The Importance of Buzz Building

While I hope to continue this blog in the future, this will be one of the last posts I make that directly pertain to my emerging media class. Because of this, I wanted to leave you all with some common buzz building techniques that can be utilized to increase blog traffic. Blogs can be extremely important to marketers and useful in taking your brand’s exposure and content to the next level. Below I have outlined several ways that new bloggers can easily build buzz and increase content exposure to set a blog up for success.

When considering successful blogs, building traffic and buzz to the site is just as important as producing quality posts and regular content. A blog without readers is essentially useless. There are many simple techniques that require little effort and can be implemented immediately to assist bloggers in driving traffic and building buzz for their content. First, all bloggers should invite family and friends to follow and actively engage in the blog. Friends and family can often be a blog’s most loyal advocates. This technique also allows bloggers to establish an initial, solid base of followers to create buzz and get some positive or constructive feedback early on. In addition to inviting family and friends to follow a blog, bloggers should initially engage and participate in their blog’s community by responding to reader comments. A blog with an active community builds upon itself and responses ensure that readers feel valued.

Second, another simple way to build buzz around a blog is to leverage social media by actively participating across readers’ platforms. In today’s world, social media and blogging go hand in hand. Social media platforms allow bloggers to distribute posts and new content in a variety of ways. Not only can bloggers tweet about new posts or share a blog link on a Facebook post, but also submit posts to social platforms such as Reddit.com and StumbleUpon.com for increased exposure and traffic. In addition, a simple “Share This” link or button can be added to a blog post that allows readers to share content across various social media sites. Posts that are shared widely across social media can potentially rank higher in Google search engine results also. With this technique, bloggers should keep in mind that social media should be used as a form of audience engagement, not just self-promotion.

Lastly, bloggers can build buzz by finding similar niche blogs, following them, and then actively engaging on them through comments and sharing. By adding insightful and interesting comments to other blog posts, bloggers can drive traffic to their own blog through visits from other bloggers and active commenters that are interested in your insight and content topics. Confident bloggers can also take this technique a step further and publish a guest post on a well-known blog. Blog owners will appreciate receiving a quality article for free and, in turn, interested readers will visit your blog to learn more and explore the rest of your content.

What are some ways that you build buzz around your blog? Let me know below in the comments.

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Digital Marketing Stats From This Week

I want to share some quick and interesting facts surrounding the digital landscape as we know it. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should know that emerging media and digital technologies are taking the world by storm. You can view the entire AdWeek article here, but in short, here are 7 interesting digital marketing stats from the past week:

  1. 44% of males and 42% of females are now using ad blockers
  2. Video views on Twitter have increased by 150 times in the last year
  3. Facebook ad impressions grew 10% last quarter
  4. Research shows that smartphone-based traffic from social networks increased 100% year over year
  5. Gawker readers spend an average of 2.5 minutes on its native ads
  6. Land Rover claimed that Facebook’s new Lead Ads unit reduced its cost per lead by four times
  7. Moviepilot predicts that the Steve Jobs biopic is going to be a box-office hit because the movie’s trailer has amassed more than 20 million Facebook and YouTube views.

It’s interesting to see digital marketing trends and how consumers are interacting with new tools and technology. What kind of digital media do you find yourself interacting with most? Let me know in the comments!

Interactive Technology at Sephora Gives Customers the Ultimate Shopping Experience

Digital technology has grown tremendously and it is important that marketers constantly look to the future and consider how each aspect of a business, both online and offline, can supplement each other to ensure an exceptional customer experience and continued success. Today, most retailers must ensure the seamless integration of both in-store and digital operations to survive. Beauty retailer Sephora has done just that.

Sephora is a digital pioneer in the beauty world and operates under a unique, open-sell environment while featuring numerous brands, including its own private label, across a broad range of product categories including skincare, color, fragrance, body, smilecare, and haircare.

Sephora is highly regarded as a beauty trailblazer, thanks to its unparalleled assortment of prestige products, unbiased service from experts, interactive shopping environment, and innovation.

Speaking of innovation, Sephora takes the cake as the first beauty retailer to launch a website (in 1999) and is one of the first retailers to utilize a mobile app.

What makes shopping at Sephora so enjoyable is this seamless integration between online and in-store. Taking an extremely customer-centric approach, Sephora recognizes that its customer base is predominantly cross-channel shoppers and has developed technology to ensure that both the online and in-store experience are as enjoyable and efficient as possible. Because digital is transforming the in-store experience for customers, Sephora has developed an amazing system that prioritizes using mobile to deliver a better in-store experience to consumers.

When shopping in-store at Sephora, customers are met with a multitude of tools to enhance their shopping experience. Beauty experts are available to discuss all needs and inquiries, along with providing full makeovers in the Beauty Studio to try new products and looks. Similarly, Sephora’s in-store experience includes SkincareIQ technology to help clients decide on the best products based on skin type and concerns, mobile POS for more efficient checkouts, and the Pantone ColorIQ device.

Bridget Dolan, Sephora’s VP of Interactive Media explains that “this device is a revolutionary foundation matching service being the first and only beauty system to scan the surface of the skin, assign an official PANTONE SkinTone number, and match a scientifically precise foundation shade from Sephora’s 1,000 foundations, brands, and formulas.

Next, the Sephora app allows in-store shoppers to scan any product with an iPhone to receive immediate customer reviews and similar products. All of these initiatives make Sephora’s in-store experience much more engaging and useful for clients while appropriately supplementing the company’s online presence as well.

Most recently, Sephora launched the “Beauty Board” concept. Beauty Board is a social platform that allows users to upload pictures of their own, self-created beauty looks. Users upload a list of the products they used to create the look, allowing others to shop the products directly at Sephora.com. For example, if you love how a new lipstick looks on a user, you can immediately add that exact product to your virtual shopping cart. Similarly, users who have uploaded specific looks with product lists can leave product reviews.

sephora-beauty-board

When a consumer utilizes Sephora.com, the Sephora app, and Beauty Board, she is met with an unrivaled online experience. Similarly, Sephora’s in-store experience is rivaled by few and provides clients with one of the most innovative and advanced experiences in retail today. Because of this, I am a lifetime Sephora shopper and supporter!

Sephora is a great example of a company that has successfully embraced the ways in which emerging media is changing the retail landscape. Have you ever experienced or utilized Sephora’s digital tools? Let me know in the comments!

Everything you need to know about Facebook Reactions and what it means for brands

Since the creation of Facebook, many of us have wondered when we would get a ‘Dislike’ button to compliment the social media platform’s ‘Like’ button. Especially today, with an ever-increasing amount of negative stories in the news, users feel that ‘liking’ a sad or negative post just doesn’t really cut it. While we may never get a ‘Dislike’ button- Facebook’s creator Mark Zuckerberg has consistently commented that he never intends to make one because it conveys too much negativity- the social media platform announced that it is introducing Reactions.

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What exactly is Reactions, you ask? A recent Mashable article explains that it’s a new feature for Facebook’s ‘Like” button that allows you to respond to posts with emojis. Acting as an extension of the existing ‘Like” button, the new feature works with any post on Facebook where you see the ‘Like’ button. Long pressing or hovering over the button will open up a panel of six different reactions- love, haha, yay, wow, sad, and anger- that you can add to a post. Each reaction comes with a corresponding emoji, while being counted and displayed beside the number of likes underneath a post. Just like a regular ‘Like’, users can only add one reaction to any given post.

As with many of Facebook’s updates, getting the Reactions feature will depend on where you live. Facebook users in Ireland and Spain will be the first to try out the feature for several test runs. Depending on results, the feature will be rolled out worldwide with no specific timeline announced yet. Since Reactions is still in it’s experimental phase, it is possible that changes will be made before it is available to the rest of the population.

While Reactions seem to be the closest users will get to a ‘Dislike” button, the new feature will also have an impact on businesses and brands. A recent AdAge article explores the various uses and implications that Reactions will have for marketers- assessing that the tool will ultimately be a better gauge for them. Reactions will offer a new, potentially more accurate way to measure sentiment. They could compliment and even improve upon the sentiment analysis that brands usually conduct through third-party firms that scrutinize the words people use in commenting on a brand’s post to determine how those people feel about the post.

“Reactions gives businesses a really crisp way of understanding on a multi-dimensional level how people are feeling about the things that they’re posting,” said Richard Sim, Facebook’s director of monetization product marketing.

However, once Reactions is available worldwide, Mr. Sim emphasizes that brands should not try to orient their ads around generating certain types of Reactions. Instead, businesses should post things that work to drive business value rather than optimizing for “love’ Reactions.

So what do you think? What are the positive and negative implications of Facebook’s Reactions feature for brands and marketers? Can you think of other ways in which marketers can leverage this new feature to drive traffic, sales, and awareness?

The people have spoken: mobile ads suck!

Just last month, apps to block mobile advertising held three of the top ten spots on the most downloaded list kept by Apple and are still dominating the charts. Newly released apps like Peace, Crystal and Purify have seen an instant surge in popularity since the new Apple iOS9 update.

Why the instant popularity? The new Apple update lets iPhone users enable them with the Safari browser for the first time. Safari users simply have to enable the apps in the Setting menu and are immediately shielded from pop-ups, auto-play videos, trackers, and other types of mobile advertising that can slow loading speeds and tie up web pages.

No annoying ads. Faster mobile capabilities. Sounds great, right? For many people, the answer is yes. However, a recent article posted to Mashable explores the implications of the new apps.

Those in favor of ad blocking capabilities argue the ethics of mobile advertising- explaining that ads are a threat to the free Internet and that they can be obnoxious and even sometimes harmful because of targeting and tracing capabilities. We can almost all agree that mobile ads are often intrusive and hostile.

Peace developer Marco Arment agrees, writing in his blog that “the ‘implied contract’ theory that we’ve agreed to view ads in exchange for free content is void because we can’t review the terms first- as soon as we follow a link, our browsers load, execute, transfer, and track everything embedded by the publisher.”

On the other hand, despite being extremely annoying or not, many websites producing these kinds of display ads depend on them as sole revenue sources with the company livelihood depending on them. Critics of the most popular ad blocking apps argue that they indiscriminately block ads- not just the annoying ones.

So what do you guys think? Are you for or against ad blocking apps?

A TV Station In Your Pocket

periscopeThis week I want to talk about Periscope- an app owned by Twitter that lets users share and experience live video directly from a mobile phone. Introduced in March, Periscope has grown to be wildly popular, reaching 1 million users with its first 10 days of operation. While we’re still in the embryonic stage of mobile live streaming, Periscope has raised the bar for all things social media. In terms of marketing, does the app have the potential to become a giant marketing channel? What are the positives and negatives associated with leveraging this platform?

For marketers, it seems that the opportunities Periscope can provide are endless. For starters, live streams already have a built-in audience of Twitter followers. Streaming video gives marketers and brands a chance to really engage some of their most interested followers. Live streaming even has the potential to engage the right audience as well as or more effectively than expensive commercials. Similarly, live streaming on Periscope facilitates some great, 2-way conversation on a large scale. The app also offers the potential for much deeper engagement on existing social channels- an engaged list of Twitter followers can easily be moved down and across a brand’s content funnel. Periscope also offers brands a way to consolidate and improve efficiency of existing social networks, rather than expanding to new channels.

So how can brands use Periscope? The Huffington Post and entrepreneuer.com has provided some great examples for brands to stay ahead of the game.

Announce special offers and contests

Periscope provides a fun and interesting way to announce special offers and contests, giving brands a new way to push instant traffic to their website. A live-stream audience is much more engaged than on other platforms, which presents an opportunity for much larger traffic surges.

New level of endorsement/influencer marketing

Brands can host a celebrity “take over” on the company Periscope for a live broadcast. Imagine the audience size if Taylor Swift took over a brand for an hour.

Showcase company culture and the people behind the brand

Periscope allows companies to take their customers on office tours, production facility tours, as well as introduce them to the faces behind the brand. The app allows big brands with easy direct access to help establish and build a personal connection.

Live Q&A sessions and instant feedback

Periscope connects brands to their customers in real-time. Hosting a live Q&A session is a great way to get instant answers to questions.

Sneak peeks and teasers

Companies can leverage Periscope to build up excitement and buzz right before a product launch. Shelf stocking views or new packaging designs can stimulate a “you need this” message in consumers’ minds. This direct to target-consumer advertising opportunity is priceless.

Twitter building

Ultimately, the value of Periscope will always be tied to Twitter. If nothing else, you can use Periscope to increase and enhance your Twitter followership.

What do you think of Periscope? How do you use it? Are there any other opportunities that brands can experience by leveraging this new app? Let me know in the comments!

When Social Media and E-Commerce Collide

We’ve all found crafting inspiration on Pinterest. Etsy goes a step further by offering custom items and crafts as an online platform for various shops and small retailers. But what happens when you mix social media and e-commerce together? Facebook is about to find out.

The social media company announced on Tuesday that it plans to make things a lot easier for companies to run their business through the site. It’s currently in the testing phase of turning its Pages feature, home to more than 45 million active Pages, into an online mall. The updates will include both Shopping and Services sections that will allow retailers to sell their products and service providers to highlight their offerings.

With more than 1.5 billion active monthly users, Facebook maintains that these updates are meant to make companies’ online presence more customized based on the type of business they are in. Similarly, the company believes that these changes can provide retailers with a one-stop-shop to build both brand image and sales. But can Facebook successfully convert users into shopper? Many have been quick to weigh in on the matter.

In a recent article posted to Forbes, several prominent figures within the marketing world gave their opinion. Chris Petersen, PhD., president of Integrated Marketing Solutions, believes that consumers have fallen into a pattern that regularly segments their social media.

“Facebook is still the portal of choice for interacting with family and friends, not a primary place to search for and buy products. Could a buy button work on Facebook? Yes, it if is an impulse buy or the consumer is at a point in their purchase path where they are ready to buy. But how many times do you go onto Facebook looking for product pages or purchase options? Even if a friend recommends something, where do you go? Typically not a product page on Facebook.”

On the other hand, senior marketing and business development consultant David Biernbaum, is in full support of Facebook’s most recent update.

“Facebook today is indeed Main Street, the town square, the gathering place and where people come to meet, talk and exchange. And yes, whether they realize it or not, it’s also a place where they want to make an easy purchase without having to go off-site. Most Facebook users will say negative things about this concept and idea, but most Facebook users will shop until they drop. You wait and see!”

What do you think? Will Facebook find success in its newest update? What are some ways that marketers can leverage this new platform in their favor?

The Kids Are Alright… Or Are They?

A great debate surrounds the topic of marketing to children. Is it ethical? How young is too young? Are there any advantages? What about negative consequences?

These questions, combined with the explosion of digital usage and interactivity among youth markets, have raised a lot of concerns for parents and critics alike. Focusing more closely on the Food and Beverage Industry, let’s talk ethics and age appropriation.

Over the past 10 years, the Food and Beverage Industry has received tremendous backlash for its marketing efforts directed towards children. Organizations within this industry that manufacture products considered less healthy such as fast food, processed/ junk food, and sugary drinks were particularly targeted to take action and change their ways. In 2006, The Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative was created as a voluntary, self-regulation program designed to encourage healthier dietary choices and lifestyles in children under 12.

CFBAI-criteria

While this initiative was a great start, critics argue that the self-regulatory nature of the program isn’t enough. Looking more closely at critics’ concerns, many argue that children this young aren’t psychologically or emotionally developed enough to accurately interpret advertising messages and poor nutrition choices lead to a multitude of health problems. Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, points out issues associated with marketing targeted at children ranging from unhealthy relationships with food to diminishing critical thinking skills.

While children under 12 may not be doing the actual buying, they influence more than $500 billion in purchases per year. So what are marketers supposed to do? One solution is to approach the issue from the perspective of education. Media Smart is an organization based in the UK that uses this approach to teach children how to better understand what advertising is, how advertising works, what its intentions are, and how to be critical of it. Since advertising encompasses every aspect of day-to-day lives, I think that advertising education can prove to be a useful tool when considering the youth market. Then again, this raises the question of if, when, and how much should children have to protect themselves from brands they interact with everyday?

What do you think? Does advertising belong in a child’s world, and if so, in what ways?

Why emerging media?

What is emerging media and why does it matter? Upon searching for a definition for emerging media, you will find that many different explanations exist. While emerging media can be described in a multitude of ways, I like to think of emerging media as ‘adaptive and innovative, interactive communication that progresses with technology trends’. While this may seem like a mouthful, this idea of emerging media works to entirely capture the topic’s concept.

Since emerging or ‘new’ media took hold of the marketing world, the relationship between brands and consumers has shifted from one-sided messages to an interactive conversation. Similarly, technology and innovative device advances have compacted this shift, allowing both brands and marketers to seize interaction opportunities in a variety of new and interesting methods.

Looking more closely at one example of how emerging media is influencing our day-to-day lives; the Golden State Warriors basketball team recently began using beacon technology through its partnership with 360Signal to provide the ultimate fan experience. Upon entering the arena, fans are met with welcome messages, offers for the team store, and free concession items through an integration of sensors with the Warriors mobile app. Similarly, additional consumer connection is done outside the app though various social media platforms, allowing the brand a larger scale in terms of communication and engagement.

Connecting to the consumer in an effective and innovative way is what emerging media is all about. The most effective brands have successfully mastered the communication process with consumers in ways they are most receptive and interested in. What do you think? What type of emerging media do you find yourself interacting with the most?

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