Brands who utilize Instagram exceptionally well


As Instagram continues to become one of the most popular social media platforms, it allows brands to make a statement and stand out from the competition. Instagram is perfect for brands who want to express their content through photos. Photos, in my opinion, are much more engaging and offer a wow factor that typed out messages could never offer. So, which brands are doing exceptionally well through Instragram?

Starbucks: as one of the most popular coffee chains in the country, Starbucks enjoys great success through their IG account. Starbucks relies heavily on how appealing their drinks look, thus making IG the perfect place to show off their creative creations. While I am not a coffee fan, I do realize that appeal means everything when dealing with food and drinks and Starbucks hits the nail on the head by making their coffee seem irresistible. Holiday themed drinks are even more appealing as they flash bright colors and new flavors.

National Geographic: as a NatGeo follower myself, I can honestly say that this is one of my favorite accounts  that I follow. NatGeo continues to push the envelope by adventuring into some of the most dangerous yet beautiful places on earth. Every photo opens up my imagination and makes me wonder what it would be like to visit such beautiful places. Following this account definitely gives me a better appreciation for nature and the world around me. Not to mention they currently have more than 9 million followers!

GoPro: another fascinating account, GoPro is the more adventurous and daring NatGeo. GoPro is a company designed with the extreme sports consumer in mind. With highly durable and portable cameras, GoPro allows extreme athletes to take photos and videos from virtually anywhere. Like NatGeo, the high quality of the photos and the sheer excitement of those photos draws in millions of followers. Photos from users are posted daily and GoPro uses people who have purchased their product to pretty much be the face of their account. That is why GoPro does so well, because they are highly relatable!

Timberland: when discussing boots, Timberland is one of the top brands that comes to most people’s minds. With highly durable and fashionable boots, Timberland garners a lot of success. Many of their photos are high quality and contain picturesque settings that appeal to consumers. Many of Timberland’s photos contain people wearing the boots, thus allowing people to see what they look like with different outfits and styles.

The Ellen show: with around 7.5 million followers, the Ellen show has a huge presence on Instagram. Ellen appeals to a wide audience because of the warmheartedness and funny aspect of the show. The posts are relevant to the show and they offer a more personal side to the show because of the various selfies and fan photos. One thing is certain: Ellen’s instagram account will always put a smile on your face.

While there are many other accounts who do well on Instagram, these accounts do an exceptional job at posting relevant and inviting content. They also post high quality images and videos that appeal to their target customers. Brands need to embody these accounts and learn how to best use Instagram to attract even more buyers!


The consumers digital IQ grows


Have you ever been browsing a website when all of the sudden a message pops up that asks if you would like to take a quick survey? I’m sure at some point almost every person who has used the web for several years has been accustomed to this sort of marketing. Brands are trying to get valuable feedback from customers by asking them to comment on service related questions or things that can give the user a better experience. But when was the last time you got anything out of this sort of message? Usually it is one sided where the brand benefits and leaves nothing in return for you. Because of this, less and less internet users are now taking these “helpful” surveys.

3radical took a deeper look into this dilemma, polling around 600 UK consumers and finding that 87% of the consumers were looking for a reward before reading or responding to a brands message! From experience, I can honestly say that I also look for a reward before participating in a survey like this. Rarely have I ever stumbled upon a survey that offered me an immediate reward or benefit. Bestbuy is the only company I can think of where it said I would be entered into a raffle to possibly win a prize if I were to participate. But is getting entered into a raffle really worth a 15-20 minute survey? Why not give me a coupon for 10% off or give me an exclusive deal for taking the survey? Customers want something for something, that is how most of us humans work.

With this new found customer IQ, brands must rethink their strategy when it comes to effectively getting responses and feedback from customers. After all, customer feedback is huge for any brand: it lets the customer give an unbiased opinion on what they liked or didn’t like about a product or service. David Eldridge, CEO of 3radical says, “Our research shows that consumers are giving brands a clear message about what they want; nowadays, they are looking for a true value exchange between the business and the customer. It needs to be mobile and it must be contextually relevant to them.” Another recent survey has shown that around 45% of consumers admitted they were less likely to buy from and engage with a brand if the information was not relevant and did not peak their interest. Brands must take note of this fact! People want messages to be tailored to their personal interests and hobbies. While this engagement can be difficult to achieve, the rewards can be immense if a company can gain an advantage over a competitor.

It is clear that brands can no longer simply take advantage of consumers through online surveys and messages. With more and more teens and young adults becoming accustomed to the internet, we are becoming a smarter social generation. People want real connection and want to feel as if they are benefiting from helping a brand, even if it is their favorite brand. So, the next time you see a brand ask for your involvement, stop and ask if you are truly benefiting from it or else you may be wasting your time.



Benefits of Social Media for students

social media

Have you ever thought about how important social media can truly be to you as a student? Social media has not been around very long, but it has made a profound impact on high school and college students by helping them stay connected to their friends and family. Although social media can sometimes be seen in the negative light when it is used for malicious and unfriendly purposes, the positives vastly outweigh the negatives if used correctly! Being a college student myself, I can truly say that I have benefited from the use of social media accounts. Let’s take a look at some of the positives when social media is used for the right purposes.

Connections: as I mentioned before, social media allows college students to stay in contact with friends and relatives no matter how far away they are. While I do not live far from home when on campus, I know many friends who do and they rely heavily on social media to keep up with friends back home or relatives as well. My aunt loves to post pictures and comment on photos of mine through Facebook. I usually only see her 3-4 times per year, so Facebook allows me to keep in touch and make it seem as if I see her more often than I do.

Web engagement: social has allowed students to engage with their peers and most of all their teachers and professors. It also allows students to search information that may be relevant to a class or subject that interests them. We as users are able to post almost anything, which can produce immense creativity and innovation. My Instagram account keeps me engaged because some of the clothing companies or Christian artists I follow post special offers or leak information that otherwise I never would have found out about unless I searched the internet for it.

Knowledge: perhaps one of the biggest benefits, social media has made it so much easier for anyone to access new information and learn about new and creative ideas. Again, with my Instagram account I follow National Geographic and some other History accounts, each of which throws out information that I never knew about before until I saw one of their posts. Helpful information for classes can also be found on sites like YouTube where thousands of people have made tips and tricks videos for high school and college students.

Social media marketing: with the advent of social media there has been a huge increase in the number of jobs openings related to digital marketing. Prospective employers now realize just how important social media can be for a campaign and they continue to hire young graduates who have a well rounded knowledge of social media. Taking a digital marketing class can offer huge benefits to students who some day wish to pursue a career in the field of social media.

Social media has completely redefined the way students around the world interact and benefit from its use. From casual social sites like YouTube to more professional sites like LinkedIn, students are gaining knowledge in ways they never could before. Just ask your parents if they remember using social media to help them study for a test or find helpful tips for college: the answer is most definitely going to be no. So, we need to embrace social media and keep finding ways to improve our capability and speed at which we learn!



Digital revolutionizes sports

sports and digital

Has it ever occurred to you just how many professional organizations have a digital presence in the 21st century? With the explosion of digital marketing and social media within recent years, sports teams are no longer relying on old ways to promote their organizations to the public. That’s right, they too have gone digital!

As an avid Instagram user, I cannot help but notice the overwhelming number of sports teams I found while simply searching their team name into the search bar. After some research and searching on Instagram, it seems as if every single NFL team has an Instagram account that is updated frequently. These accounts are great for fans because the organizations post relevant pictures and updates on their players and news surrounding the team. Essentially, it makes the fan feel as if they are part of the team by being able to track players and hear the latest news about the ogranization. The accounts also post schedules, scores, and other relevant information for fans. Like Instagram, Facebook is another way sports teams are using social media to increase awareness and build a relationship with fans. But Instagram and Facebook aren’t the only way sports teams are using digital: they are also encompassing blogging, Search Engine Optimization, Pay Per Click, content marketing, and even mobile applications.

In today’s digital age, virtually anyone can create and maintain an informative blog that engages users and makes them want to come back for more helpful information. Blogs cover almost any topic imaginable: cooking, DIY work, health and fitness, travel, video games, sports, etc. Focusing on sports, various teams and clubs have used blogging to show the human side of  the sport and show the hard work that comes with it. Arsenal FC, a professional soccer organization, utilized a blogger outreach program to help generate positive publicity among their online community. The program worked with great success, showing other organizations that blogging can be an effective tool to build awareness for fans.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), is perhaps one of the most important aspects of digital marketing today. SEO is what helps any website rank high in the search engine results page, thus allowing people to see their website first. If a sports team, coach, or nutritionist is not ranked highly on the SERP, it can be extremely difficult to get traffic to the site, making for a less effective campaign. However, if used well, SEO can be a powerful tool for any organization looking to become or remain a digital powerhouse.

Pay Per click advertising has become huge online, allowing companies to generate more traffic to their website through promoted ads. Essentially, they pay to have an ad show up on the side of the SERP so that users don’t necessarily have to search directly for their team. This is great for sports teams looking to increase revenue through ticket sales, merchandise, or services offered to the fans.

Content marketing is basically creating valuable and relevant content to attract a specified target audience. Content marketing is great because it not only builds awareness, it also creates additional links to your website, thus increasing traffic. Most of all, content marketing is a way to keep your fans and users engaged and interested so that they keep coming back for more.

With the advent of the app store a few years ago, mobile applications have exploded onto the scene. Companies and teams continue to push out apps that are relevant and engaging to the user. Apps can now allow fans from all across the world to stay in touch with their favorite team, no matter where they live. Apps can include highlights of the game, interviews with players, images, and even wallpapers. Furthermore, most of these apps are free for users, requiring no investment, so if  you are unhappy you can simply delete the app.

Digital continues to show how versatile it can truly be! It continues to allow companies and organizations to do things that were never possible before smartphones and the internet. Digital has increased profits and continues to build brand awareness for companies all across the world. It is clear that if a sports team wants to be as effective as possible, it must have a digital presence in the 21st century!


Digital ad spending to surpass TV!

ad spending

Has digital come so far that it will soon surpass TV ad spending in the coming years? I had never thought about just how immense digital advertising was becoming until the other day when a guest speaker presented in my digital marketing class. He made the point that digital was going to surpass TV ad spending by 2019! After hearing what he had to say, I wanted to find out more about ad spending and see how the numbers looked for myself. The numbers that I came across made it clear to me that digital marketing continues to explode and offers completely new opportunities for young graduates who wish to pursue some career in marketing.

After searching numerous articles, there was no universal date that digital was projected to overtake TV. Some articles projected 2016, while others projected 2017-2019. While the numbers on ad spending may vary at this point, all of these dates reveal the fact that digital will overtake TV in just a few short years! According to an article on Adage, U.S. advertisers spending on digital marketing should overtake TV in 2016 and reach around $103 billion in 2019, representing 36% of all ad spending. It is clear that TV ad spending is nearing the end of its reign. According to the Wall Street Journal, Comcast saw a 4.6% decline in ad revenue across its cable networks last month, Time Warner reported flat domestic revenue a few days ago, and Discovery Communications revenue only increased by a measly 1%. With TV being one of the most expensive forms of advertising, many companies are shifting towards digital to return a profit.

Another noteworthy statistic has shown that marketers spent 6% less, or about $577 million on making upfront deals with cable TV networks. So why is this trend continuing to occur? One reason might be because of the fact that consumers are now spending more time on their desktops, tablets, and smartphones instead of watching TV. I can personally vouch for this when I am at college because of the fact that cable is not free for students in the dorms. As a result, I find myself always on my laptop and finding things to watch on my computer instead of going out of my way to watch something on live TV. Furthermore, media proliferation means that there is more ads to buy and that a recovering economy stimulates confidence in technology. These ads also use much more sophisticated targeting techniques unlike television. There is no hassle to go through with scheduling, so marketers can run the most effective campaign to reach their target audience.

Marketers are continuing to focus on digital ad spending as it offers unique opportunities that television simply cannot offer! Not to mention that it is cheaper and much more targeted than TV. While it may not be clear as to when digital will take over TV, one thing is certain: digital will soon take down the giant that has reigned for over 60 years.



Twitter drives car sales

twitter car sales

Can social media actually influence people to buy cars? I have always wondered if it was possible for a social media platform to drive someone to actually purchase a car. As an avid Instagram user, I can say that I follow a few car companies like Mercedes-Benz and Audi. I have a genuine interest in their cars and by following them on Instagram I can see new models, features, and other relevant information about their cars. While I may never have the money to purchase one of their cars, a wealthy man or woman who does may actually become influenced into purchasing one of their cars solely based on the automakers social media efforts to promote their cars. This is even truer due to a recent study that has shown that Twitter marketing has driven $716 million in car sales!

The study was conducted by a company called MarketShare, a marketing analytics company that has partnerships with global brands like Twitter. MarketShare measured the direct and indirect effects that Twitter had on auto sales for around 20 volume midsize and luxury compact cars that made up for 34% of annual U.S. sales in 2013. The study concluded that Twitter drove this immense amount of sales through positive brand mentions, Twitter ads, and the Twitter activity of the automakers themselves. So how often are these companies relaying the message about their cars? It is estimated that automakers push out over 65,000 daily tweets about purchasing or researching a new car. The beauty of this effort is that only people who want to follow these companies choose to follow them or not follow them. So, automakers can push out relevant content to people who are actually interested in buying one of their cars. Audi showed a great example of this when they teamed with the show “Pretty Little Liars” to help the launch of their low priced A3 model. Audi used various efforts like running ads between commercials and then giving followers clues to what would happen in the next episode of the show. The effort drew hundreds of thousands of interested followers into participating and resulted in 487 million social impressions on Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook! This campaign shows how immense an online presence can be in digital age of marketing.

Acura was another company who embraced Twitter to attract new customers. Acura was the first auto brand to use an in-tweet configuration tool for a vehicle. The tool allowed followers to build their own TLX sedan within a tweet. The brilliant marketing effort by Acura led to extremely high engagement and sharing output. This effort was so successful that Acura plans to use it again and many other companies will most likely adopt the same strategy in the near future.

The new rules of marketing are clearly evident in the fact that companies are utilizing various social media platforms to drive sales. None of these campaigns were ever possible before social media. Companies are becoming ever more creative as they shape and re-shape their strategies to effectively reach their target audience through digital campaigns.



Spotify Grows, Pandora Slows

spotify vs pandora

Do you have a Spotify or Pandora account to listen to music? As a college student, I can safely say that almost every single one of my friends on campus and at home also has a Spotify or Pandora account. In my case, I have both. I stumbled upon Pandora around my junior year of High School when I saw it allowed me to make stations and base my music off of those genres. However, I couldn’t truly listen to the music I wanted to because Pandora didn’t allow me to pick and choose my songs freely. I was introduced to Spotify during my freshman semester at college when my roommate told me it allows you to pick and choose the songs you want and put them into a playlist. At last, a truly free music site that allowed me to pick my own music! While I do not have the paid version, Spotify still allows me to pick the songs and put them in a playlist, so no matter what song comes on it is a song that I chose myself. In reading some articles, it has come to my attention that Pandora has started to slow down, while Spotify seems to be hitting its stride. Let’s take a look at some numbers and see how each of these companies has been doing in the digital age.

Driven by mobile usage, the number of paid Spotify subscribers has grown to over 10 million globally. According to sources, Spotify has grown to more than 3 million paid subscribers in less than three years since the launch in the U.S. in July 2011. Spotify also currently has 40 million monthly active users (which includes the 10 million paid subscribers). This data shows that Spotify is currently the biggest and most likely the fastest growing of similar music services like Rhapsody and Beats Music. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said, “We’ve really become a mobile first company.” Ek’s comment shows true due to the fact that 80% of all subscribers sign up through mobile phones. On top of this data, U.S. paid subscription revenues rose 57% to $628 million last year. While Spotify has a relative new growth, it seems to be fairing much better than Pandora.

In its latest earnings report, Pandora media’s growth slowed to 5.2% in the third quarter. One problem may be due to their lack of focus on the user. It is apparent in a statement made by CFO Mike Herring. He said, “We needed to get monetization in place before looking to grow listeners. We’re relatively new to this marketing, customer-acquisition world, and we do have ambitions to grow user significantly in the U.S.” While they want to grow users, they cannot focus on them until they have monetization down, which it is apparent that they currently do not. On top of this, Pandora shares are down 13% during 2014. While Pandora is still doing well in terms of profit and listeners, it is apparent that something must change before it is too late and they become “out of style.”

There is no doubt that Spotify and Pandora are currently two of the most widely used mobile music platforms on the market today. Spotify offers users the ability to select their own songs and listen to the music they want to. While Spotify has a monthly fee of $10 compared to Pandora’s $4.99, it is clear that people are willing to pay a little extra for ad free listening that also allows them to pick and choose the exact songs they want to listen to, when they want to listen to them. From personal experience, I can honestly say that I use Spotify on a much more regular basis than Pandora. So what site do you find more appealing and why?



Video marketing: 5 technology brands who do it right!

video marketing

Have you ever wondered which technology companies are embracing video marketing and doing it well? Video marketing is becoming an ever increasing phenomenon as the web continues to grow and flourish. A third of all internet traffic is now coming from video, requiring technology brands to be competitive and do all they can to be creative and get consumers and businesses talking about their promotional videos. Video marketing in today’s age must connect and engage the user, making them feel like the product or service can actually benefit them in the long run. Let’s take a look at the 5 brands who have done an exceptional job through video marketing to connect to consumers.


Everyone knows Google as the giant search engine that a person can find virtually anything and everything on. However, Google has recently introduced the Chromebook, a laptop very similar in looks to the high end MacBook Pro. Google has utilized a video campaign based on the idea of a laptop for ‘everyone.’ In one of its videos Google appeals to virtually every person: small and big, young and old, for kids, for parents, etc. The video makes it clear that the Chromebook is a user friendly device for experienced users or perhaps someone who has never used a laptop before. To add to this appeal, the use of bright colored font makes the on screen text jump off the screen and seem more attractive. On top of this, Google uses a montage approach by condensing numerous videos and giving them a humorous tone. The campaign that Google has used is the perfect example of a company utilizing video marketing in a fun and efficient way to reach customers.

Intel and Toshiba

Toshiba utilized a far different approach than Google’s campaign based on the idea for everyone. In their video campaign, Toshiba used film stars Harvey Keitel and Craig Roberts to act out an end of the world scenario with aliens involved in the action. The ad promoted itself as the first ever ‘social film’ by allowing viewers to decide the outcome of the storyline and possibly even getting to audition to make an appearance as an evil Ulrick or guardian of the human race. This video campaign was based on the idea to inspire the user and unlock their creativity by allowing them to decide how the video would end. This campaign is quite genius and truly shows that there are numerous options a company can choose to best reach their target audience.


A technological powerhouse, Apple has been reinventing the way people use technology for over twenty years when they first introduced the Macintosh computer in 1984. Apple has not looked back since, however, they did not solely rely on the sheer effectiveness of their products: they built an effective video campaign that informed the user and made them aware of all the technology available to them. Apple’s newest campaign for the iPhone 6 relies on a more subtle approach by giving various specs of the phone along with numerous 360 degree views of the phone. Apple wants the user to focus on just how beautifully engineered this new device is and that no other phone on the market gives you beauty and functionality like the high end iPhone 6 does. This campaign shows that a company does not always have to be flashy or over the top, they need to be real with the customer and give them facts pertinent to the product.


Perhaps the most worthy competitor to Apple, Samsung has utilized a similar, yet somewhat different approach to the one Apple used. In their campaign, Samsung shows off the Galaxy Note 4, a large phone with a beautiful display and a plethora of widgets and applications. The video runs through various features and specifications, which appeals to technology enthusiasts. Samsung’s video is good for enthusiasts who want to compare the iPhone 6 to the Galaxy Note. Samsung also utilized various 360 degree angles and shows varying colors and options the user can choose from when purchasing the phone. In both videos, Apple and Samsung show practical, real world applications of their phones by showing various scenarios or instances in which a particular gadget may come in handy. While it is similar to the campaign utilized by Apple, Samsung does a great job of showing all of the features available to the user.


Zysntra is a Hybrid IT server appliance solution which is essentially a cloud computing client. Zysntra utilizes a campaign similar to a television commercial, but the content is more about persuasion and logic rather than appealing to the emotions of the audience. With many animated images and graphics, the video shows the user what Zynstra does in a practical and easy to understand manner. The video is very relevant to the company but also somewhat appealing because it uses bright colors and moving images to convey the message to the consumer.

All of these examples show just how different a video campaign can be and that the effectiveness of the campaign depends on what segment your company is in. Whether a company chooses to use a funny, serious, informational or specification oriented video depends on which one will communicate best with the target audience. In today’s increasingly technological world, it is clear that companies must be able to create effective video campaigns in order to be competitive.



Creating a social business

social business

Have you ever wondered how to create a social business in an increasingly technological world? A social business can have a dramatic influence on the overall productivity of a company and its employees. A recent survey by LinkedIn and Altimeter has found that socially engaged employees are 27% more likely to feel optimistic about their company’s future and 20% more likely to stay at their current company. So… how it is possible to make an entire workforce become an enterprise of social leaders?

Make social media policies that encourage engagement. The first step is to pick a group of experts who will develop social media policies which serve as guardrails for their co-workers. This helps the employees know how to use social media, know what to talk about, and identify content to share. This group then helps select internal and external social media platforms that fit the company’s vision and engagement rules.

Make training for all levels of social. In this stage, you want to develop a program and invite employees to participate. Your company needs to make a pilot group, which will inform your training strategy as employees learn the company’s social media policies. You need to provide practical, hands on content so that employees can learn the ins and outs of the technology available to them.

Equip employees as advocates.  In this stage, you need to focus on making a steady flow of content and allow your employees to share over FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. This is the stage where you must see what works and what doesn’t work.  Employees will now be able to target groups they think will benefit your company the most.

If employees are engaged in social media they will know what is going on inside the company and then be able to share that pertinent information to the world. Some of the biggest brands have already utilized this process and have done so very successfully. Social media opens the door to numerous opportunities and new markets that could not be reached otherwise. If employees are properly taught how to utilize social media, the benefits to a company will be well worth the training!



How brands can make funny videos online

funny video

Have you ever seen a brand create an online video that was supposed to be funny but wasn’t at all?  It seemed as if something was missing and that the video left a bad taste in your mouth. For many brands, however, this is a reality that they have dealt with before and can have disastrous consequences if used unwisely.  There is no need to be alarmed if this problem has faced your brand because there are a few simple pointers that can dramatically help make a video funny and convey a message at the same time.

Make the video relatable to the audience. Relability is huge for online videos that are meant to be funny. From personal experience, if I can see myself in the same scenario or have been in the same scenario as the person in the video I am much more likely to laugh hysterically at the video. The brand has already communicated effectively to me and I have a positive image of the brand because of it.

Don’t rely only on big names. Spending money on big name celebrities is not always the way to go.  Some of the funniest online videos I’ve ever seen have actors I have never seen or heard of. While yes, having Steve Carell in one of your videos may seem like a great idea, if it does not effectively communicate to the audience it is just a waste of money.

Don’t make your videos too long. Again, from personal experience funny videos that are longer than a minute or two usually end in me pausing or exiting out of the video. One expert says that funny videos should never be longer than a minute and 45 seconds. Some of the funniest videos I’ve seen online lasted less than 45 seconds. If you can make a funny video short and to the point, the viewer is much more likely to stay immersed in the content.

Don’t focus on one product. If a funny video focuses on a product exclusively, then the viewer will not feel like it has related to him in any way.  One expert says that focusing on the product overtly can take away from the brand story and distract the user from enjoying the material.

Make a distribution strategy. Find a way to get your videos seen by millions of people, not just thousands. Brands can do this through partnerships with big online companies like YouTube, Funny or Die, and other sites who focus on funny content. A successful distribution strategy means greater brand awareness and possibly greater profits as well.

When it comes to laughter in the digital marketing arena, it presents unique opportunities for consumer engagement. Online marketers need to realize how effective funny videos can be if used in the right context. It doesn’t take a genius or a celebrity to make an effective funny video online. While making a funny video online isn’t easy, it can be one of the best ways to engage an audience and make them want more!