Archive for the ‘ Social Media ’ Category

Branding: Leave your mark the right way.

brand (n.) — a kind or variety of something distinguished by some distinctive characteristic

 

Behold the power of brand distinction. Can you name these brands based on a single letter?

Social media is becoming an integral part of life for individuals and institutions. It is usually seen as an organized river of information that allows Web users to communicate with each other. It also facilitates companies’ missions to engage with their stakeholders. Social media platforms can be seen as the fronts on which Internet users gather, cooperate, share ideas, provide feedback and advice, and simply converse with one another. Whether it be communicating with friends and family, businesses, or other communities, social media opens so many doors for literally anyone and everyone around the world.

Pam Moore is a renowned brand strategist/self-proclaimed “marketing nut” who gives amazing tips on how to make your brand stand out from the crowd. Millions of people are online. How will you differentiate yourself from everyone else? How are you going to improve your online presence?

 

Why bother trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?

On Pam’s blog, she recently wrote an article entitled “Social Media: 22 Tips to Differentiate Your Brand Presence.” She states that companies and people are getting so caught up in all of these new and innovative social networking sites that they are forgetting the basic marketing principles:

We talk about plans, objectives, content and blogs.  We talk little about unique value, market segmentation, product differentiation, and standing out from the crowd.  These words are exchanged for crowd sourcing, sharing and giving. Given this you can see why many newbies get confused.

She provides very useful tips that I believe all people and businesses should take into account to create a stronger, more powerful, more distinct brand for themselves. She covers a great number of topics that one should (but may not) consider from the get-go, such as the effect of color choice, logo design, the time it takes for a brand to become distinguished. She also stresses the fact that you are your own brand, and it is crucial to effectively market yourself. Individuals have their own image, personality, preferences, aspirations, missions, and attributes, just like companies do. The most important pieces of advice she provided are geared towards the folks to just need that extra push to get back into the swing of things or are lost in cyberspace. Sure, the Internet was created to make our lives easier, but there are so many instances in which we get too absorbed in its sea of opportunities and possibilities.

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How well are we seen behind a screen?

My generation is involved.

My generation is active.

We’re guilty for being so operative…

…And enjoying every part of it.

Has our obsession with shiny new toys and tools and gadgets and platforms dawned upon us as beneficial?  In my humble opinion, electronic media has certainly altered the way the world can see the rest of the world.  Personally, I always find myself staring at some sort of screen, whether it is my iPod, laptop computer, TV (which is rare, unless Glee is on), or BlackBerry… Most of us can admit to being addicted to these exciting technologies that are readily available to literally everyone.

Just how obsessed are we? By the numbers.

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night, Smartphone by your pillow side, and checked your tweets or Facebook notifications? Guilty? Weirded out? You’re not alone… Nearly half of us do the same thing.

Do you peek at your news feed or Twitter stream during meetings, class, sex, meals, or potty time? What’s that…? Yes? A whopping 62% of us do. Whatcha lookin’ at?!

Does this surprise anyone?

How accurately do others “see” us when we are online?  Do we talk online the same way we talk to people in person? Are our lives being more positively or negatively affected by this entire media?  It certainly isn’t an effective way to prevent carpel tunnel, loss of hearing, strained eyes, or obesity.  My information technology instructor last semester always joked to our class about how social media is simply “reverse stalking.” Nowadays, instead of people having to find out where we are themselves, we tell them.  Tools and tactics such as geo-tagging, tweeting, location-based outlets, and other platforms let other users no where we are and what we are doing. Word to the wise: Most people don’t care what color socks you’re wearing. Make your tweets memorable and allow people to engage in conversation based on what you tell everybody.

On a completely different note, I recently learned about William Wordsworth in my British literature class. “The World is Too Much with Us” was my favorite poems by him.  Being the Romantic he was, he emphasized imagination, the beauty of nature, and how people (even way back in the day) did not spend enough time enjoying the Creator’s gifts to Earth:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers

Little we see in Nature that is ours

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon

The winds that will be howling at all hours,

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers

For this, for everything, we are out of tune

It moves us not.–Great God! I’d rather be

A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

In “The world is too much with us,” Wordsworth seems disappointed with Earth’s populace for not being connected to nature.  Not only are people disrespectful of Earth’s beauty, but also unappreciative and oblivious.  The sea, moon, and winds are personified, which can symbolize the expected unity and relationship between humans and Earth.  Wordsworth is trying to make it a point that we all share this planet and should treat it like one of us humans, i.e. care for it, be loyal to it, respect it, etc.

I did some research on the meaning of the sonnet… Wordsworth is criticizing the materialism of the early 1800s.  People are “getting and spending” – Whatever they earn, they spend it on themselves and have little concern for the wellbeing of others or nature itself.  The line “We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” makes me think that Wordsworth was trying to inform people that they have surrendered to the money-oriented and acquisitive social norms of the time.  It humored me that nowadays, humanity is still extremely materialistic, even more so than the period in which this poem was written.  Technologies have come about that have made us a lot more dependent on machines and electronics, and the Industrial Age is what really sparked the change in society’s reliance on these.  In today’s Information Age, people are constantly behind some sort of screen, whether it is a television, cell phone, computer, or any other electronic device.  Wordsworth would not enjoy being surrounded by what he would consider a modern monstrosity.

Wordsworth’s disgust, sorrow and frustration are shown by his obvious lamentation over society’s need for luxury and selfish fulfillment.  He is trying to make a point that people are letting the earth-shifting movement take away from the marvel of nature, possibly to the point at which people fail to notice its beauty.

Do I love social media? Absolutely. Am I willing to admit that I am becoming absorbed in the evolving media world among us? Indeed, I am. We still need to pay attention to our natural habitat and take advantage of what beauty surrounds us.

Now I feel like taking a walk out in this winter wonderland. Too bad Glee is on in one hour…

A grande idea that’s anything but vanilla, unless that’s what you want

Starbucks is a master at creating buzz… in more ways than one.

MyStarbucksIdea.com has thousands talking and the people at Starbucks taking action.

I am typically very impressed when companies have revelations to become more customer-centric, especially when their ideas work.  Being one of the most popular brands of coffee in the world, Starbucks stands out from the crowd when it comes to listening to and responding to its customers.  In early 2008, Starbucks launched MyStarbucksIdea.com, a community Web site that allows customers to post feedback and provide suggestions on the Starbucks products, experience, and involvement.

MyStarbucksIdea allows customers to write about what they like or dislike about the Starbucks brand across a wide array of categories.  Site visitors can post anything and everything they want about changes – innovative or straightforward – and others can vote on the ideas in order for them to hopefully take effect.  The people behind the scenes at Starbucks promise to do all they can to transform the brand into an experience like no other.  Why should you pay the extra buck – or two, three, or four… – for a cup of Starbucks rather than ordering a cup o’ joe from the competitor?  Starbucks is taking notes on what we coffee drinkers want from new flavors to new technology to opening shop in our hometowns to playing better music to going green to serving alcohol (a process in the making).

The goal of MyStarbucksIdea is to connect with customers, giving them the chance to make a difference in the organization’s everyday processes.  By sharing ideas, discussing ideas, and then voting on them, Starbucks customers have seen MSI as a groundbreaking (no pun intended) facet of their favorite coffee company. The site is a frequently used media outlet where customers gather and feel a personal connection with others.  Starbucks tells Forrester Research, “Traffic to the site has been immense right from the beginning. But the participation rates have been what are truly exciting.  We’ve had nearly 75,000 ideas submitted in less than six months, with many ideas receiving thousands of votes and hundreds of comments.”

Now more than ever, customers are given the opportunity to make a difference.  Starbucks has effectively used social media to engage in conversation with its loyals and advocates.  Daring strategies like the one Starbucks has taken have been proven to be successful.  When you enter a Starbucks with a client, co-worker, friend, or date, what do you do? You talk. You take sips of your skinny cinnamon dolce latte with extra foam and cinnamon dust while the person sitting across from you chats about their latest music findings or research courses.  Sip slowly, soak in your surroundings, spread happiness.  Share your Starbucks idea today.  They’ll notice you.

“The Roast”
I think Starbucks is moving in the right direction with the MSI campaign.  Although some of the feedback on the Web site is negative, Starbucks is quick to respond to upset customers.  The company continuously improves upon its business decisions and carries out its mission to be the best.  MyStarbucksIdea is a great tool for the staff and customers to interact with fellow java junkies.  It also motivates consumers to speak their minds, giving them a boost of satisfaction when others agree with their fresh ideas.  Starbucks appears in a number of social networking outlets, all of which are valuable to their customer online base.  It is difficult to point out a tactic upon which they can improve.  MyStarbucksIdea even has its own Twitter account on which it posts the most popular submitted ideas.  Easy registration and site navigation make the experience even more fulfilling.  If MSI continues to be successful, Starbucks will experience a sweet-smelling and flavorful future.

Drink up!