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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

 

“All Five Horizons Revolved Around Her Soul, Like the Earth to the Sun”

I’m a Pearl Jam Fan. I mean a cross-country, international traveling, tattoo-wearing, every album-owning fan. We call ourselves the Jamily. It’s a passion I share with my younger brother.

My fave jam is Black. It’s always resonated with me primarily for the above lyric (blog entry title). I love the idea of horizons…seeing them, reaching for them, going beyond one to find another. It’s a mantra I believe in. It’s a concept I always turn to no matter what I am doing. I often use some form of the word Horizons in my usernames or something creative I am working on. In some ways, it is slowly becoming my brand title: KFG Horizons.

So that brings us to this week’s assignment:

For Intro to Multimedia Communications, we are to create the copy for an email blast promoting who we are as a brand, complete with links, YouTube videos and a content community. Since this is out on the world-wide web I include this disclaimer. I am a work in progress. I’ve been fortunate enough to tell amazing stories, produce content of all kinds and broadcast the news events of your lives from the hot seat of several network control rooms. I am pursuing my masters in social media because I am a journalist at heart and believe good stories need to be told. It’s 2014 though. You won’t find much news ink on thumbs each morning. How we deliver the story evolves every moment. I want to be a journalism evolutionist. (Aim high right?) That’s why I am a student: to keep telling good stories in whatever way you want to read/touch/watch/slide/pin/like/post/tweet/Instagram/YouTube them!)

 

EMAIL BLAST ASSIGNMENT:

Hi.

If you are reading this, chances are we may have something in common.  You believe there are many people telling stories but very few storytellers. If you are like me, you believe in good journalism AND you don’t believe social media is the death of it.  It’s a tall order to combine them but that’s where I come in. I’m a storyteller who believes in the Greater Fool. A Greater what, you say…?

Pretty cool right? Oh and if you want to know who the girl in the newsroom is, hang tight, I’ll get to that. The point is I want to work alongside other aspiring Greater Fools. I believe in the Fourth Estate but I also believe in Twitter and anything else that connects.

SO WHO AM I…

Save the flowery sell – just give you the resume?

My LinkedIn Profile

My LinkedIn Profile

I’m not a rookie. I have produced with the best in local, national and international newsrooms.    You want more flavor?  My fast ball paid for my college degree so I know what it means to  compete at elite levels. I have jumped out of a plane at 10,000 feet and lived so I can be fearless  when needed. I dove the Great Barrier Reef so I like adventure. I shook hands with a Pope  and a President (not at the same time) so I have manners and know how to respect. If you  want the professional rundown, just click on my LinkedIn profile to the left.

____________________________________________________________

Oh…you’re more the right brain, creative type? (Yea, me too.)

Pinterested? Click Me.

 

Read No More.

Check out my Pinterview

 

 

 

 

_____________________________________________________________

So you may be saying, “That’s nice Kelly, but I need more…”

Ok, ok…I pride myself on being a great writer but a good writer knows when to let someone else wax poetic:

I guess you could say there is a little Lloyd Dobbler in me. I want to be authentic in a one-click, info-in-an-instant, twitter-me-this world.

Everyone’s an Expert…So Why Me?

Because I believe we can be innovative, engaging, interactive, relevant AND responsible in a new media world — without being stupid:

No question, Journalism must be experiential. We have to embrace our audience without losing our audience. That means interacting but to Jeff Daniels’ point, being smart about it. I don’t think you have to “dumb it down” to be a social media journalist. In fact, I think you have to be even smarter, more witty and more aware. I’ve been telling Emmy-nominated, Peabody-winning, captivating stories for over a decade. That’s one-of-a-kind experience, combined with an education-backed social media prowess at your fingertips. It is about the story I can tell you today that captures the audience of tomorrow.

Are you read to expand your horizons?

Let’s go be Greater Fools!

Kelly Frank Green

twitterfbG+PininstayoutubeLinkedinbut 

 

(Oh…and I mentioned we’d get back to the girl … the Greater Fool Speech?  Here you go…just for fun & thanks for reading)

horizonheader

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:

bloghomepage

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!)

blogpageexample

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:

fitstyle

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).

 

 

Keeping “Power to the She” Consistent

There is no question that 2013 was a breakout year for Athleta. So much so that the Chairman and CEO of parent company Gap Inc. recently said, “…It looks like Athleta is on its path to becoming the fourth iconic brand within Gap Inc.’s portfolio.” (Jeff Quackenbush) The three other brands he’s referring to are Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic. I have worn all these brands during various periods of my life but Athleta is where I have found my second skin these days.

When it comes to maintaining its brand in an integrated world, Athleta does an excellent job. As you can see on its main company site and across key social channels, it maintains the same logo, imagery and title fonts.   It’s aesthetically cohesive and consistent. Occasionally, there will be a different image on one channel over another as you see below with Google+ but the subject is always the same: A strong, fit and active woman.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On each page you will find a simple two sentence mission statement, something very key to success as outlined in this week’s reading Branding Your Website.

 “The premier fitness fashion brand for women who see being healthy and fit as vital to life. Power to the She.”

Athleta’s website features social buttons connecting its consumer to some of its social channels including a button drawing attention to its mobile site:

Additionally, the mobile site is very user friendly. I have placed orders with ease on both my iPad and my Android phone. Having a sleek, clean mobile site that is consistent with the brand is key. It’s an understatement to say mobile is the future:

“Although most online purchases still occur via PCs, Digiday believes commerce will be among the industries most affected by the rise of mobile. Global e-commerce sales made via mobile devices are expected to top $638 billion in 2018, according to a forecast from Goldman Sachs. For perspective, that was roughly the entire size of the world’s e-commerce market in 2013. Goldman predicts that tablet, not smartphones, will be the primary drivers of mobile commerce growth. (Cooper Smith)

(You can read Digiday’s entire Mobile Forecast Report HERE)

Push & Pull:

Athleta combines push and pull marketing in many ways. On their company site, a consumer gets “pulled” with an option to receive emails and/or the catalog. Those emails and catalogs are then “pushed” out and might include upcoming sales, events in your city or just a product highlight. Below is an example of one I received recently that is both sale and product highlight:

Athleta also utilizes traditional push marketing such as billboards and advertising kiosks in malls:

When I recently visited my local Athleta store I saw this in the window ~ a little push marketing with a local social media twist:

Athleta leverages all their social channels as brand enforcers ~ not a one-stop shop.  Athleta wisely houses all ability to purchase online on its company website only. It uses its social channels as a pull strategy by showcasing the brand message and linking to the main company site. It’s most effective pull strategy in my opinion is its blog: Athleta Chi

The blog is a forum for women to discuss fitness, sports, wellness, travel, exchange recipes, view demo videos, learn, bond and share empowering, inspirational stories. Athleta wisely incorporates a “Fit Style” category which will take you to their product lines but it’s not shoved down your throat. You can also respond to the push marketing technique of opting in to receive a pull via “Chi-mail” (above right).

Marketing & Branding through Events:

Athleta has several partnerships, some they showcase right on their homepage including the Mudderella and Esprit De She. These events along with Athleta’s participation at expos for various 5ks and other races are another form of pull marketing. Women who participate in these events are exposed to Athleta in a supportive role. They get an opportunity to see the brand at work out in the community.

Recommendations:

The Athleta website is clean, beautifully laid out and reflective of their brand. Athleta’s relationship with Lifetime for Esprit De She & Mudderella are partnerships with like-minded brands of strength, empowerment, health and well-being. In creating partnerships with like-minded companies, Athleta stays true to its “Power to the She” brand message. In further analyzing their integrated marketing and brand, I have a few recommendations where Athleta could be a bit more consistent and drive consumers back to their main website.

  • Athleta is on more social channels than they link to on their company website. The social media consumer is widespread and consumers are loyal to different channels. There is an opportunity to measure click-through and see what social channels Athleta consumers are interested in. A recent loyalty social survey revealed “These channels are powerful and should not be ignored. Gather intelligence from these channels and aggressively seek opportunities to influence the conversation.” (Jim Tierney) Additionally we already know that having your brand on Google+ increases your chances of showing up in Google search results – so why not flaunt your Google-ness? (Kristin Curtiss)  I recommend adding icons for You Tube and Google+. Loyal customers make loyal and knowledgeable employees. I would add a LinkedIn button as well. Then, I recommend making buttons consistent across the blog, company website and social channels that allow other social buttons. For example, on Athleta’s You Tube page (click below) there is a Google+ button but You Tube allows Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blog buttons as well.

YouTube:

  • On Athleta’s main website, I also recommend moving the location of the social/sharing buttons “above the fold” similar to what Athleta does on its blog. As you can see below, on the main company site the social buttons are buried at the bottom of the page. This may be strategic with the thought being not to leave the main company site, however, the company wisely has purchasing ability housed on the main site. Sending potential customers to their social channels will only increase brand awareness and potentially strengthen a consumer connection. It’s a worthy gamble.

“BELOW THE FOLD” (on the main site)                 “ABOVE THE FOLD” (on the blog site)

  • As discussed above, Athleta has a beautiful and informative blog for women empowerment and community.  Interestingly though, Athleta does not link to their blog on their Pinterest page in any prominent way (see below)

Pinterest:

We know that Pinterest is dominated by women. 94% of all activity on Pinterest is by women. (Craig Smith) This is a missed opportunity to expose women to a brand- defining blog. Additionally, the blog is not featured on their Twitter page either. I would add prominent links on both these channels above the fold.

  • Another recommendation I would make for consistency would be adding the main website www.athleta.com to the top of its Facebook and Instagram pages. It is on the Facebook page, but you have to click the “About” link in order to access the company site. On Instagram, the only link featured prominently takes you to the Athleta Chi blog (see below). I think promoting the blog is great but I would advocate prominent links to both the main website AND the Athleta Chi blog.

Instagram:

  • While Athleta has a beautiful mobile site, at this time they don’t have an option to receive text message alerts about new stores opening, sales or other events. I recommend creating this option for consumers. It allows the company to target a customer who is clearly interested.
  • Athleta should consider a Twitter and Pinterest Widget on its website.
  • Finally, IthinkAthleta can offer a more integrated brick and mortar experience. I recently made a purchase and noticed there is no social media imagery in the store promoting their channels. When I paid for my purchase, the sales team did not ask for my email to send me my receipt (and then have my email on file!). My purchase was packaged in an awesome reusable, recycled bag but there was no website signage on the bag at all.  Lastly, I noted on my receipt at the very bottom there was a line about “Liking on Facebook” but that required a purchase to even reach that touch point. The below gallery is a visual of my experience:

Overall Thoughts:

Athleta could be a little more consistent in their social media integration, blog promotion and driving back to their main site for purchasing. That said, the company does a great job of keeping its brand message consistent on all its channels. They are all about creating a strong, empowered community for women and it is reflected in word and image beautifully throughout their pages. Each channel lives up to giving “Power to the She”.

Sources:

Jeff Quackenbush. (February 28, 2014). Gap calls 2013 ‘breakout year for Athleta’. Retrieved June 7, 2014, http://www.northbaybusinessjournal.com/88434/gap-calls-2013-breakout-year-for-athleta/

Cooper Smith. (April 2, 2014). US E-Commerce Growth is Now Far Outpacing Overall Retail Sales. Retrieved June 7, 2014, http://www.businessinsider.com/us-e-commerce-growth-is-now-far-outpacing-overall-retail-sales-2014-4

Jim Tierney. (May 9, 2014). Social Intelligence: An Opportunity for Loyalty Marketers. Retrieved June 7, 2014, http://loyalty360.org/resources/article/social-intelligence-an-opportunity-for-loyalty-marketers

Kristin Curtiss. (February 6, 2014). Google Plus: Your New SEO Valentine. Retrieved June 7, 2014, http://blogs.constantcontact.com/product-blogs/social-media-marketing/google-plus-seo/

Craig Smith. (March 4, 2014). By the Numbers: 80 Amazing Pinterest Statistics (Updated June 2014). Retrieved June 7, 2014, http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/pinterest-stats/#.U5S5H_ldWnY

 

Power to the She…& Me

I’ve been on quite a journey the last two years:  A scary, amazing, life-altering journey. I became a mom. Twice.

To understand my journey, you would have to know I was an athlete all my life. My right arm paid for my degree. I could throw a pretty fast curve ball back in the day! I grew up in a competitive, fitness-oriented family. My older brother went to Ohio State on a football scholarship, my younger brother was a collegiate baseball player, my sister played tennis and ran track and my father made a business of training NFL, NBA and MLB players.

I’ve been pretty lucky. I’m one of those people who has enjoyed success…on the field, in the classroom, in the newsroom and at home. Don’t get me wrong. I worked my butt off for it! It wasn’t handed to me but with that success comes an expectation that you are always going to be at the top of your game.

So what does this have to do with this week’s assignment? Everything.

Like many moms, I gained weight. 60 pounds to be exact. I also quit my job in week 8 of my maternity leave. I could not fathom leaving my child and felt broadcast journalism was changing. It all seemed irrelevant. So I threw myself into motherhood…and then 9 months later was pregnant again.

This time was different. About 4 months after my first child Gracen was born, I was suffering a bit of an identity crisis. I had always been an accomplished television producer, making my own money, doing my own thing and now I wasn’t. I felt small. I felt worthless. I was a little lost. I needed a reset.

A friend and cancer survivor who had found peace in yoga introduced me to her teacher.  On a cold December day, I signed up for a private lesson and life was never the same.

When you are feeling like I was and looking like I thought I looked, it takes everything you have to feel comfortable in your own skin. Enter Athleta.

Athleta came to be in 1998 as a catalog company specializing in yoga clothing. Gap Inc. acquired them in 2008 and they evolved into athletic wear, every day clothes, swimwear and accessories adding online sales and brick and mortar stores to their successful catalog business. (GapInc.com & Bloomberg.com)

Athleta is more than a business though. They are a modern brand as defined in What is BRANDING? published by the Norwich Business School.  As you see in that clip, brands of today are finding information, sharing films, selling stuff, making friends and adding to knowledge.  Athleta accomplishes all of this utilizing the channels below and integrating a consistent, solid and straightforward brand message: Power to the She

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ You Tube

Google+ ~ Athleta Chi (Blog) ~ Athleta Website ~ Catalog ~ Email

With Power to the She, Athleta celebrates the busy lives women lead and how they make fitness a priority. They promise to put performance first and comfort a close second. (Maddy Lucier) I would add that “Power to the She” extends beyond making fitness a priority – it makes well being and empowerment a priority as reinforced by this video on the company’s You Tube channel:

Guarantee

At its basic core, Athleta is a business with a product that it guarantees.

I know this to be 100% true. I had a short sleeve sweatshirt I just loved but after about 5 times wearing it, there were very discernible  arm  pit stains. Yuck! This was not typical of Athleta’s clothing so I returned it. No questions asked. Brands guarantee quality.

According to the Norwich Business School, Brands also instill values that lead to action. If you go to the parent company website at  Gap Inc. you will read the following about Athleta:

At Athleta, we design the ultimate performance apparel and gear for every active woman, from the weekend warrior to the committed yogini to the fiercely driven competitive athlete. And as women athletes, we road-test, court-test and water-test everything ourselves to be sure each item we offer features the perfect balance: performance and style

Another key aspect of a successful brand is Ownership.  Athleta lives this in the people who design and create the product. The corporate leadership of Athleta seeks to understand their customer by looking within. They take this introspection and make it a call to action:

Athleta exemplifies communications planning as we read about in Brand Media Strategy this week because their message is clear and uniform across all their platforms.

They engage and reward:

They engage and educate:

And what you see on Twitter…is what you see on Facebook…is what you see on Pinterest…is what you see on Instagram…is what you see on You Tube…is what you see on Google+ …is what you see on the company’s website. Each campaign and message lives on each platform:

Our journey this week also told us that Brand is Confidence. Brand is Passion. Brand is Belonging. Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman once said, “when people use your brand as a verb, that is remarkable”. (brainyquote.com). I would add that when people forget your Brand is trying to sell them something, that is remarkable as well. Athleta does just this by creating a forum for confidence, passion and a sense of belonging. They call it Athleta Chi. It’s a blog devoted to “connecting women to the energy of inspiration.” You can opt to receive inspirational emails as well. The blog features recipes, how-tos, travel information, training videos, health guidance and a forum for people like you and me to chat, engage and belong.

So what about that post-partum, overweight, insecure, somewhat lost new mom? 

I’m getting to that.

The most important thing I consider in a “brand” is me. After all as our class this week reinforced “You” make a brand. “You” unmake a brand.  Yoga is intimidating as hell. I always avoided it because it seemed clique-ish. It was for skinny girls that could put their heads in places I never wanted to go.  Heck, I couldn’t even touch the ground when I started without hearing something shred inside me.  As silly as it sounds, Athleta made it easier to start. I found a comfortable skin.

After I tried Athleta clothes for my yoga practice, I stayed with it because I found the “experience” of Athleta resonated. The women weren’t stick figures with untouchable goals and unrealistic representations. They were real. They were like me:  Normal, Unique, Curvy, Curvy-er in some areas more than others.  In the social community on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, I found women of all design…including me:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I now own Athleta clothes of all kinds including the bathing suit below. (I really should own stock in the company!)  The catalog arrives and it’s like Christmas. I get an email for a sale and I can’t resist. Yes, I am their target customer…and I am a brand loyalist.

It’s more though. I turn the pages and I see where I have been, where I am and where I want to be. I’ve lost 57 pounds. I can bend over and touch the floor with flat palms.  I stand a little taller.  I smile more. I breathe deeper. It’s not about the clothes…it’s about the community.  It’s Power to the She…and Me.

Yogaonabeach

Sources:

http://www.gapinc.com/content/gapinc/html/aboutus/ourbrands/Athleta.html

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-17/gap-s-athleta-stalks-lululemon-one-yoga-store-at-a-time.html

http://www.stack.com/2012/01/12/athleta-power-to-the-she-campaign/

Maddy Lucier. (January 12, 2012) Athleta’s Power to the She Campaign Celebrates Female Athletes. Retrieved June 1, 2014, http://www.stack.com/2012/01/12/athleta-power-to-the-she-campaign/

Antony Young. (2010). A Shift From Media Planning to Communications Planning. Brand Media Strategy: Integrated Communications Planning in the Digital Era. New York: Palgrave Macmillan

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/meg_whitman.html

 

Classic Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing

I’ll come out of the closet and admit it. I’m a Neil Diamond fan. To be a fan, you must have seen The Jazz Singer. Now, I’m not here to discuss the merits or flaws of this movie but want to bring up one line that has always resonated with me. The young Neil is chatting with his father about his personal pop music desires vs. the strong familial pull to be a 3rd generation cantor in the synagogue. His father tells him, “If you don’t know where you come from, how do you know where you are going?” In short, respect the history while embarking on the future. This aptly applies to the current state of marketing when discussing classic vs. social. For the purpose of this post, I will be focusing on the last two circles below: Language & People Involved

ClassicMarketing_SocialMediaMarketing

 Language:

When it comes to language, the journalist in me believes the classic and the social are best integrated together. I’ve spent years running media produced by my teams through a gamut of editors, lawyers and standards and practices experts. I think the classic marketing language is for the most part more legally safe and not open to much interpretation. The classic marketer creates their message, delivers it and you receive it. What social media can take from classic language is a vigilant need to be legally sound especially considering the platform is VERY public with a wide reach.

Overall however,  the genuine, direct and at times, casual language of social media is more effective at connecting on a personal level. Antony Young tells us in Brand Media Strategy that people crave an authentic and organic experience.  The language of social media is more personal and directed at YOU…not a mass audience.  This short, personal and raw language is better suited to the main social media platforms. Twitter confines the user to a 140 characters. Vine is a 6 second production. Instagram is a 15 second production if you opt for video. Facebook allows more room for posts but brevity seems to work best.

There is also a larger latitude for language informality under the mass balloon of social media. The greatest example that comes to mind is the infamous “Poop Tweet” about Mercedes-Benz’s Smart Car.

smart_poop_tweet

 

It has to be written that the decision to respond and the content of the response is pure genius. There is a brilliance and wit to this exchange that catapulted it into viral greatness. As Bob Lord wrote in his June 12, 2013 Management Blog for Business Week, “…everyone from Buzzfeed to Mashable picked up the story. It even hit the top spot twice on Reddit in a 24-hour span.” I would add that the very basic language of “poop” also played a part in that. There is a shock value to seeing the word “crap” in media from a respected company. The popular topic of toddlers is typically taboo in a classic marketing campaign but Mercedes-Benz ran with it. According to motion designer and director Steven Tapia, the car company even tapped him for this provocative viral video. A brief warning for my readers, there is profanity in this video but it only further illustrates my point about language tolerance: The Poop Tweet Case Study.

As discussed in this week’s course materials, the world is changing  has changed!

 People Involved:

When looking at classic marketing vs. social media marketing, I am a big fan of how involved everyone tied to the brand must be in a social media environment. Let’s face it, in this day and age, if you work for a company and have any kind of social profile, you represent that company, that brand. There is a great responsibility that comes with this but for the sake of this discussion, I am assuming that companies have hired professional, responsible adults. Having a stake in the message of your company fosters a deeper loyalty, a sense of pride and a greater stake in ownership of your professional brand. It also creates a vigilance among employees around the clock in keeping that social message on target. One great example is the Oreo Super Bowl Tweet. The power went out in the Super Dome in the second half of Super Bowl XLVII. Oreo tweeted this:

oreo

It turns out, according to Wired, Oreo had 15 people logged in and ready to go. The Super Bowl is such a multi-screen experience that the company had the foresight to have a team ready to interact. When the lights went out, it gave their social media minds a unique opportunity to engage with a huge audience that was already talking. This real-time response was smart, calculated and resulted in some great buzz for a really good cookie. It took more than just a “classic” marketing team of people to make this happen. The social team, the user and every Oreo employee involved scored big time with this play.

For all the engagement, personalization and reach of social media, it would not be what it is without some of the basics of classic marketing. You have to have a strong brand and a strong message. The mode by which that message travels has certainly changed but not without integrating the tools of the past. In short, Social Media knows where it came from…which is why it knows exactly where it’s going.