bkqpt0bcqaamdoaimage from myhopebox.wordpress.com

As I was scrolling through my social media accounts today (purely work related of course) I came across an interesting rebranding campaign. Strangely, this campaign is not being handled by a CEO, an ad agency, or even a company. This campaign has been started by and everyday guy named Greg Karber.  Karber’s #FitchtheHomeless campaign was launched in reaction to some unsavory comments by the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch Michael Jeffries. Jeffries produced some bad press for the brand when he boasted that A&F was not meant for unattractive or uncool consumers.  He was quoted in an interview as saying, “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.” This idea didn’t sit well with Karber who produced and posted this video on May 13. Karber points out that A&F not only keeps overweight individuals from purchasing the clothing through limitations on the sizes the brand produces, but it also burns defected clothing to prevent poor people to gain access to the clothes through charities.

Since this video’s release, the execution of this campaign has created some controversy. Although anyone with a conscience sees the stupidity of the CEO’s statements, some people feel that Karber is also mistreating the homeless by making them symbols of an anti-branding campaign. This is especially problematic since Karber encourages other people to join his movement and post online about it.

In any case, this video is a cautionary tale for brands that choose to position their brand as exclusive from a demographic. Consumers want to spend their money on a brand that they can get behind, and will not hesitate to avoid one that is viewed as unethical. In my courses, we have been discussing crisis management and tactics for dealing with bad press.  Although I am disgusted by the comments by Joffries and the ideals he is encouraging, this case poses an interesting topic for crisis management. How do you begin to save face after these comments? Where would you start? I think that A&F could take this moment in the limelight to redefine its definition of beauty, and its concept of cool in a new campaign.  Everyone loves a bully that learns its lesson.  The company could get involved with foundations that promote wellness, healthy living, and even one that fights homelessness on a larger scale than handing someone a T-shirt. What do you think? Is there hope for this misled brand after all?

quote from http://bostinno.streetwise.co/2013/05/20/fitchthehomeless-backfires-abercrombie-ceo-remarks/


Brands Embed Popular Pins

I recently read a story on Mashable that discussed brands that are embedding popular pins onto their websites.  Pinterest has allowed a select group of brands access to its API so that they may embed groups of pins that are trending or popular onto their website. Currently, this is service is free to brands because Pinterest views this as an opportunity to gain exposure. Some of the brands that are included in the short list are Disney, Whole Foods, Zappos, Target, and (of course) Mashable. So, how are these brands using the pins?

This tool is especially great for retailers like Zappos that has SO many products. A Pinterest feed can cut through the mess by featuring trending styles at a quick glance for consumers…

Screen Shot 2013-11-16 at 8.41.34 PM

image from Zappos.com

Grocery stores and food retailers can inspire consumers to use their products for a yummy recipe….

Screen Shot 2013-11-16 at 8.40.54 PMimage from WholeFoodsMarket.com

The pins create interesting content to engage viewers to stay on a site longer, and the sites give Pinterest access to a wider audience.  I think this feature will really show its value in the next few weeks as shoppers go online to do their holiday shopping.  Christmas gifts, holiday recipes, and decorations are all popular pin boards and search topics. Perhaps brands will be able to show trending holiday gifts on their page, or the hottest decorating idea with links to purchase. How would you use a Pinterest feed on your site?


Creating Images For Instagram Ads

At this point, it is widely known that Instagram is working to integrate advertising into its platform. Two weeks ago, the first ad was distributed to inform the Instagram audience about the changes that will be taking place. This ad is pictured below.

instagram ad

image retrieved from blog.instagram.com


This platform has already been popular for brand promotion, especially in industries like fashion that utilize prominent imaging to engage viewers. Up until this point, users had to follow these brands to view posts. Now, companies will be able to buy ad space in users’ feeds. Instagram has assured that the new advertisements will align with the company’s ideals of the platform as a place for creativity and inspiration. The CEO Kevin Systrom said, “Ads on Instagram should feel like they should be on Instagram.”  This creates new challenges for advertisers that must create posts that are appropriate for Instagram and also engage viewers. Since Instagramers can easily scroll past ads, these images must also grab the viewers attention quickly.  I started brainstorming ads I would enjoy seeing in my feed.  I know that when I use Instagram, I am attracted to images that avoid clutter. Simplicity and modern designs are attractive and easy to view in small image space. The ad Instagram posted reflected this as well. I especially enjoy the cleanliness of this type of design. I found a couple of images that encompass this type of imaging…

A little Mondrian inspiration.


image from fineartists.blogspot.com

This is a display from Anthropologie that uses repetition to create an eye-popping ad.




image retrieved from  www.turningpointepress.com

Playing with perspective and shadows can also increase the attractiveness of an image.

modern-art-germanyimage retrieved from  bubonik.com 

Creating an Online Community


The word “community” is often thrown around in reference to social media. So much, in fact, it has seemed to lose some of its meaning along the way.  Community values are traditionally considered to be neighborly acts of kindness and sharing with one another. When individuals interact on social platforms, they create communities of friends, relatives, and colleagues. They share common interests and post relevant information to one another to benefit each other. So why should the interactions with brands be any different? Many businesses have joined social media platforms to promote brand reputations, but struggle with finding the best way to use the platforms. Here are a few useful tips to promote the growth of an online community for your business:

1. Create Helpful Content

What is your area of expertise? What advice can you share with your followers?

Content that offers advice or tips is more likely to be shared by your audience because it offers useful information. By posting this type of content, your brand will gain credibility and create a reputation as a source for valuable knowledge in your field. This will also position your brand as a caring participant in the community that offers assistance to the other members, instead of one that simply pushes a product. This will promote interaction in the future, as your audience seeks assistance when problems arise.

2. Amplify Stories From Your Audience

When individuals post personal experiences with your brand, repost these comments or pictures on your page. This will serve a dual purpose. First, these interactions create an online culture for your brand. The images and comments from the brand’s users reflect the ideals and interests of these people. For example, if you own a coffee shop, your social media page can become a place for coffee lovers to post and interact, because they share common interests relevant to your brand. Secondly, these comments inherently have high credibility because your community created them. Viewers are more likely to believe a company is outstanding if a peer endorses the brand.

3. Offer Incentives To the Evangelists of Your Brand

Eventually, it will become apparent that there are members of your community that interact with your brand more than others. These are your super fans. They already have a solid interest in your brand, and have credibility within their friend group. Utilize these connections by offering incentives to these members to post about your brand, or amplify one of your posts. Incentives can take the form of discounts, coupons, or merchandise. These members can help to increase the reach of your posts by tapping into the friend groups they have already established.

Hopefully these tips will help to foster strong communities for your brand. Try them out and let us know how it goes!

Pretty in Pink! #KnoxRFTC

Today, I had the pleasure of working as a social media intern for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. When I originally signed up for this event, I had simply viewed it as an opportunity to get some experience using social media to promote an event.  I was surprised by how touched I was by the men and women who gathered to raise money and show support today.  While I was working, I walked around speaking to different groups and asking if I could share their stories. Through this process I was able to witness some pretty amazing moments and meet some very special people. This race is one of the most positive, loving, and supportive events I have EVER attended. I am happy to share some of my favorite moments with you.


The ladies pictured on the left is a breast cancer survivor for twelve years now! She and her friends had rented a hotel room nearby so they could have a girls night  after the race to celebrate. This was right after the white rose ceremony for survivors.



There was a group of well dressed men waiting to escort the survivors across the finish line. At the finish line, survivors receive a pink carnation. #thinkpink




For a lot of participants, the race was an emotional experience. This event is a landmark for many who recognize how far they have come. Beautiful moments like the one below were difficult to miss.




This had to be my best picture of the day. This picture embodies what the day is all about- health, connection, and celebration. Supporters were lined up waiting to congratulate runners as they finished.





It was a pretty cold morning in World’s Fair Park today, the runners were dancing at the start line to keep their body temps up and ready to run. The race began on the bridge on Clinch and ended by the fountains in World’s Fair Park. Hundreds of participants showed up to run and walk the 5k race.




Many of the teams had friends on the sidelines with bright posters to encourage runners. Some of the teams even had catchy slogans/team names like Ra! Ra! for Ta Tas! or Bonkers for Yonkers.




Pink! Pink! Pink! Many of the runners were creative with their garb. Wigs, tutus, capes, glitter, gloves, scarves, oh my! You name it, and they had it…and it was PINK!





Thank you to everyone who took time to speak to me today, and include me in this special event. Save the TaTas!



Mastering Social Influence

Social-Business-Plan-From-Junior-To-Social-Guru2       image from  viralblog.com

    In some ways, the opportunities provided by social influence seem almost too good to be true. When I read about “normal” individuals that receive free flights, tech gadgets, and other perks just because of their influence online, my first reaction is skepticism. Typically, rewards like these are discussed in shady business offers during infomercials in late night TV – “You too can win a trip to Jamaica! Just sell 400 sets of knives!” These individuals are not celebrities or political leaders, so how did they come to be treated as such important individuals? The answer is that these people are masters of a very powerful craft. Although anyone may gain access to the platforms these influencers have built careers with, it is naïve to underestimate the difficulty of their success. After reading Return on Influence: The Revolutionary Power of Klout, Social Scoring, and Influence Marketing by Mark Schaefer, I discovered the skills that these social gurus have acquired was earned with relevant and unfailing interaction with the members of their community, and a skillful understanding of the art of connections.


Return-on-Influence-by-Mark-Schaefer-533x200image from marketing-game.com

             One of the main attributes of a social influencer is continuity. Mitch Joel, a blogger and president of Twist Image is quoted in the text as saying, “Consistency is not so much about sticking to the same train of thought as much as it is about constantly putting your critical thinking out there for the world to discuss and debate” (Schaefer). Consistent posting gains credibility with an audience for two reasons: First, this trait shows the author’s commitment to creating content and providing regular posts for his or her readers. Secondly, the archive of posts shows the writer’s personality and development of opinions over time. This enables new followers to gain a more complete picture of what the author thinks and feels. This diligent work ethic helps not only to create, but also to maintain a strong social community. Within this community, social influencers gain the trust of their followers. The audience looks to these social influencers for advice and opinions on anything and everything from restaurants to marketing strategies.

            A second attribute vital to become a social influencer was the willingness to go to great lengths to make connections that will further your influence.  Mark Schaefer noted times when he, himself had traveled through the night to attend conferences with peers in his field. It is important to note that not all connections are valued the same. It is true that you never know how a connection will benefit you in the future so all connectivity is valuable. However, identifying other influencers or experts may strengthen your online presence more than an everyday connection. One example I enjoyed was the comparison of Paul Revere and William Dawes. Although both riders warned the community of the oncoming British, Revere has received all of the historical fame for the act. Schaefer attributes this to the fact that Revere was able to ride directly to the leaders of the militia because he had already developed a network of connections, while Dawes visited the homes of regular members of the community. Therefore, identifying leaders when making connections can help to improve online influence more efficiently.

            These are just a few of the many skills held by these social influencers. These individuals help to drive markets and transform consumer opinions. The skills needed to gain this level of influence are not limited to connectivity and continuity, but these fundamental elements are essential to become a strong social influencer.

As I have said before, a special thanks to Mark Schaefer for visiting our classroom and sharing his thoughts with us.



Tweet It. See It. – Comcast and Twitter Partner Up

Tweet. Watch. Tweet.



Comcast and Twitter have announced a new feature called “See It” for customers to connect with TV shows.  The feature will enable customers to access TV shows from NBC (owned by Comcast) directly from a Twitter message. This partnership is designed to help customers view and discover shows with ease.  It will be an “See It” icon on a smart device or computer that will bring up a menu of shows. Consumers will be able to watch TV live or set up a DVR remotely from a phone. Essentially, users will always have a TV remote in their pocket. This is an exciting announcement for Twitter, since the platform has been working to solidify its position as the second screen social media. (Check out last week’s blog post on second screen) Twitter and Comcast are eliminating nearly every step between hearing about a show, and watching the program.

What will this mean for the fans?

One of the reasons these platforms are fighting for control of the second screen is to have access to the communities that log on to discuss shows. Access to these audiences will mean advertising opportunities in the future for Twitter. Will access to NBC be enough to convince users to avoid other platforms? I am not so sure. The program is set to launch in November, so only time will tell.


Tips for Restaurants Using Social Media

When was the last time you went out to eat?

Did you notice any familiar symbols on the menu?

hint: lower left corner 🙂


image taken at Boyd’s Jig and Reel, Knoxville, Tn

It is no surprise that social media has become a popular tool for the hospitality industry to promote engagement with customers.  From diners to five star cuisine, an overwhelming percentage of restaurants have jumped on the social media band wagon to convince customers to come in for a bite. According to the Hospitality Technology’s Customer Engagement Technology Study, 89% of restaurants use social media to attract customers. Earlier this week, I was asked to apply my knowledge as a social media student/server to help a friend who is managing a social media account for a local restaurant. Here are a few of the tips we discussed…

Quick Tips for Social Media in the Food Industry

1. Understand the advantages of different platforms

Facebook and Twitter are the most widely used platforms by restaurants. This fact can most likely be attributed to the high number of members held by each social media giant. According to the Hospitality Technology’s study mentioned above, 94% of food service companies use Facebook, while 77% of these companies use Twitter.  These platforms are useful for engaging repeat customers and regulars. For instance, these platforms are a great forum for discussing special events or promotions. Perhaps the restaurant has a band playing or is holding a wine tasting. These platforms may be used to remind customers of special events, or provide a place for customers to post comments. In my experience, these platforms help keep the brand top of mind for individuals who already enjoy the brand. However, most posts will not be seen unless an individual has followed or like the page of the restaurant. So how is social media used to attract new customers? When talking to guests I have met that are traveling or new to town, the most mentioned tools used to find a new restaurant were platforms like Urbanspoon or Yelp. These platforms are tailored to the food industry and have search capabilities to browse nearby restaurants. For this reason, it is advisable to have detailed descriptions of food items, and photos of the establishment. Consider these platforms as a place to make a first impression. Of course, these are just a few of the various platforms available to interact with guests. When creating content for other platforms, remember to consider the audience and the type of engagement typical of the social media. What kind of content are these individuals searching for? How can this restaurant create that kind of content?

2. Make a plan for social media accounts

Do not dismiss social media because it is free advertising. When businesses purchase a print ad or a billboard, each detail is reviewed and arranged to best convey a message to consumers. This level of planning and consideration needs to be applied to social ads as well. What needs to be accomplished by a social media campaign? Who are you trying to reach? How can I tailor my information to these people? Something as simple as timing can greatly change the effect of the ad. Decide an overarching theme or personality to be portrayed in ads. This will help to make posts have a flow and consistency for viewers.

3. Meet my friend HootSuite


If you are not familiar with this program already….get excited. Hootsuite provides users with a space to manage multiple accounts and platforms at the same time. It can also be used to schedule posts, so that users may plan out social media events ahead of time. I doubt that any manager or owner has enough free time to post manually each day. This tool makes it easy for these busy individuals to set up social posts for the week and move on to other tasks.

Hopefully some of this information is helpful. I would love to hear other tips for creating successful social media campaigns for restaurants. What do you think??



Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 4.07.10 PM

images from https://twitter.com/search?q=%23DearCongress&src=tyah


The government shutdown has created a social media phenomenon over the past week. In the midst of a crisis, many government-run social media accounts have been temporarily closed.

In my introductory class to Public Relations, I learned that in crisis management situations it is important to participate in the conversation as soon as possible to avoid letting an outside source control public view of your company.  In light of recent events, it seems ironic that multiple government social media accounts are experiencing a blackout because the personnel responsible for these accounts are out of work right now.

This is especially discouraging since so many citizens are using social media outlets to post opinions concerning the issue. Posts, cartoons, and images of people affected are spreading like wildfire online.  Hashtags like #Dearcongress, #goodbyegovernment, and #governmentshutdown are forums for discussing frustrations with the current situation.

Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 4.01.20 PMScreen Shot 2013-10-05 at 4.51.58 PMScreen Shot 2013-10-05 at 4.50.17 PM

images from https://twitter.com/search?q=%23DearCongress&src=tyah


Meanwhile, individuals in government positions are still using personal social media to save face and communicate with the online population. Posts like the one below have been common amongst political leaders to show the population that they are working on the problem.

Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 4.45.53 PM


image from https://blog.twitter.com/2013/politicians-govt-agencies-turn-to-twitter-amidst-shutdown

Other officials, like the President, are using personal accounts to call supporters to action. Twitter retweets are used to show support of a leader or to launch a tweet attack on the opposite party.

Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 5.02.52 PM

image from https://blog.twitter.com/2013/politicians-govt-agencies-turn-to-twitter-amidst-shutdown


By shutting down government-run social media accounts, individuals are going to other places to find information. Therefore, the authority over these topics is being displaced to other sites or people.  This further reiterates the perception of a disconnected government by issuing fragmented information from various sources. From the overwhelming amount of commentary online, and the dismal approval rating of our Senate, perhaps social media personnel should have remained on the essential list.

What do you think the senate should be doing on social media to communicate with the population? Thoughts and opinions are welcome!


The Breaking Battle For Second Screen


image from http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/510426/20131001/breaking-bad-finale-funny-memes.htm

Well, it has been almost one week since the dramatic ending of Breaking Bad, and surprisingly enough, the world is still turning.  10.3 million viewers tuned into to watch Walter White last Sunday and social media platforms were flooded with posts from fans related to the series finale.  There were finale parties with costumes, commentary during the aired program, and even blue party snacks made to imitate the crystal meth produced on the show.

breaking bad

image from http://guestofaguest.com/los-angeles/events/instagram-roundup-inside-the-breaking-bad-series-finale-party-bitch

It is no secret that Twitter and Facebook have been fighting to become the leading platform to post about TV. This conflict made Breaking Bad a particularly attractive opportunity to show the engagement of fans on each platform. It is difficult to discern a winner though, because each platform measures engagement differently. Twitter claims about 600,000 people posted about the show, with roughly 1.2 million messages or tweets over a 10 hour period surrounding the show. Facebook, on the other hand, says 3 million people posted, commented, or liked a post concerning the show over a 24 hour period.

I am not sure if either outlet will be able to position itself as the clear leader in second screen commentary.  The different abilities of both platforms seem to be advantages to the super fan. For instance, Twitter comments are short and easy to read, which may be ideal for the commercial break when fans are seeing what their friends have posted. On the other hand, Facebook allows more content, so it might be more useful when a fan wants to share larger content with his or her online community.  For fans like myself, I have different friends on each platform and interact with these audiences in different ways. So I may post about a show on both platforms because I want to share with both of these communities. Either way, the turf battle rages on and only time will tell if either of these platforms will achieve the throne of Second Screen King.

Perhaps the true winner is a platform that isn’t created yet.  What kind of attributes would you want in a social platform to discuss TV? Let me hear your thoughts!

****Figures pulled from New York Times article that can be read here.