Battle of the Animated Content: Rise of the GIFs

 


According to Twitter’s blog – “last year, people on Twitter shared over 100 million GIFs…”- no big deal right? Perhaps that’s why Twitter has also allowed brands and consumers to discover, consume, and share GIFs even more easily through GIF search on Twitter. And if that’s not enough you can search more on tumblr. And even dating apps like Bumble allow you to respond via GIF. It’s a whole new world…

Have the GIFs taken over? Are emojis in trouble? Game of the “Animated Content” to show us who will take the Throne?

So what does that mean for brands?

Brands should consider how GIFs can play into their content strategy, especially within social media and blogs. GIFs are shareable content and allow consumers to relate and get a feeling or emotion a lot faster than reading through a bunch of text. Especially when consumers are going to pass through your content in seconds, through their newsfeed, a GIF can catch their attention. It may have actual stopping power if it’s engaging and creative enough (fun, funny, and relatable). And stopping power is a hard thing to do, especially when social media is so cluttered, through both paid content and organic. Both curated and original. Both visual and not. GIFs are a way to grab attention, and then your brand has to remember to take it from there, because a GIF can only do so much.

And if your brand is unsure, there are other visual animations that you can consider. For example, emojis are still at play. Some brands use them in subjects line in email marketing in order to get a consumer’s attention in their inbox. We all know the inbox is a mind field of clutter, and getting a consumer to get past the subject line and preview, to actually open the email is no small feat. Others use emojis in their social media text to represent a certain emotion or feeling, that can be relatable to consumers.

Remember, your brand has to evaluate and consider whether it’s worth curating existing GIFs (or emojis, etc) or creating your own. The key here again is relevance to the consumer. GIFs alone don’t mean anything, but within context and surrounded by key messaging related to the brand, they can provide an opportunity to engage with the user on a different level. For example, consumers enjoy content that allows them to share it with their own friends and audience. If your content can get to that level, then you’ve reached true engagement with your consumer. Because nowadays it’s not about the eyeballs you get on your GIF (and content), it’s about the action the consumer takes when they see it. Will they like it (ok, cool), will they share it (better), will they comment positively (also, cool), and/or will they start following your brand to get more content (even better).

Still unsure? Just look at the new Apple iOS for the iPhone. It allows consumers to share GIFs built into their keyboard. In addition, consumers have had the ability to add and use different emoji keyboards, as well as create their own Bitmoji to communicate with. There are some consumers who only communicate through imagery now (hello, Snapchat). This is a white space for brands to enter. Imagine your brand (example Top Shop) having created your own imagery (emojis, gifs) for consumers to have access to and use as part of their communication. It becomes organic use of branded content or related content. Your consumers are now sharing a piece of your brand, a story through their eyes. A whole new form of UGC.

Always do your research and only enter this universe, if GIFs/Emojis are relevant to your brand. It has to be authentic to work well. For example is the brand voice/tone humorous, entertaining and/or human. We hope so (at least with the third). If so, your brand can find GIFs that are able to be shared within the brand tone, without going against the grain of the brand. For example, an athletic brand could find humor in training, and/or provide a quick tip on how to do something. A financial brand, could find irony in finances, that allow consumers to relate. While a fashion brand could find something fun and entertaining to share. Something that consumers are like, wow that’s cool – I must share this now.

In the end, GIFs are here people. Embrace them at your own risk (i.e. at your own fun). And when you’ve had enough, they’ll be something new and shiny around the corner, of course.

Why tumblr Still Reigns with Millennials and Fashion Brands Today

tumblr fashion brands

tumblr, the microblogging platform that a lot of brands use to market themselves, has evolved over the years. And luckily, it has not gone downhill despite its acquisition by Yahoo.

Over the last year or so tumblr has remained a budding platform for niche audiences, especially in the millennial sphere, lending itself to more visual media, especially gifs, short video, and beautiful photography.

Here  are three reasons why the platform has continued to stay prominent within its audience set:

  • The audience still runs the content – The audience on this platform (although younger), is excited to be there. They’re excited by the content, some of which they create themselves, and some of which they curate. They’re reblogging, sharing, and keeping it within this channel.  It’s a place where people get creative, show a unique side, and get extremely visual.
  • Content can live on – The content doesn’t disappear within seconds as it does on Twitter. Similar to Instagram, but more so, you can re-blog a post months later. A piece of content can live on for days, weeks, months, or even the following year. It’s a platform where content doesn’t go stale, if it’s still cool and relevant. It doesn’t matter if it was from a month ago or an hour ago, the audience can find new things that they wouldn’t necessarily find elsewhere – kind of like Reddit in that way.
  • Brands that stand out, understand the medium – And the brands who really make it in this space are those that take to the channel. Those that aren’t just recycling content from other social media spaces, but are truly making content for tumblr. Looking at brands like Converse – who uses animation to set their sneakers apart – tumblr is a place for them to show another side to their product. A creative window into the product, the brand, the story behind it, and the audience who is so obsessed with the brand already.

The key takeaway here is that tumblr may be quiet at times, but it’s still a hub of activity. It’s a place that creative and artistic things happen, and brands, especially retail and product brands, have a place to stand out.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

What your Social Media Marketing is Missing Today

social media marketing strategy

The usual suspects of a social media marketing approach involve a social editorial calendar where you schedule your tweets, posts, and what cultural events you may try to align with. Perhaps your brand will take it a step further and do some real time reacting and planning ahead for real time events.  These are all great things for your social arsenal.

But how can your brand stand out on social media in a sea of competition? How can you make a little more of a splash in that social puddle?

Be different.

Sounds simple, right? Not so, for most.

As designers, you’re very focused on the design. Naturally. And social media can feel a bit like extra work that you simply don’t have time for. But, as we all know, it’s important for the growth of your business. So designers tend to take pics of their new pieces, sometimes tweet about a holiday sale, or post about an upcoming event. That’s cool. But everybody is doing that. You need to do more.

Rather than doing the same old stuff, why not think about ways to really be different. Like, why just tweet on Twitter, when you can publish a whole story through tweets? Sound silly? Perhaps. But it is definitely creative and attention grabbing.

Here are a few examples of interesting approaches to social media:

R.L. Stine - An author known for scary stories wrote a story in 15 consecutive tweets for Halloween. He capitalized on the spooky holiday and used it to garner some engagement with a fun and creative way for his audience to get some exclusive content on Twitter. Smart.

AMC – Back in May, AMC took a leap and released the series pilot of Halt and Catch Fire exclusively on tumblr. Something tumblr had never done before, nor had a series. It was eye-catching because it allowed a whole new audience who may not have heard about the show dive in and get an engaging experience.

Taco Bell – In late October, Taco Bell did a pretty courageous social act. The brand blacked out its social channels (including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, tumblr and its site) all for its new mobile app launch. All attention was put on their audience to download the app and check it out right then. Bold? Yes. Cool? Definitely.

So now it’s your turn. Take a minute and step back to think how your brand can stand out and make a little splash too. 

This post was originally written for startup fashion. 

Five CTAs to Consider for your Brand’s Content Marketing

 

CTAs for branding and marketing content

When it comes to your website, email marketing, and social media, your content needs a call to action (cta). What is it that you want your reader to do? The CTA usually drives your audience to have an interaction with the content and engage (click, like, share) or potentially go somewhere else (such as your product page to purchase).

A great CTA can create responses from the audience and potentially convert them from a prospective customer to an actual customer (or a current one to a loyal one).

Here’s the thing though, not all CTA’s have to drive to a product or service.

Sometimes a CTA that leads to entertainment, valued content, or helpful tips is enough to make your audience excited for your product or service in the long run.

Here are 5 Alternative Calls to Action for Your  Branding and Marketing Content:

Email: Cross promotion between social and email is a great way to get awareness of your content. Perhaps include some of your Instagram favorites in your email newsletter and allow your readers to “share” their favorite with specific hashtag. Allow them to be a part of your community and potentially be highlighted in your email next time.

Website: Have them “subscribe now” to your newsletter for information on events or entertaining videos, not necessarily sales and promos.

YouTube: Instead of leading them back to the site to purchase a product from your videos, perhaps have a simple annotation to go to the next video. Let them enjoy more awesome content, because they’re obviously watching the video for a reason. They’re interested!

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion – to read the full list of CTAs including Facebook and tumblr, check out my full post here. 

 

Seven Paid Social Media Tips for Brand Awareness

First thing’s first, you need your goals (as with any marketing plan). Decide if your paid social media strategy will help for awareness of your brand being on that channel or perhaps help create engagement with a new campaign. Let’s assume for this post that you’re trying to gain awareness for your brand as you enter some new social channels. Different channels allow for different interactions with consumers as well as unique ways to target and reach them.

Some quick tips for each channel:

  • Facebook: A tough place to navigate without a budget these days. Ensure your facebook ads and sponsored posts have bold visual photos and videos. Within the feed a status update with just text will easily be skipped over. But a visual that can capture someone’s eye may allow a second glance, and hopefully a click for your CTA.
  • Twitter: Promoted Accounts and Tweets are the easy way in for awareness. Note, you only need promoted account tweet copy for the mobile ads, not desktop.
  • Instagram: Thankfully the budget has come down for brands, but the price tag isn’t cheap. If you want the extra boost go for it. But if you can manage to gain your audience through organic tactics such as cross promotion, hashtags, and influencers – stick to that.
  • Pinterest: Same as with Instagram. There are some great opportunities with Pinterest, but with the latest guided search opportunities, there are great ways to be found without needing paid promotion.
  • tumblr: The cool part about tumblr is that you rarely realize you’re looking at a sponsored post. The brands who have done it well, are sticking to the tumblr community ways of big images that captivate, and intriguing stories to keep you intrigued and hopefully follow the account for more. The cool paid opportunities include but are not limited to in stream sponsored posts for desktop and mobile. But one of the best places to really get your audience is through the spotlight ad. It allows full access to new members, as as tumblr continues to grow, so do the brand opportunities.
  • LinkedIn: I can’t say more about the targeting capabilities. You can reach your audience down to their job title. Need I say more?
  • YouTube: There are many ways to get your videos out there to your audience, but the preferred way is through Trueview in stream, in search and/or in display. The key with these ads  (especially in stream) is to have the most enticing part in the first 5 seconds. Otherwise your audience normally has the opportunity to skip after that time period.

Remember, the key for social media ads is not to just spend away all of your social media budget. But to test what posts are doing well and how you can gain more traction on those channels. For example, if you have a tweet that is doing well organically, boost it. Make it a promoted tweet to gain even more. Once you and your team learns which posts do better on particular channels, you can plan to boost certain ones ahead of time. For instance, if you are planning a Halloween promotion, you may want to ensure you have your spend ready for that week and have some posts to a/b test for the best copy, image/video, and link. And it doesn’t hurt to see what your competition is doing too.

Bonus tip – don’t skimp on the visuals. They work on every channel. Make sure they’re quality photos or videos and not just simple stock photography.

Image Sources: Instagram – lexus, michael kors

This post was originally written for Socialnomics.

How to: Stay on Top of your Social Media Game

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 9.18.17 PM

Our lives are busy. We get up, work out (if there’s time), run off to our office (wherever that may be), check our insane amount of email while we slug some caffeine, and hope to make it through the day without having to take most of our work “home” that evening as well. So when do we stay on top of what’s happening in the world, what the latest trend is, and what social media app is hot now? We have to make time. The key is to find efficient and enjoyable ways to do so.

Here are a few of those that may suit your digital fancy…

1. Twitter - This one is a no-brainer. Some may feel like Twitter moves too fast, or it’s hard to keep up with the latest news. However, if you make a Twitter list for different categories you’re interested in, then you can focus on the content you want, and when you want to consume it. For example, you could have a news list to read on your commute in the AM (or while you’re at the gym); an entertainment list when you’re kicking back after dinner or taking a breather while grabbing a coffee; a publication list for your favorite magazines and bloggers who you like to follow. Either way, Twitter makes it easy, and the closest you’ll get to some of the “real time” news you need to know. Whether it’s Vine’s new app additions, the latest iPhone update, or a sports score, Twitter will have it all.

2. Pulse - A simple, easy, and user-friendly way to aggregate your news and publication content in one place. And since it’s been “linked up” with LinkedIn, you can share easily, as well as sign in through your LinkedIn account.

3. CNN Breaking News - One of the few apps I make sure the notifications are always on. It’s the app that lets you know when crazy shit goes down, right then and there. Seriously.

4. Flipboard – Similar to Pulse in some ways, with the aggregation. The difference is mainly for brands. The ability to have mobile experiences for your content is more expansive on flipboard. There are also more ad opportunities for your branded content. From a consumer perspective, it’s more about your preference on what you prefer for your user experience. Swipe or Flip?

5. tumblr - You can make tumblr another news feed type source if you subscribe to the blogs of the brands and publishers you love to consume. For example, I follow brands who put out cool insider content that you can’t always get on any other site or channel. It’s not always the of the minute news, or mainstream announcements, which is why it’s awesome. For example, you can get first time releases, TV Show premieres, and behind the scenes type content.

So in the end it’s all about your preference. No time? Corral it one place. Prefer different apps, that’s ok too. For example, Mashable has a great app where you can swipe through their daily content with ease. And if you and your friends have a favorite app or tool, please share!

Image Source: Techcrunch

This post was originally written for Marketing on the Rocks.

Is tumblr the right blogging platform for your brand?

 

tumblr blogging platform

Do you have blog for your brand? I know, you’ve got a lot to do. But blogging is really important for reasons ranging from SEO to customers relationships. When it comes to choosing a a platform for your blog, you may want to go with WordPress, which definitely has it’s advantages. Or you may be considering tumblr.

A lot of brands ask about the benefits and “is tumblr a good blogging platform for a MY brand?”  Here’s one way to look at it.

  • Do you want a blog that people are excited to engage with?
  • Do you want a community that is hungry for your visual content?
  • Do you want a blog that people “re-blog” today, tomorrow, and even 6 months from now?
  • Do you want a blog that allows fun features like polls?
  • Do you want a blog that you can post to on the go?

If you said yes to even a couple of the above questions, then tumblr may be the blogging platform for your brand.

tumblr is not just a blog, but an online community of people who are creating, curating, consuming, and sharing content every minute of every day. Consumers are there for one reason – to find and consume content they are interested in. So why not be where your consumers already are?

tumblr is extremely effective for visual friendly brands such as those in the fashion industry. Brands like NordstromClub Monaco and others have taken full advantage – including letting it be another path to purchase for their brand lovers. Furthermore, influencers in the fashion industry realize it’s another place that an audience will love to check out brand collaborations.

To read more on the benefits of tumblr and why the advantages could be right for your brand, check out my full post on Startup Fashion!

Image via Omarukai

Social Media: Understanding how your Consumers Use it

customers social media

Remember the days of using RSS Feeds? Seems like a long time ago; the shift into using social media as a primary source of information is something that has become very popular with a lot of people.  That’s why it’s important to have an understanding of how your customers use social media so that you can create your social media plan accordingly.

Here’s a quick look at how I use social media:

  • Twitter is my daily news feed from what’s happening locally to what’s happening globally. It’s my go-to for quick snippets, and long form content when I link out. Without Twitter I wouldn’t know half of what’s going on in my industry and the world sometimes.
  • Facebook is my brand go-to for the ones I’m passionate about. I won’t just “like” any brand and have them clutter my daily home page on Facebook – so if I like your page, that’s huge.
  • Pinterest is my guilty pleasure. It’s where I go to lust over things I want and pin away from friends or influencers who’ve done the same.
  • Instagram is my daily binge session with image content. I love following brands, influencers, and friends who share daily or moderately regular image content. It allows me to get a closer view into what makes that brand tick, what makes that influencer share such cool things, and what my friends really love.
  • tumblr is my go-to for quick consumable content from brands and bloggers I love. It’s where I read up on other fashion folks and why they do what they do, as well as lesser known folks who are just publishing their passions.
  • LinkedIn is where I read my thought leadership from people and brands I admire. It’s few and far between that I follow brands on LinkedIn, and even more selective on groups I join. The content and value has to be worth it.

See how each platform has a very different purpose for me?  I’m willing to bet that your customers are the same way.

Why this matters to your brand:

Understanding how your audience consumes content is half the battle. It allows your brand to shape your content strategically for each channel; in a voice that fits that place; in a way that is easily consumable, and in turn shareable by that specific audience.

The content you place on LinkedIn is not what you place on Pinterest.  Understand that while the topic may be the same (new collection, new event, new sale) the way in which the content is presented should be very different, based on how you see your customers responding.

To read more on how you can apply each of these channels to your brand and have a list of key takeaways, check out my full post on Startup Fashion

Nordstrom: A social media case example for any consumer brand

Nordstrom's social media approach

The well known retailer Nordstrom is proving itself to be an expert at engaging with its audience across multiple social channels, as well as connecting both online and offline for continued engagement.

On thing that Nordstrom ensures is that its visual content is available on whichever channel its audience prefers — providing insight into the latest styles available in the store, upcoming sales, and much more.

Let’s take a look at Nordstrom’s Social Media Approach

Twitter and Facebook

Nordstrom uses Facebook and Twitter to provide updates on daily specials and tips through their committed community managers. The community managers are helpful, quick to respond, and always give nice, sweet comments when consumers share their latest Nordstrom finds.

Going the extra mile: When customers have a question for the store, they often use Twitter to ask it.  Nordstrom, unlike a lot of major retailers out there, do actually respond within minutes including direct messages for direct answers needed.

Email Marketing

Frequent (but not too frequent) emails allow consumers to be alerted to the new trends available in store and online, as well as sales occurring at that moment so their customers don’t miss out on a great deal.

Pinterest and Instagram

Nordstrom’s Pinterest and Instagram accounts are always up to date with their latest trends.  They include highlights of bloggers and their best customers wearing styles from the store. When customers tag their latest purchases with Nordstrom handles or hashtags, they are automatically considered for a highlight.

tumblr

Nordstrom’s blog is especially unique because it isn’t just about the products but also gives consumers an inside look at Nordstrom’s take on fashion. This includes street style pictures from the week, which is great for a quick daily inspiration and feels almost like a service that the retailer is offering its customers.

Takeaways and Lessons to Apply to Your Brand

  • Use visual content that highlights your products in a way that the consumer can see the value, be excited to share it, and potentially purchase it.
  • Provide a path to purchase on appropriate channels.
  • The same content doesn’t live on every channel; allow diversity.
  • Allow the audience to be a part of the content; User Generated Content can allow your fans to feel special.
This post was originally written for Startup fashion – for the full list of takeaways and lessons for your brand check out my full post here
 

How to: Use Hashtags Across Social Media Channels

Hashtags.

Hashtags, which began on our phones, ok but really on Twitter for aggregating conversations in one stream related to topics, events, brands, and more. They’ve since become utilized across other channels like Instagram, tumblr, Facebook and more.

Of course they aren’t used the same across all channel and there are distinct differences for each channel and best practices for each. Below is a quick hit list on how to approach hashtags on some of the most popular social channels:

Twitter:

  1. Try not to use more than 2 to 3 hashtags (preferably 1 or 2) in a tweet
  2. Keep characters to less than 120 when placing a hashtag at the end of a tweet so when someone ReTweets, it’s not cut off
  3. Listen to the conversation on a hashtag before jumping in to ensure it’s appropriate for the brand and the tweet
  4. Monitor your branded hashtag conversations daily
  5. Having too many brand hashtags can cause confusion on when to use which – keep it simple

Instagram:

  1. Listen to see which hashtags are being used for your topics so you can hop into relevant conversations with your photos
  2. Try not to have a billion hashtags on each photo – people get lost in the clutter
  3. Do use some of the same hashtags often to create consistent viewership and loyal followers on certain categories

Tumblr:

  1. Hashtags are like metatags on tumblr so you can use more than you would on other channels to hop into more search streams – allowing more people to discover your content
  2. Monitor to see which tags are searched for on tumblr and tag your content appropriately
  3. Don’t mis-tag your content

Facebook:

  1. Less hashtags do better
  2. Try cultural terms rather than branded terms to reach audiences
  3. Monitor and have fun with it

Questions? Comments?

Note: this post was originally written for Social Media Club and my post can be found here.

Image by Maria Elena.

Futher Reading:

Ten Things for your Brand to Consider when Starting a tumblr Blog

Why Aren't You Blogging?

When you decide to jump into the sea of blogging, planning is important.

Many brands choose tumblr and there are many great reasons to do so – including the built in community, which already lives on tumblr (not found anywhere else), the ability to discover content easily, and the paid options only available within tumblr.

When choosing tumblr to be your platform of choice there are a few things to check off as you set it up.

The tumblr checklist

  1. Choose a domain: Find one for your brand name of the theme for your tumblr. If you see your brand name is available and no one is actively blogging on it, I would grab that too.
  2. Choose a theme: Depending upon your marketing goals, it’s usually helpful to choose a specific theme to focus your blog around so your consumers understand the focus and know what to come back for.
  3. Set up multiple tumblrs: However, if your brand has a few different themes to pursue, perhaps it’s easier to set up a few different tumblr blogs on different themes. Companies like IBM have done that and it has worked well for them and their origination and curation of content.

  4. Customize your tumblr: There are a multitude of themes on tumblr to choose from for easy set up (free and paid versions). Then you’ll need your dedicated development team to make it your own. The great part about tumblr is you can make the look and feel anything your brand wants.

  5. Include disqus: Disqus (or another commenting tool) will have to be added to your tumblr to allow comments and moderation of those comments.

  6. Listen: Listen through the search bar to discover the conversation already occurring around the topic(s) you are exploring to tumble about. Additionally see who is writing about it or curating content to find the influencers in your category. With time your brand can organically build relationships with them, so with time they will hopefully reblog your content and share with their audiences (more eyeballs for your awesome content!)

  7. Schedule posts: When launching a blog it’s good to be armed with 10 – 20 posts ready to go. Schedule when your team would like to launch them in the first few weeks (perhaps 3 to 4 in the first week).

  8. Be a part of the community: As you launch your posts, don’t just push them out and wait for others to come. Find other content it – like it, comment on it, and consider re-blogging some for curating content.

  9. Activate paid (including analytics): When your brand has the initial budget to do so, consider using some paid media within tumblr to increase eyeballs on your new tumblr. There are a few different options depending upon your needs – for example mobile vs. web in stream ads.

  10. Test and learn posting times, days, tags: Experiment with the best days and times to post your content (as there are no specific best practices and depends upon your content, your brand, and your audience). See which tags work best for getting people to discover your content, consume, and share it.

Do you need inspiration?

Here are 6 tumblr blogs to visit:

Note: This post was originally written for Social Media Club and my full post can also be found here.

The Habits of Teens on Social Media

When it comes to social media there are tons of flavors ranging from the “generic” Facebook to the eclectic Vine and Snapchat. Teenagers are notorious for being experimental and checking out new things, and not just following the norm. When it comes to social media, it’s not much different.

1. My Mom’s on Facebook: Nowadays with the influx of individuals in their 30s, 40s, 50s and older joining and becoming more active on Facebook, teenagers are becoming less active or less willing to share as much on the platform. They feel it’s “less cool” and also don’t want their parents to see everything they share. Although there are privacy settings, it’s not the same when it’s not a place they can share so freely as they did before their parents joined.

2. Photos, Photos, and more Photos: We all know that photos are some of the most shared pieces of content across social media and when it comes to teenagers it’s not much different. Teens love to take and share photos, especially on apps like Instagram where you can play around with the filters and make them look unique and fun. Additionally, teens feel they can have just as good of a conversation on Instagram as they had on Facebook through the comments under pictures.

3. Privacy? - Teens although caring about not having their parents see their content, are sometimes more carefree with what they share. Some pictures show more than they should; they share contact information; and connect with as many friends and celebrities as possible – because they can.

4. tumblr - A quick and easy location for teens to blog about their daily lives, passions, and follow brands they love. It’s a way for them to expand on their careers during high school and college and get noticed sooner. Your resume only says so much, your blog can say so much more nowadays.

5. Try it and Move on - As the shiny object syndrome proves, there are so many social media channels that teens try new ones, get bored, and find a new one the following week. Some last longer, but they need real traction to do so including being easy to use, share, and have their friends join too.

What does this all mean you ask? If brands want to reach this target audience, they need to keep an eye on what’s hot for teens, and where they are interacting the most. It may be not facebook, but instagram, tumblr, twitter, and other easy to use and share platforms (especially visual) seem to be great venues to find and engage these teens.

Note: Some of this information was obtained through speaking with high school graduates and college freshmen and what they prefer on a daily basis and why.

Note: This post was originally written for socialnomics, and my post can also be found here.

Further Reading:

http://socialmediatoday.com/leaderswest/1494041/infographic-teenage-social-media-behavior-2013

http://www.edsocialmedia.com/2013/05/teens-social-media-5-highlights-of-pew-study/

Building Community through Storytelling Apps Like Cowbird, YouTube and Tumblr

Many brands today are still figuring out how to tell their story, show the human side of the brand, and connect with their audience on a deeper level than just their products and services. If that isn’t hard enough, there are a myriad of avenues by which to do so…should your brand use Facebook, a blog, YouTube,  Pinterest, none, or all of the above? It’s important for each brand to see where their audience is first, and use the tools that most resonate with their audience and engages them where they prefer to be engaged. However, it doesn’t hurt to try new tools and see if they “fit” the brand’s identity as well as the audience. Test and Learn – great motto.

3 Tools to consider and see if they “fit” and why:

(1) Cowbird - Use photos, text, and/or sound to tell the story of a moment in time, a brand, a product, a service, a person who works there, a consumer, or what have you. Video isn’t available (as of yet), and it’s only a web service (although apparently mobile friendly), but it appears to have a growing community as photos are so easily uploaded and shared. People love to tell “their story” and brands can collaborate with cowbird to tell a “saga” or something more. However there is currently no advertising as they are trying to keep it pure to contributors. Benefit for brands? A community of people who are engrossed in stories and visual content – and ones who will share, and engage with it via “likes” or “re-telling” a story (basically like a re-blog on twitter, which is a high value action on this platform). Also the potential opportunity to partner with Cowbird for feature content.

(2) YouTube: The Archive and the storytelling vehicle that has lasted the test of time. Video like photos are a great tool to tell a brand’s story. It can be used to tell a six second snippet (the “vine” rage) or it can be longer and tell a consumer’s journey, a sneak peek on a product line, the inside scoop on an event, or how and why an employee loves every moment of working for a particular brand. Whatever the video may be – it is a piece of the brand – and it’s story. Not sure how to break into video content? Not sure if you can afford it? Start small; start simple but start with a content strategy on how that video will amplify your current brand’s story and/or revive it from the dead. Did I mention it’s only one of the largest search engine’s on the web? Cough Cough – SEO (huge perk).

Great Example: The Lego Story [Watch The Video]

(3) tumblr - a blogging platform and so much more for brands and consumer alike. From fashion brands like Nordstrom to finance brands like American Express, tumblr has become a place to not just tell a story but allow the consumer to see a different side of the brand; and of course explore and engage with fun, digestible content – from posts to photos to videos and more.

ProTip: when using a platform like tumblr (or your blogging place of choice) always consider the amount of time and amount of content your brand has for both quality and frequency. Your audience will expect fresh, new, engaging content on a consistent basis.

note: this post was originally written for Social Media Club and my original post can be found here.

Three Tips for your Blog Content Strategy

Blogging Content

Image via janefriedman.com

Publishing is no longer just in the hands of magazines and newspapers; brands have the opportunity (as many have realized) to provide the value of content to consumers through video, blogs, infographics, and much more.

Today the brand is the publisher. When brands start creating and curating content it is normally through a blog or landing page that consumers are directed through to other channels.

Does your brand have a blog? Is it ready to make the investment in writers and quality content to keep loyal fans and accrue new ones?

3 things to consider for your blog content strategy…

Content Buckets
Your blog strategy is dependent on your marketing/business goals so it is important to ensure your content strategy for your blog is in line with those goals. Then, whether you have a 3 person team or a 500 person team you need to do a few things to put out valuable content:

  • Evaluate what your competition is putting out for content and what content buckets they are focused on (is it lifestyle content, industry content, sales content, and what mix?)
  • Evaluate what your audience is clicking on; spending most of their time consuming, and what keywords drive them to your website.
  • Where are the gaps…fill them in.
  • Determine the 2 to 4 buckets your brand can focus on and  test and learn and optimize the content accordingly.
  • Note: your strategy will change with time and so will your content buckets. Be ready and willing to adapt.

To read my other 2 imperative tips for a blog content strategy, please check out my full post on Startup Fashion! Thanks!

 

Five Reasons to Have a Blog for your Brand

Tory Burch blog

The importance of starting a blog as an independent fashion designer is based around a solid way to tell your story, drive traffic to your website, and allow your brand to grow a loyal fan base while allowing for a deeper look into the brand.

Lets take a closer look on why your brand should have a blog…

Create Awareness

Creating regular and consistent content and publishing out to your social channels can create awareness for your brand. The key is to have content that is valuable to your audience whether it be “how-to”, tips, expert advice, highlighting your products through lifestyle content, or a blend of content types.

That awareness will then lead to sharing of content on your fans’ channels for greater awareness, and in turn can drive traffic to your site for your products.

Drive Traffic

Your content, which will be engaging through multi-media such as photos and videos of your lines, can drive traffic through SEO (taking advantage of keywords and tags) as well as from referrals, influencers, and your loyal audience. Your blog can easily become the vehicle that leads traffic right to your products – whether it be your current or future fashion line.

To read the other 3 reasons why your brand should consider a blog, please read my full post on Startup Fashion. Thanks!

4 Features to Consider When Choosing Between Tumblr and WordPress

 

Tumblr vs WordPress

Image: SmartFatBogger.in

Starting a fashion blog is not always as simple as one, two, three – but platforms like Tumblr and WordPress do help in making it a little easier.

Luckily they are both fairly easy to use and provide many options for templates as well as customization. The tough part is choosing which platform fits your needs and wants for the perfect place to host your vivid content.

Cost 

In short, Tumblr is free and WordPress is not.

However, if you care less about having your own domain used then you could use the free wordpress.com site instead of wordpress.org. This is definitely not advised as there are less options for customization and limited features.

With WordPress.org the cost is not for the site, but for the hosting, design and development of customizing it.

Note: Tumblr cannot be hosted elsewhere. The blog would be hosted on Tumblr itself.

Customization

WordPress is scalable and can be customized with widgets and custom CSS to a full blown out website if desired.

WordPress easily supports widgets and plugins which can be added simply without worrying about hard coding, while Tumblr must be custom coded for similar functionality and plugins.

SEO Optimization

To read the rest of the differences (and you definitely want to know about SEO) between WordPress and Tumblr (including my bonus tip), check out my original post for Startup Fashion here

Are you a designer with a blog that supports your brand?  Which platform do you use?  Do you like it?

Ten Tumblr Tips to Optimize your Fashion Blog

Tumblra microblogging site and social networking platform has over 60 million blogs running on it currently — including individual blogs to blogs by brands. Brands have come to utilize this platform as a simple-easy-to-use tool for their content needs. Blogs range from informative, technical, financial, news-worthy, lifestyles, and more. The blogs that do the best are those with unique and fresh visuals such as instagram pictures and the like. No wonder it’s a perfect place for a fashion blog.

The following are ten quick Tumblr tips to get started on one of the top platforms for distributing and sharing content..

  • The Right Domain: start with a domain that either represents your brand or the niche area of which your fashion brand will focus upon. My tip: either keep it to one specific niche or a couple unique ones that are related yet will emotionally connect to a few different target markets.
  • Pick a theme: Choose a Tumblr theme that is not the same as everyone else’s. My Tip: Pay for one or customize it in-house. Tumblr’s API is very user-friendly.

Kate Spade Tumblr Page

  • Follow: Tumblr is a community with a built in audience – make sure you play nice and follow people and follow back – regularly.

To read the other 7 tips I offer, check out my original post on the Startup Fashion blog here! And let me know what else you would want to learn about Tumblr in order to optimize your content and blog in the comments below.

5 ways to use social media apps to capture your summer vacation

Summer brings many enjoyable times each season including beach trips, family time, bbq’s, and much more. The tough part is remembering to capture all these great times so you can recall and reminisce later on. Luckily there are many creative ways to do so effectively, quickly, and easily with the touch of a smartphone app.

Make it Fun

1. Instagram 
Capturing photos and making it easy for your loved ones to access, comment, and share has been made simpler through social networks like Facebook. However, there are other networks and applications, which allow one to be more creative with images such as Instagram. Instagram offers cool filters to allow pictures to be more vivid and unique. Best part it integrates smoothly with Facebook and Twitter for easy sharing to your normal channels.

2. Tumblr
Want another place to share your adventures throughout the summer? Consider a simple to use Tumblr Blog. It’s easy to set up, maintain, and integrate with your other channels. My favorite part is that you can take a quick picture from Instagram, share it to your Tumblr blog, and then share directly to Facebook or Twitter. What could be easier for sharing all those images from your road trip to the beach?

Share it with your inner circle

3. Path
Sometimes Facebook and Twitter means sharing with too many people, even those we may have “friended” or allowed to ‘follow” us can seem a bit much at times. Why not keep it simpler and more private with Path? Path allows a maximum of 150 friends, cool photo filters, location sharing, and more. And when you want to share to your larger circles, you can with integrating with your Facebook and Twitter too.

4. GroupMe
Taking a trip with your friends or want to share instantaneously your thoughts on what’s going on? Images from your hike, the great sunset, or the food and drinks you’re indulging on? Share with your inner circle via groupme and have a conversation right then and there. Not sure what dress to wear to the summer wedding? Ask your friends all at once via this easy messaging app.

Stay Organized

5. Evernote
Being organized isnt’ just for the office. Evernote allows easy integration with saving notes, images, and more so you can stay organized with packing lists, things to do on your trip, itineraries, hotel and direction information, and more. Why worry about that address you need when you can access from Evernote from your laptop, tablet, and/or smartphone. Could it get simpler? I think not.

Although these five apps are well known and many people use them already, they are sometimes overlooked when it comes to trips, great times, and sharing adventures with friends and family. Next time you set off on your next summer trip, don’t forget to capture it so you can look back on it later. All from your smartphone…

Ready, Set, Click.

Note: This post was originally written for Social Media Club, and my original post can also be found here. 


Image Credits:
http://www.cc-chapman.com/2012/why-i-love-path/
http://evernote.com/evernote/
http://demopit.com/2011/01/21/groupme-lets-you-effortlessly-group-text-with-friends/
http://ralphvelasco.tumblr.com/post/24299130196/ill-be-in-this-city-tomorrow-can-you-guess-where
http://pamsahota.tumblr.com/page/2

5 Simple Tips for Using Tumblr

Recently I started utilizing my tumblr blog for unique, fun, and classic fashion I love, why I love it, and why it’s more unique through a digital scope. I love the simplicity of the platform and how it’s so convenient to post, even via the iPhone from my beloved instagram app. Lets just say, it’s my new love affair along with Instagram, of course.

1. Find your niche

As with any blog one starts, a focus point is key in order to not have a hodge podge of random topics and items. If you have a specific focus, then people will come to expect your post to be a source for information on that topic and hopefully one day come to trust it as an expert source or one just for fun to peruse. For example, Bergdorf Goodman started a tumblr for a few focus points, which include location, inspiration, visual and the team. It’s a great source to get to know the brand on a more personal level and dive deeper into what Bergdorf has to offer, aside from a retail establishment. It’s a source of iconic fashion, fun design ideas, and more. I especially love the “on location” segment which allows for an inside look into the brand, the models, and what it takes to get things “just right.”

2. Share or not to share

One of the best features (in my opinion) is the fact that you can so easily share your Tumblr blog on your social channels. It’s so smoothly integrated with platforms like Facebook and Twitter. For example, if you are on the go but want to share a quick post, do it from your phone, post, and poof: it’s immediately posted on your Twitter stream and Facebook Timeline. How much simpler could it get? And if you’re into (1) efficiency as well as (2) sharing your cool posts … tumblr makes it that much simpler for you.

3. Comments and Questions

Opt in and allow your blog posts to have comments and questions. Engagement is key when it comes to blog posts being visible and seen past your own computer screen. However, not only should you allow comments/questions, but you should respond in return as well as comment on other people’s blogs. It shows it’s not just about you and your own blog but also about the community of the platform and the people who appreciate the subject matter and people who contribute to it.

4. SEO it up

As with any blogger, you want your blogs to found, read, and shared by your audience. SEO plays a huge part in that, so optimize it to the best of your ability.

  • Keywords: Having rich keywords through your content, title, metadata, and URL are essential in order for those searching for that topic to come across your post. Not sure which keywords are the right ones? Check out Google Adwords keyword tool for some good starting points.
  • Meta Data: Google weights heavily on title tags so make sure your keywords are making it in there.
  • URLs: Your topic and keywords should also be in your URL in order for people to know easier that your post is about what they want to read up on, check out, and share.

5. Have fun – use instagram

I am a huge fan of integrating instagram along with my Tumblr. It makes for cool photography, great visuals, and a quick on the go post, such as me in my old office wearing my fave corduroy Toms shoes…

Check out mine – and tell me what you think. I am always looking for new insights, tips, and tricks. Share what you love about Tumblr in my comments below.

Keep your 2012 New Year Resolutions with these Five Helpful Mobile Apps

Have a list of New Year’s Resolutions? Need some help staying organized? Well there’s an App for that, of course. It may be easy thinking of resolutions to start in the upcoming new year, especially after the indulgent holidays…but not always as easy staying committed. Check out these Apps to tackle your resolutions a little more smoothly…

1. New Year’s Resolution List and To Do’s: An app called Resolutions 2012 allows one to record each resolution, identify what needs to be done in order to complete those resolutions (change of behavior, etc), and in turn track success by recording actions taken in the course of the new year. Cool features include being able to set custom motivations and rewards (recall Billy Madison preparing for an exam with his teacher) in order to stay motivated for noted resolutions. Customization is key and this app allows you to use your own photos, and more. For only .99 it may be worth the “splurge.”

2. Stay Organized with Notes: Ever take notes on one device, say your computer at work, but get home and realize you don’t have them on your laptop? It happens to the best of us, but with the help of Evernote, you can worry less and always have all your notes on any of your devices whether it be your multiple computers, tablet or smartphone! Best features include that you can even import emails, pictures from the web, and more. Save it to one device and it automatically saves to your other devices via the cloud. How much easier can it get? Being organized never seemed so sexy, than with Evernote.

3. Blog Easily and Frequently: So you have been slacking on your blogging but wish you could do it more easily and under those pesky time constraints. My new favorite way to blog, simply, yet effectively is through Tumblr. It allows you to share valuable content and even while you’re on-the-go. Imagine this…you have a great idea, but don’t want to wait until you get home to write about it. Write a quick post via your smartphone, have Tumblr post via the mobile app, and have it automatically share to your Facebook Friends/Fans and Twitter followers. Why wait, when it’s that easy?

4. Document more memories: Speaking of easy and awesome, Instagram allows photo enthusiasts to be unique through their mobile phones. So you’re walking through the city and take that perfect picture, add a cool twinge to the background (ex. toasted), then share to your Tumblr blog (See above), which then shares to your Facebook and Twitter. Geeky? Yes. Awesome? Definitely.

5. Run those calories off: So now you’re organized, on top of your resolution list, got some blogging and memories soaring through the cloud…but what about those pesky few pounds you gained over the holidays? With Runkeeper you can run, walk, bike or whatever suits your fancy. With this nifty GPS app, you can track your distance, calories, burned, and more. And did I mention you can connect it with your social apps so it keeps you accountable?

Next step? Download away. And get started! Although there are plenty more apps out there for your resolutions, these may get the inner geek in you started on some pretty nifty, helpful, and inspiring ones. Please feel to share other apps you love in the comments below!

Note: this post was originally written for Socialnomics.