Ali Velshi: “Hairless Prophet of Doom” Turned Social Media Evangelist

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Ali Velshi & I in the CNN Newsroom

Assignment Snapshot: Find a reporter who is enhancing their journalism through their use of social media. Explain why. Write a 500 word feature, including screen grabs of their social media activity. You may wish to conduct an original interview with your subject.

Ali Velshi doesn’t sleep.

No one will ever convince me otherwise. He’s the most curious person I’ve ever met. A REQUIREMENT for a journo. He has a brain that doesn’t stop working which made our professional marriage at CNN a successful one. When we fought, it could clear a room. When we innovated, it was something special. I’ve never wanted to strangle someone so much that I would walk through fire for.

We both live, breathe, eat and sleep what we do. It’s less about balance and more about passion because I can tell you, Ali is as equally devoted to his friends and family. If you are a friend of Ali’s you’re a friend for life. If you’re not a friend…well….

So why do I mention all this?  Because everything I just said about Ali is embodied in his social presence. I know a lot of great journalists who use social in different ways:  Ed Henry, Anderson Cooper, Adam Harding, Wolf Blitzer, Jack Gray. Evolving into the kind of reporter/correspondent that social media demands wasn’t work for Ali Velshi though — it was instinct. It just happened.

He’s always been that way-born in Kenya, raised in Toronto, got a degree in religion but then became the Hairless Prophet of Doom. Now you can find Ali on Al Jazeera America or in a book store or on Linked In  (His latest offering: State of Media: TV Journalism Is Sick. Here’s How To Cure It) or pretty much anywhere his consumer is.

So if you read my blog at all…you know I’m a fan of lists. In keeping with tradition, here are 6 perfect examples of how Ali Velshi is the quintessential Twitter Journalist-Evangelist:

1. When you are a journalist, the price of admission is breaking news. Ali is always on top of breaking news and capitalizes on reach by using the #BREAKING hashtag that aggregates such content:

https://twitter.com/AliVelshi/status/606803177774714880

2. If breaking news is the price of admission, engagement is the rent to stay. Ali always engages…even when someone disagrees. (Now as his former executive producer, I’m not gonna lie, there were a few gray hairs on this gal’s head because of some of his heated engagement!)

https://twitter.com/AliVelshi/status/607389015130664960

3. Share. The more you share the work of others, the more people will see you. The more people that see you, the more your work is read. The more your work is read, the more contacts AND support you have. The more contacts and support you have, the greater your chance of becoming an influencer.

https://twitter.com/AliVelshi/status/606115203529474049

4. Ali has embraced the concept of tagging and hash-tagging. The journalist in the social media age must embrace context, virality and the embracing of others. Anyone searching #Crime or #Chicago will see Ali’s tweet. He also tags the Chicago Police Department both calling attention to his work and reaching their audience.

https://twitter.com/AliVelshi/status/606115114555703298

5. The new journalist is also a self-promoter in an effort to become an Influencer. We just have to be. There is a lot of noise out there so putting yourself in front of people often and in interesting ways will continue to expose your stories. Ali could teach a masterclass in promotion. Here are two examples of promoting his television and his journalism. As you can see, he published his journalism straight to Linked In.

https://twitter.com/AliVelshi/status/608780836423479298

6. We have to have fun both when we tell our stories and all the spaces in between. My friend Ali personifies fun.

alisanjay

CLOSING THOUGHTS

This week’s work examined the social media journalism of Alex Thomson. Whether he is covering a family reunion during tragedy or pushing vines of an Ebola-ridden country, his work is an extraordinary use of social media in storytelling. There are many ways in which this medium transformed the modern-day journalist.

Ali Velshi uses his social platforms as a way to extend his reach and engage and dialogue with his audience. He uses it for ideas and instant feedback and to take the temperature of those he serves. I know it has enhanced what he does. I have sat in editorial meetings with him when he brings the viewer voice straight to our table. I have watched from control rooms as he dialogues with the audience in real time. Ali isn’t just a working social journalist, he’s a social evangelist.

We had a little technical difficulty but the conversation picks up just a little after where we left off…

Special thanks to my dear friend and former colleague Ali Velshi for taking the time to talk with me. If you aren’t following him, you should. It’s never a dull moment with the hairless prophet of doom.

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

Rise Above the Noise: An Integrated Marketing Proposal for BullHorn Media

Amplify-Your-Image-Bullhorn_LOGO

 Let’s face it. There is a lot of noise in the world.  Like  this. Tweet that. Share This. Choose us. Pick me.

The bombardment is never-ending. It’s hard to be  heard in a 24/7 world without dissolving into a sea of  white noise.

Want to rise above the noise? That’s where we come  in.

rise above

We’re BullHorn Media…we amplify your image.

___________________________________________________________________________________

If I were writing the story of BullHorn Media, that is how I would begin. Today’s consumer is savvy. They don’t want to be over-marketed, under-sold and spinned. They want an authentic experience but they want to know they are in the hands of experts.  They want personal attention with professional results. BullHorn Media is uniquely positioned to do just that.

BullHorn Media is twenty plus years of experience in videography, production, design and story-telling.  It is the brain child of Mark and Lisa LeGrand with roots dating back to the early 90s. What started out as a husband and wife team capturing love stories flourishes decades later as a full-service production company serving corporate clientele.   Don’t let the humble beginning dissuade you. It shows what hard work can do.

One of the visionaries behind BullHorn Media is an award-winning craftsman. Mark LeGrand has been repeatedly recognized for his talent and creativity in editing and video production. What makes Mark excel is his never-ending desire to learn in an ever-changing technology driven world.  He has a thorough understanding of the latest equipment ensuring your desires are not only met but exceeded.

The people of BullHorn Media do not have a “been there, done that” attitude. Each project is unique. Every client is an original. BullHorn Media leads the way because the minds behind it understand vision comes from never settling.  BullHorn Media takes pride in your event the same way you do. Whether it is a black tie affair for a thousand or a convention for three thousand or an intimate speaker series for executives, BullHorn Media will amplify your image to the level you seek.

Bullhorn Media has the experience. BullHorn Media has the tools. BullHorn Media has the technology.

You may be thinking, “Yea…but so do the other guys!”

True. They probably do. What they don’t have though…is the personal touch.

BullHorn Media is designed to give each client a unique attention often missing in today’s world. They are with you from inception to completion. This one-on-one philosophy is a core value of BullHorn Media and they stand by it.  It’s who they are. Amplified.

_____________________________________________________________________________

ProjectPostFeatured_612Wx144H_transp_green-45023_80x80

 Target Audience

BullHorn Media is unique in that it can provide services to a wide variety of clientele. It’s target audience is anyone looking for that extra-added wow factor that only comes with a personal touch including but not limited to:

  • Small private or public businesses in and around or traveling to Orlando, Florida
  • Professional Associations in and around or traveling to Orlando, Florida
  • Non-Profit Organizations in and around or traveling to Orlando, Florida
  • Leadership and Training Organizations in and around or traveling to Orlando, Florida
  • Convention and Meeting Planners

BullHorn Media can:

  • shoot your commercial
  • recap that special leadership event you worked so hard to imagine
  • capture that perfect tutorial for your audience
  • enliven your marketing material to a new visual level
  • memorialize that special key-note address for those who could not make it…or those who just want to live it again

The BullHorn Media target audience is technologically savvy, forward-thinking and evolutionary but appreciates the quiet values of originality, authenticity and story-telling.

Interviews, speaker series, event summaries, meeting recordings, conventions, conferences & fundraisers…it’s not about the size, it’s about the personal touch. Amplified.

sWOT

__________________________________________________________________________________

ProjectPostFeatured_612Wx144H_transp_green-45023_80x80

 Why use an Integrated Marketing Communications Strategy?

BullHorn Media is in the business of image but there is nothing surface about their service. People need to know that.

Who wants to be a king without a kingdom?

The purpose of this Integrated Marketing Communications proposal is to provide recommendations on how to reach new customers while maintaining brand voice, brand vision, brand value and message.

Let’s be real. Small businesses are often resource-challenged. That’s why IMC is a friend. Marketing guru and social media influencer Steve Olenski constantly writes about Integrated Marketing in Forbes.  No, wait…Correction: He preaches and rants! Question the method if you want, but not the message. It is solid. He’s a believer in IMC and wants everyone to get on board.

In one of his latest offerings, Olenksi points out that a recent study revealed 65% of marketers are not giving consumers what they want. 65%!  So that tells me that 65% of businesses are NOT giving customers what they want.

To capture the personal touch and one-on-one experience core to their values, BullHorn Media must understand what their customer wants. There is a lot of noise coming at all of us non-stop. People don’t have to search far to find what they are looking for. BullHorn Media needs to be a part of the conversation.

Or settle for being part of the 65%.

Companies are still operating in silos. Integrating the message of BullHorn Media to a solid, consistent and defined brand makes it easier (and cost-effective) to spread your reach to the channels your customers live and work in.

BullHorn Media must live where their customer lives.

BullHorn Media must listen to their customer.

Only then, can BullHorn Media rise above the noise.

Integrating your marketing accomplishes just what you seek to provide: AN AMPLIFIED IMAGE.

rise above

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ProjectPostFeatured_612Wx144H_transp_green-45023_80x80

Final Thoughts

Creating an Integrated Marketing Communications Plan can be overwhelming when you read a proposal like the one I have presented. (Especially when it is accompanied by a dozen others!) Don’t let it be. Once you get the structure in place it can be very rewarding and even fun to keep the content going. Most important though, it’s worth it. Your customers are out there and on these channels. You need to be where they are to stay relevant.

You have a business with brand message:  Amplify Your Image. When that is your brand message, you need to walk the walk.

Amplify YOUR Image.

Rise Above the Noise.

This Beauty Runs Skin Deep: A Look at Cosmoprof North America’s Social Media Event Planning 2014

Assignment Snapshot: Follow the Cosmoprof North America trade show taking place July 13-15, 2014. Summarize their use of IMC, social media and other channels for the purpose of promoting this show. The following post is for educational purposes only. It is not a formal or paid review of the trade event.

I’m not someone who cruises the beauty aisle, delights in make up or enjoys getting my hair done. It’s not that I’m not feminine…I just held a softball bat years before I ever thought of picking up a make-up brush. Then naturally I entered a business where looking sharp, pretty and fashionable pays. So eventually I found my groove. I know what I like to wear. I’m loyal to my make-up. My lotion. My hair care products. My nail polish. I’m a creature of habit. So I’m the last person in the world that would know what Cosmoprof is or does. Until this week.

What is Cosmoprof North America?

logoCosmoprof is a business-to-business beauty trade show event held in Las Vegas, Nevada. From manufacturers to distributors, salon owners to spa professionals, it is the only event for the beauty industry in North America that encompasses all sectors of the industry under one roof and is exclusively dedicated to business development activities.  It is organized by North American BeautyEvents LLC a joint-venture company between BolognaFiere Group and the Professional Beauty Association.  The 2014 Cosmoprof NA featured 930 exhibitors from 38 countries.

What social media channels are they using? How are they using them prior to the show, during, and after? Type of content?

Cosmoprof NA expands its reach by using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked In, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube and its own website. Additionally, they have a mobile app for Android and iPhone that according to one of their YouTube videos, was redesigned for this year.

Prior to the show, they used each channel in some way to promote the show with the website and app being the primary place for registration, event ticket purchase, schedules, directions, maps and other logistics items. They didn’t post a large amount of content on their social channels before the event. In fact, I expected more.

Their Google Plus page isn’t worth spending any time on. The channel seems to be a default, created only because they use YouTube. There is no additional content on the page and they have 1 follower as of this post.

YouTube featured this video which also appeared on their homepage before, during and after the event:

I found this video misleading. It was shot during the 2013 event but was labeled as “CPNA 2014 Event Highlights”. It also stayed up there after the event (and still is there as of this post) also leading a site visitor to believe that the video was from this year’s show. They didn’t need to do this because they had a welcome video discussing this year’s highlights, promoting their re-designed app and mentioning the hashtag that all should use for the event:

While this video wasn’t as flashy as the first, it was informative, showcases the app and points out relevant networking information like #cosmoprofna. This video should have been the featured one on the website for the event.

Pinterest is used by Cosmoprof to post the products showcased. This is a great channel to showcase beauty products because we know women use Pinterest. We know women like recommendations from Pinterest and we know beauty products rank high in items that people are researching on Pinterest. The Cosmoprof NA people clearly are not promoting it and did not use it during the event. The screen grab you see below was at the start of the event. They had 52 pins and 274 likes. I just looked right now…5 days after the event closed and those stats are still the same.

pinterestnoposting

Pinterest at the start of Cosmoprof NA 2014. By the end, none of the stats had changed.

 

Linked In was used sporadically before the event to drum up excitement, promote speakers, promote specific events and to push registration:

 

It was not used through the event, however. The below screen grab was captured on the last day of the event.  You can see the most recent article was posted 12 days before! (…and as of this post, it is the most recent entry).

Most recent entry on Linked In. Still there as of this blog entry.

Most recent entry on Linked In. Still there as of this blog entry.

 

The Cosmoprof NA website did not change much during the event except to showcase that it was open and then once closed, to reveal a countdown until next year’s event. Otherwise, the content was the same before, during and after:

 

 

You will note I did capture a screen grab 2 hours after the event closed and it still said it was open. When I looked at the site again later this week, the countdown to next year was up. I think the countdown is a great idea. I would have had someone designated to put that up the minute the show ended. It’s a nice touch and it shows that as a brand, you are really on your game.

Facebook was used to promote before the event, featured mild engagement by the brand during and nothing since. Their last post as of this blog was July 15. I did notice that exhibitors and attendees were engaging on the page. The content focused on products and demonstrations. Some posts were used to solicit people to come see their booth:

 

At the start of the event, Cosmoprof’s Facebook page had 5,088 likes and 111 visits. As of this post, it has 126 visits and 5,139 likes. Overall, I would not call that a huge success in engagement considering how many people attend this event.

The greatest engagement and use before during and after the event was on Twitter and Instagram. Both platforms were used to promote product, speakers, events and for people to interact with each other. Twitter was where Cosmoprof was most engaged and exhibitors seemed to dominate Instagram. For the duration of the event, Cosmoprof redirected users to Websta which is a web viewer for Instagram when using a PC or laptop. On both platforms, both Cosmoprof and attendees posted consistently:

 

Despite what I would say was decent engagement on Instagram and Twitter, there was not an overwhelming change in their numbers. Twitter went from 2,688 followers at the start of the event to 2,726 as of this post, an increase of only 38 followers.

Hashtags, retweeting, highlighting certain booths, events?

Cosmoprof did a great job retweeting and highlighting booths and events. They used Twitter as their primary channel for this. I used Tweetdeck to showcase this:

 

Hashtags seemed to be a bit of a challenge. There was not consistent use of just one hashtag. Even Cosmoprof tweeted under different hashtags despite promoting one (#CosmoprofNA) in their welcome video. I think this is in large part to a lack of consistent promotion of that hashtag. It isn’t featured anywhere prominently on their website. It may have been in the materials upon arrival to the event but it is not showcased well online.

I saw multiple hashtags: #cosmoproflv #cosmoprof2014 #CosmoProfNorthAmerica  #cosmoprofna #Cpna2014 #cosmoprof. You can see them throughout the screenshots in this blog. Additionally when I did a search of the preferred #CosmoprofNA on Websta/Instagram on DAY TWO, this came up:

Hashtag search with preferred #cosmoprofna comes up empty

Hashtag search with preferred #cosmoprofna comes up empty

How are sponsors being promoted?

Sponsors were promoted at the bottom of the website, through email (highlighted below under IMC), within the Twitter feed and within the app activity feed.

Can you find other examples of IMC?  

The best use of IMC was within their email campaign. A couple of weeks before the event, I signed up to receive email newsletters from Cosmoprof. I have created a slide show below of some of the ones I received. I found their email to be just the right mix of aggressive but not over the top. When I joined their Linked In Group, I received an email. When I downloaded their app, I received an email. Within both of these were other promotions for the event. Before the event, I received emails showcasing sponsors and special exhibits. Each day of the event, I received a “highlight” email. I found the Cosmoprof email marketing to be one of their best assets:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

They showcase their social channels at both the top and bottom of the website which is smart. Another aspect I liked was the “At a Glance” section you see below:

 

One small critique, I would have promoted the app higher on the page next to the social buttons.

Is branding consistent?

Cosmoprof features a soft blue-green hue, a clean, crisp font and a beautiful woman in a flowing dress as their brand representation. It was consistent through most of their channels (Except Google Plus) and could be seen in the exhibit hall:

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What’s a highlight that stood out to you?

A few highlights worth noting about Cosmoprof North America: I found the app to be very user-friendly, well laid out and to contain everything I needed. It was slick, easy to navigate, promoted engagement and was always up to date.

 

I thought a particularly strong feature was the ability to create an agenda and send yourself reminder messages about events. We all know how it goes when you are at these things and you get caught up networking and schmoozing and can easily miss something you wanted to.

Another highlight was the interactive map.  We have all seen and used interactive maps before but what made this one particularly strong was the social media showcasing. Take a look:

What’s something you felt was missing from their social media effort?

If I was grading Cosmoprof I would give them a B.  They are better than average but not quite great. Overall there was an attention to detail, focus and overall organization lacking. These are my recommendations in no particular order:

  • I would pick 2 channels and really focus on posting to them as a brand and letting attendees and exhibitors know that.  Cosmoprof could have put on their site and in email blasts that Twitter, Instagram and the app would be their primary focus for communicating during the show and then publicize that everywhere, including printed materials at the show.
  • The hashtag needed more promotion. It needed to be featured in every email blast and prominently on the site and everything Cosmoprof posted should have featured #CosmoprofNA.
  • I would have had a flash page ready to go right at the show end thanking sponsors, attendees and adding the countdown. I would have done something similar on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.
  • The website still has old content on it now. It hasn’t changed except for the countdown to next year.
  • I would post the keynote speech from Mark Cuban on the website and YouTube page and push it out on all channels. He has name recognition and it’s a good way to promote the brand.
  • Feedback. Emotions and energy is high in the hours and days after. I saw no posts soliciting feedback from attendees. What can be done better? Highlghts? I would use Facebook as home base for this feedback and use Twitter and the app to drive people to post feedback on the Facebook page.
  • Pinterest: Since Pinterest was used primarily to showcase products, I would have had a board created specifically for the trade show where exhibitors could post if they wanted to. Pinterest is a great avenue for purchase.

I didn’t know of Cosmoprof until this assignment. One thing I do know? I would have to take an empty suitcase just for the trip home from this trade show!  I bet the freebies are outstanding!

Cosmoprof North America has wisely entered the social arena.  Beauty is skin deep though so the saying goes.  In today’s sophisticated world however, brands have to go beyond the surface. Cosmoprof North America is on its way.  A touch more foundation, a dusting of detail topped off by a brush stroke more focus and 2015 could be the year Cosmoprof NA masters it.

Just For Fun

Ok, so I am not really the celebrity crush kind of person. When I was younger though, I had 2 big ones: River Phoenix and George Michael. What can I say? I have interesting taste. In this week’s just for fun I give you an anthem of my teenage years. I’ll let you figure out what it has to do with this week’s post.

I love that it’s about blowing up images and breaking stereotypes. The irony, of course, being that every major super model of the time is showcased here. Ladies & Gentlemen, Mr. George Michael:

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