RESULTS: A Survey: Does local news matter? Is it all about the Medium?

The following results are based on an academic exercise for my Masters Degree in Social Media. We were asked to create a survey on any topic of interest. The survey was pushed out via Facebook to 282 friends and via Twitter to 3600+ followers. I sent the survey out randomly at different times over a 5 day period. It is a small sample taken in an uncontrolled (snowball method) environment.

Chart_Q6_140923

When I saw only 64 respondents to my Local News Survey from a week ago, I feared the number indicated low-interest in local news. While that statement may be true, it was not true of the majority who took my survey.

SO WHAT WAS MY GOAL?

I had four main objectives for my survey:

  1. Gauge interest in local news
  2. Understand how people are consuming news and what their sources are
  3. Analyze social media’s role in local news
  4. Understand why people think local news is important or irrelevant

SOME KEY INFORMATION AND FINDINGS

I began the survey with a question designed to weed out those who do not consider themselves local news consumers.

Chart_Q1_140923
Figure One

As you can see in Figure One, 61 people responded and 3 people skipped this question. Forty-two people consider themselves local news consumers while 19 did not. So a majority of just under 69% of those who responded have an interest and consume local news. Looking at the demographics of those who continued the survey, the majority skewed  towards women and the majority age range was 35 to 44. (Click image for larger view)

In looking at the demographics, it is good to keep in mind that they align with my age and gender. Given that I pushed this survey out to my Facebook friends and Twitter followers, that would make sense.

I was particularly interested in how people are consuming news. I know when I no longer was working full-time in a television broadcast newsroom, the way I consumed news shifted greatly. I saw it as a professional responsibility to watch our on-air product in addition to the other ways I chose to consume news. I found once I was no longer obligated to watching on-air, I primarily consumed news via phone, tablet and/or computer. My survey affirms that others behave in the same way, with a majority consuming news through multiple platforms (Figure Two).

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Figure Two

Given my focus on how people socially consume news I wanted to look at which major platforms were being used most (Figure Three). To no surprise, Facebook is the dominant source of news consumption on a social platform. I was surprised to see Vine positioned ahead of Banjo, however, Banjo is an app that isn’t as well-known to those working outside the news industry. Banjo is an app that pushes out news stories at a local level. You can choose to receive stories specific to your location (or any location) or keep it very broad. It is growing in popularity but it doesn’t have the name recognition of Vine. While some newsrooms are using Vine, it is an app that hasn’t been fully utilized widespread by journalists.

As an aside in hindsight, I should have included an open-ended option where respondents could add other social platforms, they use.

Chart_Q5_140923
Figure Three

 BEYOND THE NUMBERS

In this survey, I also included open-ended answer options. I wanted to know what networks people watched, what local sites they get their news from and what favorites they had. Part of my thought process in asking was also to see if they could simply remember and name the brand they gravitated to. You can access this information in the full survey link below.

I expected candor in an anonymous survey, but I was still impressed with the comments people included. Beyond candor, I expected more apathy and was pleasantly surprised by the thoughtful comments to open-ended questions. Below is a good sample of some responses to the “Why is local news important?” and “Why is local news irrelevant?” sections:

  • “Because you can get the same information online without as much sensationalism.”
  • “Depending on the source, it is often skewed by bias of sponsors, or the who’s who involved, you can get “motivated yellow journalism”. Small towns like ours often simply copy and paste from other local outlets or national outlets.”
  • “Too much news and too few resources sometimes lead to doing “easy” stories instead of important stories that impact everyone; especially if the staff is young and inexperienced.”
  • “Local TV news s irrelevant because I get the information faster via internet (Facebook, Twitter). The broadcast is more of a recap of what I already know.”
  • “We count on local news organizations to cover issues that are relevant to our community; they should be the watchdogs of public government, serve the viewers, and make the community better.”
  • “It provides immediate news of interest and relevance to the community. They are the stories that most directly impact me and my neighborhood.
  • Beyond the national headlines that affect America, it’s important to have smaller units (local networks, local papers) that highlight stories/issues that affect smaller communities, perhaps more directly…”

If you are interested in a little deeper dive, below is a PDF of the full survey.

Full Results of News Survey

CONCLUSIONS:

I would be remiss if I didn’t say that many Facebook friends and Twitter followers are journalists both in television and digital. Additionally, many followers on Twitter work in social media or some sort of digital environment. To that end, the audience for this survey definitely skews towards news consumers and doesn’t necessarily represent the general viewing/consuming public.

While it is a scary time to be a journalist, I also think it is one of the GREATEST times to be a journalist. We are more connected than we have ever been. That allows us to tell even more and possibly better stories. All we have to do is pay attention.

julie-laird-quote-we-are-still-fine-tuning-the-programming-but-we-are

A Survey: Does local news matter? Is it all about the medium?

A news sense is really a sense of what is important, what is vital, what has color and life – what people are interested in. That’s journalism.

Arthur Burton Rascoe, American Journalist

I’m sitting in a food court in downtown Atlanta on break from the Social Media Today Social Shake-Up Conference. It’s a collection of multimedia thought leaders, brand managers, CEOs, social media junkies and digital dorks. (I say with great affection!)

I’m here because like many, I’m going through a transition. I have been a television journalist for years working in local newsrooms across the country and most recently CNN. I love and believe in journalism. I love being an advocate for those who don’t have a voice or platform. I love telling stories.

Social media is a game changer for the Fourth Estate. With Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, You Tube, Vine and whatever comes next the people have a platform. They have a voice…and they control it. When news breaks, citizen journalists are posting video and eyewitness accounts before news managers can even deploy their crews. Information is a currency no longer reserved for the traditional media.The need for traditional broadcast news is waning. Ratings are down and just this week Gallup released information showing mistrust is at an all-time low when it comes to mass media.

“Journalism” is trying to figure out its next evolution. So am I. The questions I often consider:

  • Is there really less interest in news or is lack of interest format-related?
  • Is there still a thirst for trusted, credible news organizations?
  • Are we telling the wrong stories?

That brings us to this week’s academic exercise on surveys.  I created a survey to examine the habits of news consumers, specifically local news consumers: Survey of Local News Consumer Habits

Using a snowball sample, my objectives are to:

  1. Gauge interest in local news
  2. Understand how people are consuming news and what their sources are
  3. Analyze social media’s role in local news
  4. Understand why people think local news is important or irrelevant

I am hoping to gain insight into whether it is the content or the medium that is affecting low news viewership on television. I started with a screening question to keep data focused solely on those who do consume local news. I included open-ended questions and comment fields in certain locations to learn where people are getting their news from. I also wanted to allow space for direct commentary on the value or lack of value in local television news. Analysis of my findings will be posted next week. To be continued…

opinion-poll-comic

Honesty, A Peacock and Taking It to the Mat

Week 7 Assignment: Pick 3 brands that are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and at least LinkedIn/Pinterest/YouTube. Evaluate them by the criteria presented below. These are the three brands I am profiling this week:

________________________________________________________________________________ the-honest-company-logo

The Honest Company sells eco-friendly, non-toxic baby and household products. They identify their mission as educating, inspiring, and fulfilling the promise of creating a healthy and sustainable future for our children. The bulk of their business is online but their products can now be found in Target as well.  

Spinning the Integrated Mix? 

(For the purpose of this blog entry, I will be using the Boundless.com definition of IMC for all 3 brand evaluations: Integrated marketing communications is an approach used by organizations to brand and coordinate their marketing efforts across multiple communication channels. Typically, communication tools for IMC encompass both traditional and digital media such as blogs, webinars, search engine optimization, radio, television, billboards and magazines.)

The Honest brand is very successful at integrating its marketing message. The brand has its own website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube accounts. Additionally you can opt in to receive emails from the company and blog updates:

Email option and social links

Email option and social links

Honest also utilizes traditional print ads in various clean living and parenting magazines:

They also use have commercials that are paid spots on air and online featuring real life customers like this one:

Fonts, Photos, Colors & Consistency

The Honest Company is on their game when it comes to consistency. The brand logo is featured prominently on all channels, they use the same font, the same hue of blue, the same floral background with an occasional color adjustment and their mission and introduction is the same on each channel. They are Consistent with a capital C as you can see below:

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Keeping It Real or Taking a Nap?

In both our lectures and readings, we learn to ensure integrated marketing success brands must post content regularly. Honest succeeds in this appropriate to the channels. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+ have all been updated as recently as 2 hours from me writing this with the oldest update being 17 hours ago.

Facebook post on Honest Timeline

Facebook post on Honest Timeline

LinkedIn and YouTube are not updated as frequently with the most recent updates taking place 12 days ago on LinkedIn and within 2 weeks on YouTube. Honest uses LinkedIn to post job openings so it would make sense that updates only occur when there is a demand.

Right This Way Please

Take a look at this infographic. It represents how The Honest Company pushes to its social channels. The flow of traffic is color coordinated. A little jumbled, right?  The Honest Company is very integrated but there is no rhyme or reason to what channel pushes where.  Some traffic flows both ways and some does not. I would definitely streamline this.

The Honest Company Social Flow

Where each Honest Company Channel pushes to

There is one certainty. Every channel pushes back to the main site which is the only place you can purchase products on the Honest channels.

#Success or #Fail

I’m a big fan of the hashtag. As a journalist, I use it as a research tool, a feedback tool and a way to find communities. The Honest Company has fully embraced the hashtag. Go to any Pinterest board, tweet, Facebook post, Google+ post and Instagram post and you will see hashtags aggregating all sorts of content. On their Facebook page, they even have a tab devoted to #TheHonestCompany:

hashtagonFB

#TheHonestCompany featured on company Facebook page

Worth Noting

I spent a great deal of time reviewing their blog recently but it’s worth mentioning here again.   It’s a good blog for eco-conscious parents and it covers a WIDE variety of topics. So I encourage you to check out Honestly.

A final note, I’m an Honest Company customer. I use their products and they have had their ups and downs.  That said, they are steadily working towards a solid, consistent quality customer experience. I had an issue with both their diaper tabs once and their wipes. I sent a note to the company and received a prompt reply. I noticed in time that both issues were addressed so I am guessing that others expressed similar concerns. ________________________________________________________________________________ NBC-News-Logo

A leading source of global news and information for more than 75 years. The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City’s Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago (NBC LinkedIn)

Spinning the Integrated Mix?

NBC News is another brand that is very successful integrating its marketing message. NBC News has its own website, blog on tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube account. Additionally, the key shows Nightly News, Today, Meet the Press and Dateline have their own sites with the look and feel of the show. For this entry, I am focusing solely on the over-arching NBC News brand, not a specific show.

Occasionally you will see print ads for NBC News in newspapers or magazines. Typically this will be around big events like the Olympics or during an election season. You might see an “image” spot that focuses on talent like Brian Williams or Matt Lauer as opposed to a specific story. NBC News will also turn to print for what is called a POP or Proof of Performance ad during the traditional ratings periods:

They will also create promotional commercials as well. These typically coincide with a new show launch, talent change, ratings period or big event. Here are a couple examples from the archives:

Additionally, you can also sign up to receive breaking news alerts from NBC News via email and text messaging.

Fonts, Photos, Colors & Consistency

NBC News, like The Honest Company, has mastered consistency across its channels. It starts with the iconic peacock logo. It is known the world over. The logo is featured prominently wherever NBC is. As you saw above in that “Everywhere” promo from nearly 3 years ago, NBC News was at the forefront of integration when it comes to the news industry. Who they are is clearly stated on each channel right when you arrive or by clicking on the “About” section. The copy is the same no matter where you visit NBC News. Fonts, colors and presentation are also clear and consistent. On most channels you will see a version of the same photo of 30 Rock, NBC’s famed headquarters. No matter where you go, you know you are spending time with NBC News:

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Keeping It Real or Taking a Nap?

By the nature of what they do and who they are, there is no nap time for NBC News. The brand is perfectly positioned to be active and consistent in posting to their channels. The news never sleeps and by all accounts, NBC News does not either.

They appear to use Twitter, Facebook and Google+ almost hourly. Of note, the content they post is different on different channels which I think is smart. They are giving their consumer variety. Their blog is updated daily as is Pinterest. Instagram had gaps here and there but still has consistent activity. I was also impressed to see their YouTube account (below) updated daily as well. They are in the video business so it makes sense but not all news outlets are successful at this and I speak from personal experience!

You Tube updates every day

You Tube updates every day

Right This Way Please

NBC News has a more organized approach to its social channel push than The Honesty Company but there is still some channels that don’t push to others. To me, it makes sense to have all channels marketed on all channels with something as simple as social buttons. Take a look at the social push flow chart for NBC News.

NBC News Social Flow

Where each NBC News Channel pushes to

I do think it is smart in terms of SEO that the channel pushing the most places is Google+. Like The Honest Company, all channels push to the main website.

#Success or #Fail AND Worth Noting

As I wrote up above, I am a fan of the hashtag (when used wisely). Interestingly enough though, NBC News seems to only use hashtags on their Instagram channel and I think it’s brilliant.  For journalists, this is not a bad thing. When you go to NBC News Twitter or Facebook accounts, they are very clean, professional and streamlined connecting you to NBC content. The use of the hashtag as a mechanism for search could potentially take you away from NBC content. I think this is an interesting and effective strategy for a news organization that wants you to stay with them.

Since Instagram is both content community and social channel, hashtag use there is effective for searching similar images and videos. Ironically, while spending time on their pages I came across this NBC article on hashtag abuse and overuse and thought I would share it. Happy reading!

Two other items worth noting before we move on from NBC News:  They are also on Flickr and Vimeo.  The Flickr appears to be used for behind the scenes and staff events and hasn’t been updated in quite a while. Vimeo though was updated as recently as this week and also seems to be an internal sharing channel, not a site for publishing mass news events.

___________________________________________________________________________

mandukalogoFounded in 1997, Manduka was built on the simple idea that a better yoga mat can make a world of difference. Manduka strives to support and enrich the yoga community by providing premium quality mats and products while respecting employees, customers, materials, and the environment. Created for and by yoga enthusiasts, Manduka’s technical and purpose-driven product designs meet and often exceed the distinct needs of all practitioners. Today Manduka’s products, which include yoga mats, towels, yoga straps, water bottles, and bags, are sold in more than 35 countries around the world. Not only focusing on superior design, Manduka also promotes their ethos of quality, thoughtfulness and sustainability in all realms of their business (Manduka LinkedIn)

Spinning the Integrated Mix?

Manduka populates several social channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest. This is in addition to their own website and their blog The Upward Frog.

They use print ads in Yoga Journal and other fitness magazines geared towards yoga enthusiasts and those who like to spend time outdoors.

Manduka is a small but very popular company within its industry. It is considered the leader in quality mats for yoga practice. They do not use traditional commercials on air or radio. They have created Manduka TV on YouTube where they produce videos about yoga life, eco-friendly partners and thoughts on deepening your practice.

Fonts, Photos, Colors & Consistency

While Manduka is present on many channels, they lack the consistency that research and our lectures tells us makes for successful IMC. For example, there is no uniformity in which logo is used. Across the channels I mentioned above, 3 different logos are used:

For the most part the company sticks to the same colors: red, black and white. The red does seem to be a different shade depending on which logo is used. There are at least 3 different fonts used in the company title and imagery is not consistent.  As you will see in the slideshow of their channels below, there is a disjointed feel to their channels. The Google+ page is completely off -brand.  Facebook and Twitter have photos from the same photo shoot but not the same photo. You will note the dog and the model are the same.

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The mission or “about” section or tag line is also inconsistent on their channels. For example, on Instagram you will find:

Life is one long, beautiful yoga class. Summer is to LiveON, love on and practice on.

On Twitter you will find:

Manduka was founded by yogis on the simple idea that a better mat can make a world of difference.

On Facebook you will find:

Manduka, for your practice, and for our world™. Namaste.
Mission

At Manduka, our mission is to support and enrich the yoga community we serve by providing the very highest quality mats and accessories. We do this because we truly believe in the power of yoga to change lives and make the world a better place. We are committed to designing and creating thoughtful, useful, lasting products whose purpose and value are clear. And, we do so in a way that respects our employees, our customers, our materials and our environment. It is our hope that each and every Manduka product brings joy to our user and helps spread the wonder and wisdom of yoga. Manduka, for your practice and for our world

…and that is just a few examples! Most of their channels are different.

 

Keeping It Real or Taking a Nap?

Overall, it seems that Manduka is focused on some channels and not on others. I think sometimes the pressure to be everywhere is so great that companies open an account but then fail their target consumer by not programming it properly. For some companies, being focused on one or two channels may be the best way to go. I think for a company the size of Manduka (11 to 50 employees according to their LinkedIn profile), they may be better served to just pick a few channels and focus. Social Media Today tells us:

When you’re a small or medium-sized business with limited marketing resources, or even a larger business who wants the best return on investment, focusing on one social platform gives you the benefit of gaining the most sophisticated expertise and most effective strategies for that network. It also works because it allows you to learn the voice and approach required for that network. (Nicole Karlis)

Manduka has a Google+ page that has not had a new post since August 2012. Additionally, when you click on “Videos” on that Google+ page it says there are no videos. Manduka, however, has a nice YouTube channel where they have created Manduka TV. So clearly they have the content, they just aren’t programming Google+. As we know, this is not good for search engine optimization.

Manduka posts to Twitter a couple times a day and Facebook daily. Their Pinterest and Instagram pages are also well maintained with great content and beautiful photos. If I was working for Manduka, these are the channels I would focus on.

Right This Way Please

Below you will see where Manduka channels are pushing. As you can see, the Google+ page doesn’t even drive traffic to the main site for purchasing products. As I mentioned above, they should either commit and build up their Google+ account or they should delete it. It does not serve them well in its current state.

Manduka Social Push Flow

Where each Manduka Channel pushes to

The failures with social push don’t stop there though. Instagram and the company’s own blog do not prominently push to their main site. Considering Instagram is one of their well-maintained channels, I would rectify this immediately.

As with The Honest Company, there is no rhyme or reason to the way they push out from each channel. It is definitely disjointed.

#Success or #Fail

On the channels Manduka is using well, they get a thumbs up from me for hashtag success. They utilize the following hashtags often: #LiveOn #KidsYoga #practice #whatmatters. They primarily use hashtags on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. They aren’t overused and they are relevant to the post.

Worth Noting

Despite what I would say is not the greatest IMC approach, Manduka does have a very nice blog full of interesting content. It’s used to tell stories about sustainability, yoga success and yoga for kids. Yoga for Kids is something Manduka is very supportive of which I think is pretty cool. They also use the blog to share community photos and engage with their consumer. The blog would be much stronger if they posted more often. It appears to only be updated a couple of times a month.

Final Thoughts

Overall I would have to say of the three brands I spent time with this week, NBC News has the slight edge over The Honest Company. In all fairness though, the business itself positions NBC News to be a constantly engaged brand. For a product-oriented brand, The Honest Company does a great job keeping all its channels programmed. To that end, my only real critique would be they should streamline their social push to include social buttons for all channels on each channel.

Just For Fun

One last thing before I go this week…I’m adding a “just for fun” to my blogs with a little extra something relating back in to each week’s topic. For my Just For Fun debut, I give you the very talented Jimmy Fallon and his take on the hashtag:

Sources:

https://www.boundless.com/marketing/integrated-marketing-communication/introduction-to-integrated-marketing-communications/introduction-to-integrated-marketing-communications/

Nicole Karlis. (March 28, 2014). Why It’s Best to Rock at One Channel, Not All. Retrieved June 27, 2014, http://socialmediatoday.com/nicolekarlis/2295631/social-media-why-it-s-best-rock-one-channel-not-all

 

Blog Day Afternoon

THE DAILY BEAST

The Daily Beast

The Daily Beast

Who are we? What is our purpose? Why are we uniquely awesome?

The Daily Beast falls into a couple of categories as outlined in this week’s lecture. It is a group blog in that it brings in a stable of authors. It is professional in that it is of a high standard, produces content several times a day and is revenue-oriented. Above all though, it is a news blog.  The Daily Beast was founded in 2008 as the vision of Tina Brown and IAC Chairman Barry Diller. In 2010, The Daily Beast merged with Newsweek. According to the site it is…

Curated to avoid information overload, the site is dedicated to breaking news and sharp commentary. The Daily Beast is the winner of two consecutive Webby awards for “Best News” site and regularly attracts more than 17 million unique online visitors a month. John Avlon serves as Editor in Chief and Rhona Murphy is the Chief Executive Officer.

To me, its purpose is to publish American and world news, opinion, entertainment, technology, health, travel and other feature information. I also find it unique in that it’s all the news that’s “fit to print” but to the above statement, it is sharp. It has an edge. Its biggest competitor is Huffington Post (which is more successful) but I find the Daily Beast to be a better visual experience. It’s target feels more millennial whereas Huff Po feels more geared towards Gen X and Gen Y women.

The Daily Beast Cheat Sheet

The Daily Beast Cheat Sheet

How we live up to our “rep”…(ok, ok, our brand!)

The Daily Beast’s signature is the “Cheat Sheet”. It takes news and puts it into a short, easily consumed list for the news consumer on the go. It’s    a top 10 of the day and when news breaks, they add that to the top of the list, living up to its brand. Casey Kasem died today and as you can see to the left ,  the news is perched at the top.

The Cheat Sheet also lives up to its brand in that it’s not “information overload”. You get a sneak peek into the “sharp commentary” aspect by      the red titles for the Cheat Sheet stories. The entire blog takes its lead from the Cheat Sheet in that it presents news in tidy window boxes with  bright imagery, clever titles and links if you are hungry for more.

 Life in the fast lane or Traffic Jam?

Interestingly enough, The Daily Beast experiences good traffic despite its lack of prominence in search. I googled “news”- “news blogs” – “best  news blogs” – “news blogs I should follow” and it didn’t appear on the first page. According to Capital New YorkThe Daily Beast’s average  unique monthly visitors are up to more than 17 million this year from 13.5 million in 2013.

They have a couple of things going for them.  John Avlon, editor-in-chief is a CNN contributor appearing regularly on air. That’s free advertising  right there. They also have the name recognition and integrated marketing from the Newsweek brand. Links from Newsweek will push to The  Daily Beast and vice versa. They also have a strong Facebook page (although not so great this week!) and nearly 700,000 Twitter followers as seen here:

Our success…what we’re missing…and making money?

The Daily Beast does have advertising throughout its pages. On the day I spent analyzing, it featured several ads from Lexus for their new Hybrid.

Based on the criteria outlined this week, The Daily Beast would be considered successful.

  • New posts are published often.
  • Its key bloggers feature links to their Twitter accounts and social share buttons are featured as seen here:

    Twitter Link for Writer and  Social Buttons For Sharing

    Twitter Link for Writer and
    Social Buttons For Sharing

  • The Daily Beast creates original content, the best example being Beast Books, its imprint for publishing digital and then print books for writers
  • They make it easy to subscribe to content. They offer 4 different email options based on topic:
  • Longevity: The Daily Beast was “born” on October 6, 2008. It’s still going strong and growing nearly 6 years later.

I don’t know that I think this blog is missing anything but I have two thoughts. First, from a social perspective, they highlight Facebook and Twitter wisely at the top of their page as seen here:

 

In their articles though, they advocate sharing via Facebook, Twitter and Google+. They have a Google+ page with over a half a million followers and 6.5 million views. I recommend adding a Google+ icon to the top of their page. It would help with SEO on Google which is clearly something they have an issue with and it just keeps consistency.

One other observation, I get a lot of email. Everyone does. So cluttering up my inbox with 4 more emails as opposed to one is not that appealing. Why not create one all-inclusive email? (or at least offer that as another option!)

HONESTLY… THE BLOG FOR THE HONEST COMPANY:

Honest Home Page

Honestly… The Honest Company Blog

Who are we? What is our purpose? Why are we uniquely awesome?

The Honest Company is one of my favorite brands. I have two girls under two and receive their diapers monthly. I also branched out into laundry detergent, soaps, cleaning sprays for floors, multipurpose and food. I also love their hair products and body lotions. When I became a mom, I just wanted to be better. This company helped. They were founded by actress Jessica Alba, Christopher GaviganBrian Lee and Sean Kane to ensure parents have access to non-toxic, eco-friendly, effective and beautiful family products that don’t break the bank.  They are also a certified B Corporation so according to their site they…

“…strive to promote sustainability, engage employees and community, and support non-profit initiatives working to solve critical health and social issues affecting children and families.”

With their blog “Honestly…” they take their purpose or mission and put it out there as a catch-all of information for anyone wanting to live a cleaner life. It is both a Professional blog in that it has a high standard, supports the main brand The Honest Company and to that extent, is revenue oriented. It is secondarily a group blog. It is compiled by in-house employees, guest doctors, nutritionists and experts in the field of non-toxic products and clean living. They only launched the blog in July 2012 and when they did, they put together this video. I think it captures a little of their unique presence:

 

How we live up to our “rep”…(ok, ok, our brand!)

All anyone need do is visit the blog to see how Honestly lives up to The Honest Company brand. The best example is the MANY categories full of interesting informative posts.

The blog features:

Honest Categories

  •    Checklists: guides, tips, shopping lists, holiday to-dos, resolutions and so on
  •    Design & DYI: non-toxic, earth-friendly ways to design and do it yourself
  •    FYI: interesting facts and advice about the earth, food and being green
  •    Going Natural: staying green, recycling, composting, etc.
  •    Health & Wellness: information geared towards health and wellness
  •    Healthy Home: keeping your home clean, green and non-toxic
  •    Honest Kitchen: keeping your kitchen and your food clean, green and non-toxic
  •    Honest Nutrition: diving deeper into keeping your food non-toxic with recipes!
  •    Honest Travel: how to best travel with your little one (& some product plugs!)
  •    Honestbaby: all things green, non-toxic and clean for your smallest family member
  •    Honestly Pure: keeping food, skin care and other household items pure
  •    Honestly Speaking: a collection of motivational quotes
  •    Inside Honest: highlighting the employees and founders of The Honest Company
  •    Kidding Around: fun things to do with your kids
  •    Miscellaneous
  •    Q & A: experts answering questions about health, food, the environment and so on…
  •    Quick Tips: exactly what it says!
  • Say What: defining long chemicals and agents and other difficult things found in everyday items
  • Smaller Style: keeping your little one a non-toxic fashionista
  • Social Goodness: giving back and paying it forward
  • Style Simplified: simple styles for adults
  • What’s Inside: breaks down and defines complicated chemicals and other items
  • What’s New: featuring new products from The Honest Company (*good integrated marketing!)

Life in the fast lane or Traffic Jam?

The Honest Company clearly relies on its main site to drive traffic to its blog. That said, its main site does very well in search. I searched “organic baby diapers” and “organic baby products” and The Honest Company comes up at the top in a paid ad for both searches:

When I searched “organic baby blogs” The Honest Company was nowhere to be found above the fold.

Given the celebrity status of Jessica Alba, I am sure some traffic comes through her social pages. She features a link to The Honest Company (not the “Honestly…”  blog) on both her Facebook and Instagram pages but NOT her Twitter page:

 

Our success…what we’re missing…and making money?

There is no advertising for any other products on Honestly…only those sold by The Honest Company. Much like their brand, they keep the blog looking light, airy and clean.  When they market their own products, they do it in a way that makes you feel like you are getting information and tips, not having a product forced at you. For example, click on Honest Travel and you will see posts on the best ways to travel with kids, integrated with great little travel totes stuffed with travel-sized Honest products. I think other eco-friendly brands could advertise here but The Honest Company has branched out so much it would be hard to find something that wasn’t a competitor. I also think that not having the page riddled with ads creates a tone like the company. Clean.

Based on the criteria presented in class, Honestly is a somewhat successful blog:

  • People are still posting and commenting.
  • There is new content posted a couple of times a week.
  • There are social share buttons after each post.
  • The site is primarily FULL of original content.
  • They make it easy to subscribe and follow The Honest Company main site socially:

 

There are some things “Honestly…” could honestly do better! First, the author of each post  is not always clear. Some posts have an author indicated and others don’t. While they have sharing buttons after posts as you saw above, they don’t include twitter or other social network links for their authors when they do identify him or her.

The Honest Company was founded in January 2012 and the blog “Honestly…” began in July of that year. So it is only 2 years old. It seems to have active contributors but it does not quite have that longevity yet. The potential is there though because the content is strong, popular and relevant. The Honest Company has seen great success and Jessica Alba and her team recently raised $52 million to expand their company. So they don’t seem to be going anywhere but up!

One of the things I don’t like about the blog? I think there are too many categories. As you saw above, there are 23 categories and some clearly overlap. When you look at a post, several are marked with multiple categories. I think this could be streamlined into an even cleaner look that is not so overwhelming for the consumer visiting the blog.

 

ATHLETA CHI: THE BLOG FOR ATHLETA:

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Athleta Chi The Blog for Athleta

Who are we? What is our purpose? Why are we uniquely awesome?

Hello my name is Kelly Frank Green. I am an Athletaholic. I have been this way for about 18 months give or take a few days.

Ok. All kidding aside, if you know me or follow this blog, you know I am an Athleta junkie. So why wouldn’t I want to talk about Athleta Chi. Athleta Chi is the blog for the Athleta brand.  The blog started in 2008, the same year Petaluma, California-based Athleta was acquired by Gap Inc.

To me, Athleta Chi is primarily a Professional blog. It does, however, have some characteristics of a Group and Recreational blog. It’s Professional because it is of a high standard, content is published often, it is the brand voice of Athleta and it is revenue-oriented to an extent in that it pushes to Athleta’s product. It has a little Group aspect though in that the blog has several authors, some with their own niche blogs, all coming together to have centralized content. Last, there is a little Recreational aspect to this blog as well in that it IS characterized by passion for fitness, empowerment and inspiration.

I find this blog to be unique because it is solely focused on every aspect of empowering a woman as an independent force, unique and strong in and of herself. It’s not about being a mom, a wife, a sister (in the biological sense), a yogini, a marathoner and so on. There is nothing wrong with any of those…I fall in most categories. Athleta Chi doesn’t focus on any one specifically ~ it focuses on all the things that make up our feminine energy. Moreover, all the voices on this blog are women.

How we live up to our “rep”…(ok, ok, our brand!)

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View of how the blog lays out in each category

The brand message for Athleta is “Power to the She” and the theme for Athleta Chi, as clearly stated at the top of the blog is, “connecting women to the energy of inspiration”. Each section (except Fit Style which features photo galleries) looks like this:

Each page is posted by a woman. The blog is also full of tutorials, recipes, expert guidance, empowering stories, community comment boards and places to share your fitness style.

Life in the fast lane or Traffic Jam?

Much like The Honest Company, it appears Athleta relies on its main site to drive traffic to its blog. I google searched “blogs for women”,  “fitness blogs for women”, “empowerment blogs for women”, and “fitness blogs”.  Athleta Chi was not found in the first page. I, like most consumers, did not look past the first page.

When I searched “yoga clothes” and “fitness clothes for women” the main Athleta site appeared on the first page but was not very prominent:

As mentioned in a previous post about Athleta, they do promote their blog on their Instagram page. As I recommended in that blog, I think Athleta should create a link to the blog on all their social sites, especially Pinterest. Pinterest is heavily trafficked by women so it seems logical you would promote a blog geared towards inspiring women on that social channel.

Our success…what we’re missing…and making money?

Like The Honest Company again, Athleta doesn’t advertise on their blog except for their own product. They don’t make it feel like you are being targeted to buy though. The 6th category on the blog is called Fit Style. It is a section where every day people like you and me show off their workout style:

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The Fit Style category

Naturally, it is all Athleta wear and you can click back to the main company site to purchase. They wisely bury this marketing though through storytelling by peers. Any healthy food brand, Manduka mats or various athletic gear could advertise on this blog as well. Like The Honest blog though, the lack of advertising works. The blog is supposed to be inspirational, zen-like–Chi! Banners and side rails don’t emanate Chi!

In measuring Athleta Chi against our criteria for success, I would say it does well.

  • New posts are published a couple of times a week
  • A majority of the content is original whether its product review, tutorials for other women or recipes.
  • Longevity: This blog has been active since 2008. Six years and still going…
  • Not only does each post come with social sharing buttons but it also has a little author bio at the bottom with links to her social channels:
  • Finally, in terms of success, it is very easy to subscribetotheAthleta Chi content. As you can see the email option lives just above the fold. They do this not only on the home page but on the Fitness, Wellness and every other page on the blog. You can also see the social channels represented in this section and just below that are tabs for the newest posts, the newest commentsandanAthleta twitter feed:

These three may not be the best in the business but they certainly aren’t the worst. What they are…is a little piece of me…and isn’t that what blogging is for?  I’m a journalist and therefore a news junkie (The Daily Beast). I’m a mom and therefore constantly wanting to do better for my girls (The Honest Company). Last but not least, I’m a woman and therefore, need to be my best self to be a great journalist and an awesome mommy (Athleta Chi).