Are you ready to get eventive?

Since I was a young girl planning Barbie weddings, I have always been a planner. I love all the steps involved from creating the craziest ideas of snowboarding scavenger hunts to tea parties. Being involved in events is like summer camp to me, working long hours and having endless laughs while working hard to put on the best event possible. Now that I am involved in the business, I want to be the best event/project manager I can be and someday make my way into sports events and promotions.

Nicolas Mueller, Gigi Rueff, Bryan Fox - Lifestyle

I am currently enrolled in a project management class and we are about to start a huge group project. I know it is a scary thing to think about because group projects usually mean 1 lazy football player, 1 older person that can’t figure out a computer, 1 girl that is too busy on her phone, and me doing all the work. Because of this often recurring group dynamic, I have been more apt to work alone. NO! Not in this class, I want to move past the group dynamic, become a project leader and work on a team. But what will our project be? Well after some research these are the top event trends of 2013.

1. Crowd funding- For any low budget event where ticketing is simply not feasible and sponsors are nowhere to be found, calling on the community to collectively create an event gives ownership to many people. Those people will go out and market the heck out of this event like a stage mom are her daughter’s first recital, building awareness of the event.

2.Cities have become playgrounds- In Reno, we recently had an event called Social Media Day, where a few advertising agencies and local marketing professionals came together to create a team-based Instagram scavenger hunt all around the city. Incorporating social media, mobile devices and local businesses in an event creates earned media for everyone involved.

3. Photo booths- GIRL! i have been crazy about this trend since I was little, I am glad everyone is finally catching up. You can see photo booths at graduation parties, weddings and sporting events. They are a fun, nostalgic way to engage an audience, not to mention you can link the photos to your Facebook and increase engagement in your online presence.

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4. Flash Events- Many events and small businesses are being created on the spot, in a matter of one weekend. Barcamp.com is an example of an event where attendees show up and plan and execute an event in the matter of one day.

What are some events that you have attended that you think are awesome? Let me know in the comments below.

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Putting it all together

How are you going to tell your brand story using visual social media?

This video is used to showcase the things I have learned in Marketing 380- Internet Marketing. Throughout the course, I have developed an interest in content marketing and brand management. In the future, I hope to apply this knowledge to a career in the outdoor and extreme sports industry.

Telling your brand story in pictures

visual-content2The breakout trend of 2012 was visual marketing and this trend has continued to grow. People are realizing it is easier and more successful to post visual content. My last four blog posts have been all about how to use visual social media to build your brand.  Visual content is a way to increase engagement among users and encourage sharing across all online platforms. A successful marketing campaign will incorporate powerful images that will spark attention, eventually driving sales. If you’re not already convinced, here a four more reasons why visual content is on the rise:

  1. Businesses are able to show a product, rather than having to describe it. This helps to build trust in the brand and will put the product in the consumer’s mind.
  2. Visual content can aid in search engine optimization. Whenever someone is searching for a product, the captions and metadata will serve as a gateway to your company’s online platforms.
  3. Visual content helps with the globalization trend. Photos eliminate language barriers, therefore making your product appealing to a wide audience.
  4. Brand image may be enhanced by visual content. Using social media to post behind the scenes, employee and product photos will help to tell your brand story.

Visual Content on Facebook

In March 2013, Facebook redesigned their news feed to be more adaptable with the visual content trend.  “Photos on Facebook get 53% more likes and 104% more comments than a text post.  Posts that include a photo get 120% more engagement than the average post.” (Proactive Report)

There are 300 million photos uploaded to Facebook everyday and the website delivered 347 million ad impressions last quarter. Taking these statistics into account, it should be apparent that all marketers should incorporate Facebook into their visual marketing plan.

How can you build your brand using visual content on Facebook?

Customize your profile with a cover photo

A relevant cover photo will help to create a feel for your company as soon as a user arrives at your page.

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Using company logo as profile photo

Emphasizing your logo will inspire users to associate it with your brand, therefore building a strong brand image.

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Include a link with all photos

Including an inbound link to your website or other social media platforms will create more traffic to your site and allow you to steer your users exactly where you want them to go.
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Include visually appealing photos with posts

This may be one of the most important ways to inspire user engagement. Post photos that you would find interesting and appealing; entertaining content will keep users coming back for more. Many companies post employee, event, product or project idea photos; it all depends on the story you want to tell about your brand.

Share common content from other organizations

Facebook is a community and by sharing content of similar brands, you will strengthen this community. Collaboratively sharing other content will create a further reach of your own brand as well.

Inspire user collaboration through a call to action

Ask users to post photos with your product either through a contest or a status update. Through this, you will foster a better relationship with your users and gain a better understanding of your target audience.

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Although these are just a few ways that you can use visual content on Facebook, the possibilities are endless. The rise of websites and applications taking advantage of visual content is increasing, so it is important to incorporate these into your marketing plan. YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook are just the tip of the iceberg, so I suggest getting out there and looking into the plethora of other visual social media platforms.

What are your favorite visual social media sites? Do you think this trend will continue? Let me know what you think by commenting below or email me at winterdanielle90@gmail.com

Instagram your way to fame


“A picture is worth a thousand words”

We have all heard this saying, but in terms of the future of social media, sharing visual content will continue to dominate other content. A photo sharing application turned website that is gaining power as a social media marketing platform is Instagram.

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Instagram is a smart phone photo-sharing application created in October 2010. This platform allows users to take photos, apply filters and share these throughout their social media. A user can “follow” another user, and then “like” or comment on their pictures. With over 100 million users and recently acquired by Facebook, Instagram should be integrated into every marketing campaign.

The Basics of using Instagram

Building an Instagram profile with both an informative about me section and using brand logo as a profile picture, will build confidence with potential consumers.

Although most personal profiles feature pictures of food and self-portraits, businesses need a better strategy in order to engage followers.  Here are some guidelines for creating a successful Instagram strategy:

Focus on Brand

By focusing on your “brand”, a company’s mission and vision and the culture of the company can be conveyed through visual content. Deciding what kind of photos are going to be posted and how they will tell your “brand” story are both strategic decisions that need to be made before a profile is created. LuLu Lemon uses their Instagram to post photos of their flash mob yoga sessions and marathons they participate in, reinforcing their “Sweat Once a Day” slogan.

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Engaging Content

After deciding on the strategy you want to use, it is important to post photos that are visually pleasing. Photos that are interesting and engaging will encourage more followers. One way to give users a more human feel to your company is posting behind the scenes photos. Lulu Lemon posts pictures of their employees with gear on or participating in events (eg. LA Marathon). Another way to maintain engagement is vary the type of content posted, such as inspirational quotes, product photos and event photos.

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Find Revelant Followers

Doing research on competitor’s sites will help to find relevant potential followers. Research what type of photos they “like” and what hashtags they are using, therefore you can form your strategy, catering to your potential audience.

Power of Crowdsourcing

Instagram is similar to Twitter in the way that it uses the power of crowd sourcing for earned media. With Instagram, a user can “hashtag” any term or group of terms in the comment section of a photo. “Hashtags” are then grouped together and can be searched. These hashtags can be brand-specific, such as LuLu Lemon’s #thesweatlife, or generic, such as Patagonia’s #camping.

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A popular social media tactic is to host a photo contest on Instagram and promoting it throughout other online media. This is a great way to get exposure and gain a large amount of followers in a short time. National Geographic recently hosted a photo contest called “Untamed Americas”, where users could post a photo of the “Americas” with the hashtag #UntamedAmericas for the chance to win a Nikon digital SLR camera.

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 Share, Share, Share

The key to creating a successful integrated marketing campaign online is sharing content over all social media platforms. This goes for Instagram as well, there are options to share with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Email, Flickr, and foursquare. Hint: If you are going to connect your Facebook profile page, keep in mind that the hashtags have no significance.

Instagram is a promising new social media platform, but must have a planned strategy similar to any other. I believe that this may soon be the leader of visual content. Do you think that Instagram will continue to grow as rapidly? What are your favorite companies that have an Instagram? Leave me a comment or email me at winterdanielle90@gmail.com

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226014

http://www.internetmarketinginc.com/blog/exploring-the-visual-power-of-instagram/

http://www.seo-news.com/five-ways-brands-are-using-instagram-to-increase-engagement/

How Pinteresting

Pinterest is an invitation-only social bookmarking site, where users can share photos, as well as create themed image collections. It allows users to browse other collections, called “boards” for inspiration, “re-pin” images, and “like” images.  With the highest average amount of time spent compared to other social media sites and 12 million unique visitors per month, it is a powerful tool to be used by businesses. Pinterest accounts for 3.6 percent of referral traffic and has 10.4 million registered users, a majority of which are 25-34 year old women.Pinterest1

Pinterest is an effective marketing tool for businesses of every size. It can build strong relationships and loyalty among consumers, as well as bring new business. The nature of the “pins” allow for cross promotion and engagement between business and consumer. Now with all of these big words and amazing statistics, how would a business successfully implement a Pinterest strategy?

Let’s take it from the top:

In order to create an account, request an invitation from the main page or through a current member. Once given access to register, you may either use an email, Twitter, or Facebook to create an account. Now you’re ready to rock and roll!

From here, you will start pinning by either uploading your own photos or browsing other profiles for pictures to “re-pin”. The “boards” can be themed by activity, hobby, fashion, food, and a plethora of other categories.  A way that The North Face themes their “boards” is by sport and gender, such as men’s running or women’s yoga. These “pins” create a brand image for your company. I have listed a few guidelines to follow  to create a successful Pinterest presence. Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 10.19.18 AM

Create Visual Pinnable Content

-Post attractive, usable photos, text and videos. Varying the type of content will maintain engagement among followers and encourage loyalty.

-Use high quality images that are at least 800 pixels by 1000 pixels to bring attention to your other pinned content.

-Making content share-able, without the corporate marketing fluff attached is more attractive to consumers and builds trust.

Create Interesting “Boards”

“Boards” allow for companies to create feelings through the collection of pins. You can showcase the lifestyle behind your brand through names of boards, such as Whole Foods’ “Who wants dinner?!” board. This board has recipes with links to food blogs all over the Internet. Featuring original content will keep followers coming back to your board.

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 Integrate, Integrate, Integrate

Cross promoting is one of the secrets to creating a successful online integrated marketing campaign. Placing links on your website and blog will drive traffic to your Pinterest page.

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Encourage Participation

There are many ways that you can encourage participation on your Pinterest page, but the one of the most popular is creating a competition “board”, where guest pinners can post content they believe is relevant to the chosen topic. In turn, you can reward pinners with most “likes” or most “re-pins”; the possibilities are endless. The most important part of this step is just to communicate with other pinners by “re-pinning”, commenting on other “pins” and staying active on the site.

Referral Traffic

-Adding captions, categories, keywords, and hash tags will make your Pinterest page easy to find and navigate.

-Review your landing pages from your “pins” to ensure user will stay on your site.

Track Activity

Finally, keep track of the traffic to your site from Pinterest using analytics and track recent activity to your “boards”. Analyzing the activity on your site will allow you to tailor your content to the user and maintain engagement.

Pinterest is a powerful, engaging tool for a business’s online tool belt.  It is user-friendly and will allow you to remain in direct contact with your target market. Pinterest is essential to  bringing more traffic to your site and building a positive brand image.

Do you think Pinterest is just a fad or the next big thing? How do you use Pinterest in your business? Leave a comment or email me at winterdanielle90@gmail.com

http://upstart.bizjournals.com/news/wire/2012/12/19/ten-ways-to-use-pinterest-for-business.html

Red Bull’s YouTube Takeover

When talking about social media, most people think about Facebook and Twitter, maybe even Instagram, but forget about the powerful tool that is YouTube.

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According to a January 2013 study by CopyPress, video provides the second best ROI in comparison to other content marketing. YouTube has 800 million unique visitors per month and over 400 billion hours of video watched each month. It is spread across 53 countries and 61 languages, making it one of the most powerful tools on the Internet today.   YouTube is a video sharing website created in 2005, based on the idea of user generated content. The cost for YouTube is similar to other social media, but requires a higher level of digital knowledge. Users can comment on videos, subscribe to users, and share video on a multitude of other social media platforms. YouTube has grown to be a powerful tool for marketers because YouTube’s search algorithm offers users video suggestions based on their interests. This direct marketing basically tells people what to watch and seeks out potential customers. Many SEO experts have yet to penetrate the YouTube search market, but with YouTube being the third most visited site on the Internet, why wouldn’t businesses want to utilize video marketing?

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A company that has mastered the use of YouTube is RedBull. With over 516 million video views and 1.8 million subscribers,Red Bull is taking viral videos for actions sports by storm.

Red Bull is an Austrian energy drink company created in 1987, selling on average 4.6 billion cans per year, making it the most popular energy drink in the world. Since Red Bull’s inception it has gained a prominent role in the action and extreme sports world. By sponsoring athletes, hosting “Flugtag”, buying a Formula 1 race car, and putting on sports events worldwide; they have solidified their image as an extreme brand. Their widely known slogan, “Red Bull gives you wings” is used throughout their marketing activities and inspires many of their campaigns.

Red Bull joined YouTube in June of 2008, posting a video of professional BMX rider Kyle Strait demonstrating a BMX trick. Their how-to videos soon transformed into a personal vlog for athletes and videos of their sports events.  Throughout Red Bull’s YouTube history, you can trace their progression from solely summer sports to winter sports and beyond. Recently, Red Bull has expanded into rap battles, dance competitions, and art. Their YouTube channel does not show commercials for the drink, but implies that by drinking Red Bull anyone can achieve their goals. Red Bull is constantly trying to achieve greater things, break records and, overall be awesome! This brand culture is highly emphasized in their videos.

Throughout the years, Red Bull has had several international web series using YouTube as a platform. One named “Flugtag Roadies” gives a voice to the employees behind their flugtag event. Another series they have is named Red Bull Stash, which is a national scavenger hunt. Both of these videos are filmed both unprofessionally and professionally giving an authentic feel.

In early 2010, a man named Felix Baumgartner approached Red Bull with an idea to do the highest free-fall jump ever attempted. On October 14, 2012, Baumgartner and Red Bull put on a stratosphere dive over New Mexico, named Red Bull Stratos. During the process, Baumgartner broke the sound barrier and three world records along with it. The video of this sky dive was live streaming on YouTube and soon became viral. The video now has over 36 million views and 130,000 likes.

This led to a spike in sales of their product and buzz about the company. Red Bull’s YouTube marketing campaigns are creating engagement throughout the rest of their social media and other companies are taking note. It seems as though this stunt has fueled Red Bull to continue with their culture of go big or go home and I am excited to see where this company will go. One of the final statements they make in their most recent video is “the only limit is the one you set yourself”.

Do you think YouTube is the next gold mine of Internet marketing? What have you done to go beyond your limits? Tell me your opinions in the comments below or email me at winterdanielle90@gmail.com

Columbia Sportswear vs. The North Face

As a self-proclaimed adventurer, I am constantly looking for clothing and gear to weather the elements. The two companies that seem to be on the cutting edge are Columbia Sportswear and The North Face. I have chosen to evaluate these two companies based on their online presence and social media impact. Let the games begin!

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Columbia Sportswear began in 1938, as a hat distributor out of Portland, Oregon and grew into a multi-million dollar outerwear giant, sadly their social media has only recently started its’ growth. The company’s Facebook was started by a few brand fans in Chile talking about products and their reviews of those products. (Talk about earned media!) The company began a three-year plan in 2010 to invest in Facebook, Twitter and YouTube platforms, with a goal to build relationships with consumers online.

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The North Face is a San Francisco-based company founded in 1968, as an equipment retail store for outdoor enthusiasts. Historically, they are known for sponsoring exploration endeavors and for their mantra “Never Stop Exploring”. In 2006, The North Face made the bold decision to move half of their marketing budget to their online division and they have been growing at exponential rates since.

Websites

Columbia’s website (http://www.columbia.com) is simple and clean, focusing on the clothing sold. The colors used are blue and white and the font is easy to read, reinforcing their logo. This layout gives a feeling of a tranquil snowy day and accessibility of the brand. The first thing you see when you open the page is a four-photo slideshow of seasonally relevant products, which forwards to their online store. This site has a clear purpose statement at the bottom, as well as a site map and email signup. Contrary to the simple aesthetics of the site, the drop down menus take multiple clicks to go further and there are no links to social media platforms. Using HubSpot’s Marketing Grader, Columbia’s website could improve their online marketing in a few ways. The grader gave 46% for “Top of the Funnel” items, suggesting adding a link to their blog and social sharing buttons to the website home page. Overall, Marketing Grader gave Columbia a score of 76 out of 100 for online performance.

One interesting fact about Columbia Sportswear is that they buy Google ad space for both “Columbia” and “Colombia” search terms because people often spell their company name incorrectly.

The North Face’s website (http://www.thenorthface.com) is the complete opposite of Columbia, but still aesthetically pleasing. The dark color scheme compliments the logo, while epic photos of extreme outdoor sports flash across the main page. This layout gives a feeling of adventure and motivation. The North Face’s website has links to anything and everything that you could need. They give links to their social media platforms, online store and investor information at both the top and bottom of their site. These links usually only take one click to get further into the site. The font is easy to read in most areas, except the gray on black at the bottom. Their site reinforces the idea that they focus on innovation and exploration of the outdoor sports market. According the Marketing Grader, The North Face received a 62% for “Top of the Funnel”, suggesting that they create remarkable content that is easier to share. Overall, The North Face received an extremely high score of 92 out of 100, showing that they are already taking advantage of many online opportunities and visitors are “very engaged”.

Social Media

For the purposes of this comparison I used Klout, which measures the impact and range of social media. This site draws off social media, analyzing content and interactions with the community.

Columbia was a latecomer to the social media world, so they haven’t quite mastered the art of social networking yet, but they do offer some interesting content. Columbia has 331,662 “likes” on Facebook, 42,865 followers on Twitter and 1,441 subscribers on YouTube. Most of their content is driven towards showing consumers products and innovations. This YouTube video showcases that Columbia likes to use humor and a friendly voice with their customers.

They have on average one hour between tweets, which are usually picture-based or communicating with their followers. Their custom hash tag “#tryingstuff” was implemented earlier last year, using it in all of their tweets.Additionally, Columbia does offer a blog, with an easily located RSS feed. The problem with their blog is there is no link on the website or Facebook. The Klout score for Columbia is 82,which indicates their ability to use social media effectively to communicate with their target audience. Overall, it seems like most of their social media is minimal and they lack cohesiveness between all platforms.

The North Face was recognized by Outdoor Magazine (using Fansometer) in 2011 for their outstanding social media effort, but are they maintaining the pace? The North Face has 107, 582 followers on Twitter, 3,150,152 “likes” on Facebook, and 12,313 subscribers on YouTube. The tone of their social media is encouraging, showing users the beauty of outdoor activities. This can be seen in this YouTube video, which comes from the expedition section of their YouTube channel.

They engage users on social media by releasing video and talking directly to followers. The North Face was talked about 22,000 times in conversations last week on Facebook and 11,000 people “checked-in” to stores. In addition, they offer a Pinterest page with 160 pins and an Instagram. The North Face offers three blogs, all which highlight different areas of exploration and extreme outdoor sports. Their Klout score was only an 83, due to their lengthy blog titles and complicated content. It seems that The North Face has a wider range, but does not utilize Twitter as effectively as Columbia. Overall, The North Face’s social media efforts seem to be more appealing to a wider range and are easily accessible.

Search Engine Optimization

According to the Marketing Grader, Columbia has “969,000 pages indexed by search engines” while The North Face boasts 3,000,000 pages. This means that when a person uses a search engine for content about the brand, they will find that number of pages with information. The mozRank for The North Face is 6.3(out of 10) and 6.6 for Columbia, which shows authority and popularity of links. Columbia Sportswear has 7.6 million results when searched using Google and The North Face has 563 million results. Using Google Trends, The North Face reaches internationally, while Columbia reaches mainly to North America.

Conclusion

Through my research, it seems as though The North Face’s head start seems to be working. Their presence online is cohesive and engaging, using many outlets and staying on top of new opportunities. Columbia Sportswear has potential for their Internet marketing to be profitable, but at this time it seems disconnected. It was a bloody fight, but the winner is…

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THE NORTH FACE

What do you think Columbia could do to improve? Do you think Columbia is utilizing traditional media instead? Let me know by commenting or email me at winterdanielle90@gmail.com

Information was verified on 2/26/2012*