Manage Your Brand Strategically. It’ll Take Your Business to The Next Level

downloadWhether you are a small or big business, or a person trying to market yourself, managing your brand is one of the most important things you have to do. Strategic branding gives you a competitive advantage in whatever market you are in, or trying to enter. Because your brand is what pushes customers to choose your products/services over another company, it is very important that you carefully choose what you want your brand to be associated with.

For starters, you need to make your brand associations simple enough to be memorable in minds of your customers. Therefore, simplicity is the key. You want people to remember you, and be able to describe what you are about in less than five words. If possible, they should be able to say one word about you or your business that summarizes what you do. For example when you think or hear Volvo, the words that come to your minds are “reliability”, “safety” and “family”. Therefore, someone who is looking for a reliable car wouldn’t go far because Volvo is the answer. It should be the same for your business. However, you have to make sure that your brand associations speak to what your customers value the most. Usually, marketers choose messages that sound good, but sometimes those messages do not align with customers’ needs.  With all the resources we have online today, it is easy to find out what your customers want and need to better serve them. You could run a survey on Survey Monkey to learn about ways to serve them. Once you know what people are expecting from you, it is easy to build your brand around those expectations to make sure it speaks to customers personally.

Besides simplicity, memorability helps your brand a lot. As a business owner, you want people to remember who you are and what you do. For this reason, you need to be very careful when you describe yourself. Your brand associations should be something really clear and easy to remember, otherwise your customers will be confused. You don’t want that. In order to do so, you must often engage with your customers to remind them of you. Remember that effective branding is all about conversation and building relationships. Because of this, it is important to find tools that allow you to do both. In my opinion, social media is the perfect tool to engage into a conversation about your brand with your customers not only to give them a chance to express their feedback (both positive and negative), but also to give yourself a chance to remind them who you are and what you do. It’s not enough to have a Facebook page/account, a twitter or an Instagram presence, you need to start the conversation and continue to participate and give feedback when needed.

Your brand is your reputation, and the quality of your reputation determines if you are trustworthy or not. If you manage your brand strategically, you will keep your current customers loyal to your brand, and will attract new ones. Research shows that when two products are of equal qualities, customers choose the product which has strong brand associations.

 

 

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Is Instagram The Next Big Thing? Cool Kids Say Yes

Now that everyone is on Facebook, including parents and grandparents, most kids are looking for something else that could still considered “cool” because their family members aren’t using it.  That other thing is Instagram.

Instagram is the next big trend in the social media world. Following the steps of Facebook, Instagram has become the app that all the cool kids use now. Some people would say that Facebook is still the hottest social media tool used today, but looking ahead, Instagram may have a powerful place in your marketing.

If a business wants to reach that particular cool kid demographic, there is a strong business case for Instagram. According to EverythingPR54% of Top Brands Include Instagram in their Social Strategy (for 2012) and this number will continue to increase significantly as Instagram is gains popularity from big brands and rapidly customer growth.

Nike has leveraged its presence on the social media tool by scoring more than a million followers on its Instagram page. On its page, Nike posts pictures of products and the followers do the rest–they like the picture or they comment on it. That’s free marketing and massive, instant visibility.

Not only does Instagram allow you to reach a specific niche of cool kids, but the fact that pictures and videos there can be directly shared through other social media channels like Facebook or Twitter makes it even more appealing. The social media tool becomes a one-stop shop with tremendous marketing and brand-building potential.

This social media platform works well for small businesses as well as fortune 500 companies. Success depends on how well the organization is using it. For companies selling products, Instagram is the place to showcase pictures, videos and create a buzz around them. If you use Instagram in a smart, strategic way and integrate it with your other social media accounts, you have more chances to maximize your online and mobile presence and reach more customers every day.

Companies, You Must Leverage Your Instagram Presence

Instagram is the next big thing in the social media world. Following the steps of  Facebook, Instagram has become the app that all the cool kids are using. Some people would say that Facebook is the hottest social media used today, I wouldn’t argue completely against that assertion; however, I would say that Instagram is the next big thing and it is right here (to quote Samsung). Now that everybody is on Facebook, even the parents and grandparents, most kids are using something else that is still considered COOL because their parents aren’t using it.  And that other thing is Instagram.

imagesWell, if a company wants to reach that particular demographic, look no more, Instagram is the real deal now. According to EverythingPR54% of Top Brands Include Instagram in their Social Strategy in 2012 and this numbers will continue to increase significantly as Instagram is becoming more and more popular among brands and the number or users has grown very fast since last year.

Nike for example has leveraged its presence on the social media using by scoring more than a million followers on its Instagram page. This number is very powerful as these people choose to follow Nike and it means that they either are Nike customers/consumers or they like the company to the point of following it on Instagram. On its page, Nike posts pictures of products and the followers do the rest — they like the picture or they comment on it. That’s visibility.

Not only does Instagram allow you to reach that specific niche of “cool kids” , but the fact that those pictures can be directly shared through other social media channels like Facebook or Twitter makes it even more appealing because by doing so, you will also reach those people who aren’t on Instagram, but who are using other social media sites.

This cool social media platform works well for small businesses as well as fortune 500 companies. It’s all depends on how well the company is using it. For those companies selling lines of products or introducing new lines of products, Instagram is the place to showcase the pictures of the products and create a buzz around them. In conclusion, if you use your Instagram smartly and link it to your other social media accounts, you have more chances to make the best out of your social media presence and reach more customers everyday and keep in touch with news trends in the business and what consumers want to see you doing.

Are new technologies endangering human interactions?

Now everyone that I know has access to internet either on their mobile or any other device. If you ask people the best invention that has improved their lives in the past 30 years, I am very sure that many people will talk about the internet being one of them, if not the best.

I wouldn’t disagree with that assentation. As far as I can remember, I have always used the internet, and I can’t imagine myself spending a whole day without accessing the internet through my phone, my laptop or any other device that can allow me to.

I use the internet to do my homework, to do research, to Skype with my family and friends back home, to get news, to watch movies and TV shows, to shop  etc. in general everyone would agree that the internet, and various devices we can access it on, have made our lives easier. For example, you don’ even have to have a pen and a stamp to write and mail a check. You can write an e-check and send it electronically. How awesome is that? We don’t have to go to travel agencies to book a flight. We can do it online and it takes less time and energy.

cellphonepeopleHowever, I am worried about one thing. I am just worried that pretty soon, we won’t be able to interact with people face to face, or just meet people that we randomly meet that have a positive effect on us.

Last week I read an article that at the airport in Minneapolis, most restaurants will have Ipads or other types of tablets available for customer to use. I told myself, what’s a great idea? But when I read further down and it said that people could now order their food using the tablet, many questions came to me. If people can order using a mobile device, then there is no need for a waitress or waiter. some may agree that it’s fast and good to be able to order using a mobile device, but why don’t we see the value in human interactions? talking to a server may be the only human face to face conversation that some people have in a whole day. depriving hose people the chance to smile or to talk directly to other human beings is a disaster to me. It’s like denying people water or air.

We spend most of our time using our cell phones or other mobile devices. And while we’re doing that, we’re tuning out the people who are actually in the same room as us. We seem to have long ago crossed the line as to where doing this stuff is appropriate. It’s really scary how far technology is taking us and I am worried that in the years to come we will end up not having face to face conversations with the people we live with at all. It’s already happening. For example, I live with my cousin, but I find myself talking to her on Whatsapp instead of going to the next room and talking to her face to face.

It is great that technology is changing positively our lives and making it easier to do certain things. However, it shouldn’t undermine the importance of human interactions, especially face-to-face conversations every time we can do so. I promise myself that I will do my best to communicate face to face every time it is possible to do so, and use technology devices appropriately.

Responding to a Crisis in Real Time

Now that we are all more or less social media addicts, we are just giving more work to companies out there, especially if they are dealing with a crisis. responding to crisis today has become easy and challenging at the same time. Social media usually amplifies the a crisis because of the number of people who are on site like Twitter or Facebook. In the old days, if an add was offensive, it takes some time for everyone to see it and the company can pull it out before more damage is done. Today, you release an ad on TV, in seconds it’s already uploaded on YouTube and before you realize, everybody is either sharing it or commenting it on Facebook and twitter.

If a company’s PR team is on top of everything, they can plan ahead of time what to do if a crisis arouses. In this case, Social website that usually are dangerous for spreading quickly messages, can also become the very best tool to react , to engage in a discussion or to apologize, there is need to.

Being on top of everything is very rewarding, especially if you are able to turn an unfortunate situation to your advantage. That’s what Oreo did, during the Superbowl blackout.

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Not only did Oreo get publicity for the tweet, but also it made itself talked about weeks after the Superbowl. This tweet was retweeted 10,000 times in an hour. This just shows how easy you can turn something around. According to AdAge, the Oreo graphic was “designed, captioned and approved within minutes,” according to Sarah Hofstetter, president of the cookie brand’s digital agency of record, Dentsu-owned 360i

Therefore, it is very important for every company to have a crisis plan that involves the worst scenario. By having one, companies are setting themselves to control any crisis, if it ever came up. Using Facebook, twitter, or another social networking site, it allows the company to send out a message very fast, and reach as many people as possible.

 

 

Social Media helping Nonprofits achieve their goals

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Social media has proven to be a success at helping NPOs reach their goals. They provide free tools like– blogs, sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare– to promote their image, to recruit new volunteers and high profile workers, to raise money to direct to their mission and raise awareness. Social media allows a conversation between a nonprofit organization and the people they are reaching out to. It has improved the way both communicate and has allowed many fights to be led, many issues to be treated. Many NPOs are overall happy that they have included social media in their everyday life because of all these benefits it is providing them with. For example, the American Red Cross is overall happy it has integrated social media in their everyday life because they have seen the results that follow.

Social media includes a number of tools such as the internet, mobile device, applications, websites etc. that can be used in order to convey a message by creating a shared meaning. The most popular forms of social media used today in the world and mostly by Nonprofit Organizations are: blogs, social website like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, video and media sharing platforms such as YouTube and more. These tools are free of charge, which makes them more attractive to NPOs to use them because they allow them to get their work done at low cost. Social networking sites have given non-profits an incredible portfolio of free tools to use to raise awareness, boost their public image, garner new volunteers, and raise money.

Companies are continuously launching marketing campaigns in an effort to promote their brand and boost their sales. However NPOs cannot afford to launch huge marketing campaigns using traditional marketing tools because of their cost. This is where Social media marketing comes in. Most social media marketing ‘tools’ are free to use and can provide the same amount of marketing exposure whether you are just starting out or are a giant conglomerate. Since NPOs budgets are so tight, they turn to these tools that social media provide to do their own marketing whether for the sake of public image or for the sake of raising money.  NPOs, by using social sites like Twitter or Facebook, reach out to more people in an interactive way, which allows them to get feedback on what they are doing and to improve areas in which they are not doing so well.

Volunteers are the greatest resource that a charity can have. There are some great social sites that can help swell your volunteer numbers, including Facebook and Twitter. The biggest social networking sites reach the greatest audiences and therefore the greatest amount of volunteers. However, other social sites have popped up with a specific focus on volunteering. For instance, sites like Idealist.org and Volunteer.org can help you find motivated, socially conscious and talented volunteers. Raising money for charities and causes is another reason why nonprofit organizations turn to social media. It is a known fact that NPOs do not make money and do not have money to spend on achieving their mission unless they ask a third party for money. Usually, they turn to philanthropists to get money, but sometimes they need more money than what philanthropists can provide. Therefore, they have to turn to anybody who can donate money to help them achieve their goal.  The traditional marketing methods used to reach out to people are so expansive that NPOs cannot afford at the same time using them and continuing their mission because it will cost them more money than what they can get. This is where social media intervenes by providing free tools that allow NPOs to get more donations for their causes. Charities like the Direct Relief International and the Natural Resources Defense Council have raised millions of dollars with Google’s AdWords and YouTube non-profit program and tools. Google’s portfolio of non-profit tools includes up to $10,000 monthly worth of AdWords clicks (generally used to find more donors) and free or highly discounted Google Apps .

Facebook, the addiction that brings me news and gossip

imagesCAHDLY7JLast year, I closed my Facebook account for two months. Why? Because I realized how addicted to Facebook I was and I knew that I needed to try to break the addiction. The first few days were unbearable. I had to find something else to fill in my Facebook time. Believe me, nothing could replace the numbers of hours I put in everyday in Facebook. I became used to the fact that I wasn’t using Facebook anymore, but something pushed me to reconnect my Facebook account. I realized how disconnected I was, how I didn’t know what was going on around the world. I reopened my Facebook account for these two reasons: getting the news from everywhere and be up to date with all the gossip that makes Facebook not boring at all.

When something wrong is going on in my country or when the government makes a new decision on exportation for example, when the congress pass a new law on media and so on, I get all that information on Facebook. I’ve already liked the pages of news outlet from my country as well as global news outlets on Facebook and it’s easier for me to access the news this way than going to the outlet website. News outlet Facebook pages are not the only one to inform me about what’s going on around the world. My friends do too. If they read, see or listen to something interesting or newsworthy, they post that on their page and some of them tag me if they think that the article or video will interest me.  The good news is that I am not the weird one. Many people use social media as a means to access news. In fact, One-third of adults under 30 get news on social networks now.

Besides news, Facebook has been a great way to keep up with gossip. We get gossip about celebrities, which sometimes is true and some other time false. For example, I really like Jennifer Aniston and it’s on Facebook that I learned that she is engaged to Justin Theroux, which was true. It’s still on Facebook that I learned that she is pregnant with twins, which was false. It’s also on Facebook that I learn that a friend got married or something good happened to them. Still on the same medium that I will know if the wedding party sucked or was great, that I will know if the dress the friend wore was beautiful and expensive or cheap and ugly. It’s also on Facebook that unfortunately people spread insults and defamation about other people. Sharing gossip with friends on Facebook is addictive and arousing, that’s what makes Facebook what it is today.

The most important thing that I learned is that Facebook is not only a great tool, but also a dangerous one. It can help people or it can ruin their lives. It is important to use it accordingly, just like other social media sites. Our ethic should lead all the actions undertaken on Facebook. Regardless of its negative impact, Facebook has been a great tool for me to get news and stay connected with the world wherever I happen to be.