around the world to create brand equity in the minds of their consumers.

Just now, Coca-Cola is running their “Share a Coke” campaign that is absolutely killing it. It’s personal and it’s fun. All over social media “Laurens” and “Jessicas” are posting photos with their Cokes, Diet-Cokes, and Coke Zeros. The couple below has even leveraged the popularity of the Coke campaign to add a little something special to their big announcement. This shows that Coca-Cola doesn’t need social media to kill it. It helps them kill it. Simple as that.

 

 

Photo Credit: bjornmeansbear via Compfight

Adapted by Shout Out Studio

wanelo

Why Wanelo?

880 461 Gretchen Ardizzone

It’s a question that has been on my mind for quite some time now. For those that aren’t familiar, Wanelo, is a social platform that brings together stores, product and people all in one place. The platform whose name stands for “Want, Need, Love” launched in 2010 by web designer Deena Varshavskaya.

We know that social commerce is definitely catching on, but Wanelo has always seemed like an anomaly to me. I was an early adopter and joined in 2010 then quickly returned to my more comfortable and preferred playground on Pinterest (which many compare it to). However, this could be one for the ages. I’ve heard from my younger counterparts and read the reports that it popular with the millennial consumer.

Who’s There?

So with 11 million users, I thought it could be time to check back in. I haven’t been too far though, with my mobile app still installed and observantly paying attention to big brands like Nordstrom, West Elm, and Sephora who collab with the emerging social site.

How does it work?

Wanelo works like a direct to buy resource. Skip the hunt through blogs and unrelated resources to find the product you’re looking for, this resource allows you to directly buy from your favorite finds in your feed. You don’t complete the transaction on the site, but it connects consumers with the eCommerce site where they can buy the product. Wanelo then pockets a portion of each sale. Instead of grouping items on boards like “Collegiate Gear” like you’d find on Pinterest, the items are sorted by price point. The site also shows what’s trending and allows you to save your items on your wish list or as a gift, also while telling you the popularity of collective site “saves” for that item.

Why Consider?

If you’re looking to capture the attention of younger consumers and provide the most direct access to your product (ease and convenience), it could be a platform to consider. Don’t forget many millennial consumers are frugal with their spending, so the shop by price point is an appealing feature.

Nordstrom recognized the potential: “We noticed mid-last-year that there was lots of inbound traffic coming from Wanelo, so we quickly jumped in to create an account,” said Bryan Galipeau, director of social media at Nordstrom. “Within five months, we had a million followers, the fastest growth of any of our social media accounts.”

Not yet convinced? Consider these facts as to why you might “Want, Need, Love” to have Wanelo in your online strategy plan:

  • Over 7 million products are saved 8 million times a day
  • Wanelo users spend an average of 50 minutes per day on the site
  • Products from over 300,000 stores, including major retailers to small independent shops

Earlier this year, Wanelo’s Creator and CEO, Deena Varshavskaya was named to Fast Company’s 2014 Most Creative People list. Keep an eye out for the commerce platform, I think it’s got huge potential to evolve.

Photo credit: Wanelo

 

microphone

Talk to Me: Great Brand Voice Examples

880 461 Shout Out Studio

Character and personality are expressed through a brand’s tone-of-voice. Whether it be genuine or authoritative, for example, these are the characteristics that define your communications. From a simple tweet to an advertising campaign, your voice tells people who you are. Here are some of the best examples of great brand voice.

Colin – Newcastle Brown Ale

The voice of honesty: it has some redeeming qualities, especially for brands. One brand, Newcastle Brown Ale, decided it was going to capitalize on the lack of honesty in beer commercials. They teamed up with Droga5 to create their “No Bollocks” campaign, which they have used on every form of media since. From TV commercials (they are well worth a watch), to drink coasters, to street advertisements, Newcastle has stayed consistent in calling out other beers and their advertising tactics. Another way they carried their No Bollocks campaign forward was during last year’s Super Bowl when they launched “If We Made It.” Because what’s more fun than teasing other companies who spent millions of dollars for their Ad spots during the big game? To Newcastle, nothing. Instead they made they’re own versions of every commercial with storyboards and posted them to IfWeMadeIt.com. They’re videos of an annoyed Anna Kendrick and confused Keyshawn Johnson got almost as much attention as the Ads during the game.

Newcastle doesn’t mind being brash and honest, and it has paid off for them both in sales and social awareness. Their Twitter and Facebook pages are very active, and they get a lot of responses from fans and customers. Side-note: they are currently giving a dollar to every new follower on Twitter. They have even moved on from calling out other beer companies by allowing fans to call out their friends on bad social media behavior. It’s refreshing and entertaining to see a brand that takes itself a little less seriously.

Nathaniel – Harry’s

You know a company has the tone right when you can easily create a person in your head, a visual representation for the words you’re reading. That’s Harry’s. It doesn’t hurt that the company name could be the first name of someone you know.

Harry’s is an online, low cost provider of high quality men’s shaving products. Yes, something like Dollar Shave Club but it’s a much different tone. It’s situations like these, comparing brands of a similar business model, where you can really begin to define what brand voice means.

Harry’s is calm. From the website copy to the photography pairing to the packaging instructions, Harry’s tells you exactly what you need to know. They’ve even created an easy going lifestyle blog-a-zine called Five O’Clock.

It all wraps up into confidence without the fuss. There’s no chest beating just the occasional subtle quip. Harry’s communicates a vibe of approachable sophistication and accessible quality that allows you to enjoy the purchase experience and leaves you feeling good having the products on your shelf.

Luke – Chipotle

A great brand voice not only resonates with their target market but also creates emotion in them, and in this case hunger as well. In my opinion Chipotle has developed a great brand voice. It carries through consistently across their billboard ads, radio spots, and web presence. The key to their brand voice is knowing their target market and creatively communicating what they care about directly; ingredients. Chipotle effectively displays their commitment to quality ingredients constantly. So much so that often I can name their chicken purveyor or where their cilantro is coming from. They know what their message is and they communicate it in an interesting way. That is a great brand voice.

Sonya- Burt’s Bees

Burt’s Bees products have become a staple in purses, pockets, backpacks, diaper bags and more. Their message has helped inspire a host of other natural personal care products. How did they do this? Simple, they take care of their customers by providing quality products, and they take care of the environment in the process.

Every time I reach for my bright yellow lip balm and apply, I know I can trust that there’s only good stuff going on my lips, and I’ve got Burt to thank for that. Thanks Burt.

Gretchen – Birchbox

When it comes to beauty products it can be a little overwhelming in understanding what’s going to work and what’s not. I’ll tell you firsthand that I constantly suffer from buyers remorse when I purchase a product that leaves me dissatisfied. So you could say that I would normally stick with what’s tried and true…until I was introduced to Birchbox.

The online subscription based beauty (and grooming) sampling program was launched by young entrepreneurs, Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp, in an effort to help cut through the clutter and find products that really work. Products are curated by the Birchbox staff and uniquely selected for you based on your beauty profile.

The brand experience unfolds as you open the box. Each month’s Box is created with a theme, for example this month’s is “Away We Go,” with all the travel-ready sample size essentials you could need for taking that road trip, staycation or far-flung adventure.” The products are introduced with a personal card from Katia, Hayley and the Birchbox Team.

The helpful guide through the beauty world doesn’t just end with your Box though. Their site is chock full of inspiration, information and advice through articles, videos, interviews, and even guest bloggers.

Through their friendly, fun approach and genuine voice, people feel inspired to try new products and have the confidence in their purchases. They not only inspire you to try new things but to share with others what you love.

Marsh – Shinola

One of the oldest names in America has reemerged and has one of the best brand voices going today. Shinola (yes as in you don’t know S@#$t from Shinola) has recreated itself in Detroit.

And what are they doing? They are leveraging everything they can about Detroit; its downfall, the loss of manufacturing jobs and the American passion for manufacturing excellence, into one of the best brand voices going. They are single-handedly positioning themselves as the new American model for manufacturing. They are retraining auto workers to make watches, they are bringing back American pride in everything they make and the way they are telling their story is spot on.

Reemergence, retooling, resurrecting and all in one of the most devastated cities in the country. They are staking their claim on what can be done in America with American ingenuity and know how. From handcrafted leather good, to some of the best bicycles available in the country, to watches assembled in their own Detroit plant they are committed to reinvigorating the American story of great products made in this country by great people who care about what they are doing.

From their website

“Why not accept that manufacturing is gone from this country? Why not let the rust and weeds finish what they started? Why not just embrace the era of disposability? And why didn’t we buy a warmer coat before we moved here? Through three Detroit winters, we’ve asked ourselves these questions. And worked not to find our answer, but to build it.

Because we don’t think American manufacturing ever failed for being too good. Our worst didn’t come when we were at our best. It happened when we thought good was good enough. “

Like it, wait until you watch their video, “Why Open a Watch Factory in Detroit.

 

Photo Credit: Яick Harris

kid with sunglasses

Seasonal Social Media Campaigns

880 461 Gretchen Ardizzone

In retail, cadence calendars are the crux of keeping the in-store environment fresh with seasonal floor set changes to window and graphic signage programs. But do you consider seasonality for your online experience? Social media is a great way to connect your in-store environment with your online presence. After all, your customers don’t live in your store, but they’re (almost) always online. Here are a few examples of how brands are using social media to celebrate the seasons.

Kate Spade 

As summer is often the season of travel, Kate Spade launched an Instagram campaign to build off their “Live Colorfully” tagline. And you know “Kate” doesn’t just live colorfully, but she “Travels Colorfully” too. The brand launched a contest to encourage followers to show how they #TravelColorfully for a chance to win a $250 Kate Spade New York gift certificate. Now through the end of August fans can submit their photos of their colorful travel using the hashtag. Giving the fans some inspiration, the brand shared some other own associates’ colorful travels. And the benefits for Kate? A plethora of user generated content for them to use!

They also recently launched a giveaway in partnership Travel + Leisure (who I think knows a thing or two about travel) to visit their stores to enter  a “Make Waves in Rio” sweepstakes to win a sunny escape to Rio de Janeiro, a $1,000 gift card, and a summer-ready tote filled with the season’s essentials. The promotion takes place online, but ultimately encourages fans to come in-store.

This two-part approach, campaign and giveaway, satisfies both the in-store and online shopper who may not have access to a Kate Spade New York store. A great way to reach multiple audiences.

Anthropologie

If you’re not lavishly traveling around the globe like the Kate Spade fans, Anthropologie is capturing the customer who plans to entertain at home this summer. Looking for ideas and trends in outdoor entertainment venue, the brand lunched a Pinterest #PinToWin contest. Pinners were encouraged to create their own boards around summer gathering themes like cocktail parties and poolside lounging; each pin identified with the hasthags #Anthropologie and #PinToWin. Three winners will be selected to win the  “Ultimate Outdoor Spread,” $500 worth of Anthropologie dining and entertaining items of their choosing.

What’s interesting about this contest is that it doesn’t require participants to pin only Anthropologie product, but it gives participants free range to incorporate whatever product brands they want in their boards. By doing this it doesn’t limit the consumer to existing products, and helps Anthropologie identify what future products might be of interest for the brand to create. It also gives them an opportunity to spot any new outdoor trends, for example popular colors, patterns or even new themed events.

Travelocity

Sometimes it’s just as simple as a statement. In this case, “I wanna go.” The Travelocity social media contest featured on both Twitter and Instagram encouraged followers to share their dream destination with a photo or just a tweet the hashtah #IWannaGo. Two winners were selected from thousands that submitted to win the trip of a lifetime. Check out this brief video featuring the brand’s ornamental globetrotting garden gnome, Roaming Gnome, promoting the contest.

While the contest was relatively simple for participation, there’s more to it said the brand’s CMO, Bradley Wilson. “It’s a way to celebrate the universal truth of wanderlust and to encourage travelers to share their travel dreams with others,” he said. “Whether it’s booking a quick trip to see family and friends or traveling to far-off lands and exotic destinations, we want to hear about it…we also want to help you get there. We want to know, where do you wanna go?” The brand also cleverly ran advertising spots during commercials for the Amazing Race; an audience which one might think would be inspired to travel the world.

Seasonal social media campaigns and contests have tons of benefits for brands when executed properly. The goal should be bigger than just gaining a following (which is okay too), but use it as an opportunity to learn something about your followers, fans, and customers.

Photo Credit: Boudewijn Berends

Instagram

Instagram: Behind the Scenes of Business

880 461 Marsh Williams

A few weeks ago we wrote about our favorite people to follow on Instagram, but we didn’t really talk a lot about how to use Instagram for business. Thankfully we’ve been provided a great example by Beauty’s Most Wanted.

Beauty’s Most Wanted teams up with Stylemakers to develop custom product lines for cosmetics and skincare which are all sold through Costco pop-up shops and online through their website.

Last week they had a video shoot with one of their Stylemakers, Jenna Hipp and they literally turned their Instagram account over to her during the shoot. The result, a great inside look at what goes on to make all those great images we see every day and usually don’t think much about.

Not only did Beauty’s Most Wanted give fans a look behind the curtain, they also got to promote their end product. Followers got a great sense of the fun and professionalism behind the brand and it’s clear everyone had a great time. Think about this as an approach for your company, products, and brand. Use Instagram to give followers an inside view of your organization, how your products are made, or who the people are behind the scenes that work so hard to make all of this happen.

In the end social media is about engagement and this is a great example of how to engage customers with your brand. A big Shout Out to the marketing and creative team at Beauty’s Most Wanted. Thanks for the lesson on how to Instagram right.

 

Photo Credit: Jason A. Howie

© 2013-2018 Shout Out Studio, LLC