Social Media

On Repeat – Lord and Taylor’s Handkerchief Dress

Lord & Taylor’s latest campaign will have you seeing double… or 50 times to be more exact.

Last weekend, Lord & Taylor debuted its handkerchief paisley dress from its new Design Lab collection.  The dress didn’t debut on Lord & Taylor’s Instagram feed though. It showed up on the feeds of 50 influential fashion bloggers that were hand-selected to help with the announcement.

I am a regular user of Instagram. Something about the easy, image-focused format makes the app so addicting!  Personally, I love using the app for inspirations on photography, quotes, news and of course, fashion. In the world of fashion blogging, what sets each fashion blogger apart from others is their own sense of individual style.  So imagine my surprise when I saw several bloggers wearing the same paisley handkerchief dress from Lord and Taylor on my feed!

Snowing again 😔 dreaming of a getaway – thanks @lordandtaylor for this dress from their Design Lab collection.

A post shared by Jean | Extra Petite Blog (@jeanwang) on

 

 

Perfect weather for a day at the beach in my #DesignLab dress exclusive to @lordandtaylor #ad

A post shared by Walk In Wonderland • Sheryl (@walkinwonderland) on

After a little digging around, I realized it was a concerted effort by Lord & Taylor to get the word out on their new Design Lab Collection.  The company had selected each of the bloggers for their unique sense of style and of course, their fan base! Each of the bloggers selected had sizeable follower counts – anywhere from 50,000 to 1.4 million followers.

This got me excited about #thedress (haha) but even more so, about the marketing!  In taking this unprecedented move, Lord & Taylor had found the perfect way to reach their target market of 18 – 35 year old fashion conscious women, bringing exposure to the brand in a bold, new way.  Whatever your perception of the brand was (or lack of, in a lot of cases, I bet!), Lord & Taylor had successfully attached itself to some of today’s most respected and followed fashion bloggers in America. This must have injected some new energy into a brand that has  been around since the 1800’s!

I read through some of the comments on the paisley dress photos.  Some followers were genuinely interested in the dress. Others were not so amused – there were a few people who expressed disappointment that their favourite bloggers had ‘sold out’ and received compensation for a a very sponsored post.  But overall, the way I see it – Lord & Taylor is ready to fight for this coveted consumer market and it has entered into the fight in a very bold way! So far the strategy seems to be working, as the sold out within a week!

This has been an interesting campaign to follow! Does this affect the way followers consume these blogger’s editorial content? Will they be more leery now to these fashion ‘collaborations’? or has it been a mutually beneficial exercise for the bloggers and the brand?

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Movie Watching: Chef and the Use of Social Media

Chef Movie Jon Favreau

I just finished watching Chef – a feel good movie about a chef who loses his restaurant and bounces back by starting up a food truck.  As with every good movie, there is a journey and chef Carl’s takes him from Miami back home to Los Angeles. Along the way, he finds his passion again, regains his dignity and reunites with his family.

But why am I writing about it here?  Well, in the movie, chef Carl has a very public breakdown after being called out by a food critic.  The breakdown is captured by nearby by-standers and made worse by going viral on the Internet. When he attempts to respond on Twitter (without understanding fully how Twitter works, I might add) he accidentally starts a (very public) war with the food critic that results in him losing his job at the restaurant.  The marketing nerd in me was very amused by how Twitter was incorporated into the movie.  Later, he has an opportunity to take over a food truck in Miami, thus beginning his ‘journey of self-awareness’.  His 10 year old, tech-savvy, marketing genius of a son, Percy decides to join in on the road trip, along with Carl’s sous chef/good friend, Martin.  They re-invent themselves and El Jefe, the Cuban food sensation / food truck was born. Throughout the road trip, which takes them from Miami to New Orleans to Austin and finally home to Los Angeles, Percy tweets, vines, and uses a Facebook page to promote the food truck and saves his dad’s bruised reputation.  The marketing nerd in me loved the idea.  Percy was an absolute little marketing genius! He posted real moments captured on the trip and allowed the public to get to know the chef – offering the real human side that people didn’t know before he had his breakdown.  He tweeted live updates to let the crowds know where they were and what they were doing.  He made Vine videos to capture the moments and in the end, compiled an edited video of 1 second clips captured throughout the trip.  What amazing content to do marketing with!  Throughout the movie, I was reminded of how important it is to be real with your customers.  After all, as Seth Godin says “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”

Consumers now a days are so used to advertising and so skeptical to marketing ‘lies’ and half truths. Even when they are not lies, consumers just assume the worst. That is why it’s so important to find other ways to speak to your customers – such as using testimonials or showing results.  But what’s also interesting for consumers too is understanding the ‘why’ behind why you do what you do, sell what you sell, etc. Letting them know your vulnerabilities, your passions makes your brand more relatable, more human even and therefore more trust-worthy.

Anyway, it was a fun movie to watch. A bit long at times but with Sofia Vergara playing Carl’s ex-wife, John Leguizamo as the trusty side kick / sous chef and Jon Favreau as the chef you can’t help but root for, it definitely was a light-hearted, fun watch.  Plus, as I was looking up the links for this movie, I found out that Jon Favreau actually trained with real life chef Roy Choi to prepare for this role.  The duo even brought El Jefe to life and served the truck’s signature ‘Cubano’ sandwiches in LA! There were even plans to open up an El Jefe restaurant too – the ultimate marketing move for cross promotion!

Here’s a chef Carl getting a lesson on Twitter from his son, Percy:

 

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Why Social Still Matters

Why SocialStill Matters
I have been thinking a lot more about social media marketing lately – mostly because I’ve been able to do a lot more of it at my new job! It’s been an exhilarating experience building up our page and increasing engagement from our followers but I’ve also encountered first hand a lot of the challenges that brands face when carrying out social media marketing. How do I increase the number of followers? How can I increase impressions organically without paying for ads? How can I turn followers into consumers? What content should I post?  and finally – Is the time I spend here time well spent?

As much as experts can talk about the formulas and the science behind marketing on these social channels, there is no secret trick where you can apply ‘a’, do it ‘b’ number of times to get an increase of ‘x’ number of followers and ‘y%’ increase in engagement.  If someone has discovered that elusive formula, please tell me. I might even be willing to pay!  The whole point behind social media is that it is about the people – the connections, the interactions and… the authenticity.  Anything lacking in these three key ingredients would just be a disaster.

Social media marketing after all… is so much about the authentic voice.  The voice that people can trust, can relate to, and can remember (most preferably, at the moment of purchase!).  When you have enough people believing in that voice and will follow it – you inevitably have a ‘community’. This idea of community is so powerful – because they are made up of people that believe in your brand and can be your advocates.  What social media can offer that traditional channels can’t, is a chance to interact with these people and have meaningful 2 way conversations. The problem though, is this type of value can be so hard to measure.

Even so, I will say this.  Because of social media, I’ve had the opportunity to engage with people both online and offline.  I’ve had glimpses into their lives, been privy to their thoughts on our brand through the comments they make and the conversations that they have with their friends and family – this is the type of data that is truly invaluable.  These snippets have taught me so much – not just about what we sell, but how our products have truly changed their lives. Getting to see these moments have brought even more meaning to my job – so while it is hard to justify the efforts spent on social media, I say it is all worthwhile – if not just for these moments that help bring everything back into perspective.

What are your thoughts on social media marketing and its place in the marketing mix?

 

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A Few Interesting Facts on Social Media in 2014

Social Media Stats 2014

A few interesting social media stats I found, courtesy of Our Social Times (article here). This just goes to show how connected we all are – spanning social media networks.  Users are more engaged than ever.  Of these facts, the most interesting to me is the fact that the average age of Facebook users has gone up.  There is an increasing number of seniors using the Internet and Facebook regularly.

(As a sidenote, this ‘infographic’ if you can call it that, was created in Canva.  I talked about this free online graphics design tool in a past post.  I’ve already used it for a few design projects including a client PowerPoint presentation that was uploaded to SlideShare also.  What a useful and versatile tool!  The more I use it, the more I love it.  My only negative comment is that it can be slow and non-responsive at times. Read more on Canva)

 

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Gmail’s New ‘Send to Anyone on Google+’ Feature

This past week, Google announced that they would be releasing a new ‘Send to Anyone’ feature on Gmail.  This feature will allow anyone with both a Gmail and Google+ account to send you emails to your inbox – even if they don’t know your email address!  I’m not too worried myself, since I don’t have that many people in my circles or following me but the idea of not having control of what emails come through to my inbox is one that is a bit unsettling.

Gmail Send to Anyone Feature

In any case, here are a few quick facts that you should know about this new feature. (You’re welcome!)

  1. You need to have both a Gmail and Google+ account to use this feature
  2. You can control who can contact you – there are 4 options to choose from:
    • Anyone on Google+: anyone who follows you on Google+ can send you a message
    • Extended Circles: anyone who you follow or follows someone you follow can send you a message
    • Circles: only the people you follow in your circles can send you a message
    • No One: you will not receive any messages through Google+ using this feature

    Find this in your Gmail General Settings tab. (more…)

Gap – Doing Social Media Right

I read this story the other day on how a Gap ad featuring Sikh model, actor and designer Waris Ahluwalia was vandalized with racist comments in the Bronx.  The poster had the words “Make Love” replaced with “Make Bombs”. The vandals also added “Please stop driving taxis” underneath.   I won’t even start on how ignorant the comments are!  What I liked about this story though is the happy ending – people coming together to show their support for Waris and giving Gap kudos for embracing diversity and how they handled the situation.

The picture first came to light when a friend of Arsalan Iftikhar’s posted it on Facebook.  Iftikhar, senior editor of The Islamic Monthly retweeted the picture on Twitter where it gained traction.  As soon as Gap caught wind of this, they reached out to find out the location of the vandalized poster.  Since they couldn’t replace the poster right away, they immediately changed the background on their Twitter account instead to the picture featuring Waris.  This happened over just 2 days!

This is a perfect example of a company doing social media right – Gap found out about the poster, responded and took action publicly and reinforced their stance with immediate action (by changing their Twitter background image). The picture only became viral after many people joined in in retweeting and sharing the image.  Social media gave the people a voice and the brand listened.

Waris Gap Ad

Twitter via Gap

I also am impressed with this latest campaign of Gap’s!  This picture of Waris is actually part of the “Make Love” campaign for the 2013 holiday season.  The campaign also features many other activists and cultural icons in film, design, music and art.  Gap’s marketing message has been to spread love, celebrate inclusion and diversity. The images that are a part of the campaign are beautiful and powerful! Good job in defining the brand as a ‘feel good’ brand!

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#TBT and Other Instagram Hashtags

Using Hashtags

Beyond pretty pictures of food and sunsets, Instagram is actually a really good marketing platform for brands!  Whereas in the beginning, I was just following and sharing photos with friends – today, I would say that up to 30% of accounts that I follow (and love) are brands!  Which got me thinking… how can I use Instagram for marketing?

Without a doubt, pictures are worth gold in today’s marketing landscape. People love to be inspired by pictures – almost as much as they want to “inspire” others with pictures of their life.  For B2C businesses (especially those that sell pretty products!), Instagram is a great medium for communication, and outreach.  Pictures show personality and companies can showcase the human side of their brands.  If done right, I think Instagram can help companies generate interest, gain followers and build a brand.

Maintaining an Instagram account requires an understanding of “Instagram Language” – that is, the hashtags and how or when they can be used. (And when you’re over the top :D ) #TBT or #ThrowbackThursday is a popular one, but did you know there are ones for each day of the week?

Monday

#MondayBlues, #MusicMonday, #ManicMonday

Tuesday

#TransformationTuesday, #TakeMeBackTuesday

Wednesday

#WednesdayHumpDay, #HumpDay, #WednesdayWisdom, #WayBackWednesday

Thursday

#ThursdayFunDay

Friday

#FlashbackFriday, #FridayFunDay, #FeelGoodFriday

You can also look for hashtags that are popular with your target audience although I think the funnest part is creating the hashtags that people can relate to that are also relevant to your business.  Keep it fun and be inspired!

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