As someone who contributes to numerous blogs and has a few of her own, I’m always browsing around the Web looking for inspiration and trying to find ways to improve my own content. There’s definitely an interesting contrast between personal blogs and those that belong to certain brands. While checking out the blogs for individual brands, I found that some corporate companies are absolutely killing it by honing in on a specific target audience/demographic and providing interesting, useful, and entertaining content for them. Those of us who write for smaller brands can definitely learn a thing from these four in particular.
The Brand: Whole Foods
The bloggers at Whole Foods really know what they’re doing when it comes to catering to their audience. Just look at their page – you’re greeted immediately with pictures of mouth-watering (probably organic) meals and treats which encourage you to read the surrounding text. With a closer read, you find that Whole Foods wants to supply its customers with recipes, tips, and information about different types of foods: namely, the ones they sell in their stores.
What we can learn: master the art of the how-to! Clearly, if you’re a big enough fan of Whole Foods that you’re checking out their blog, you’re probably a foodie to some degree. Whole Foods is doin’ it right because they show you cool things you can do with their products.
The Brand: Flickr
You know Flickr – the photo-sharing site renowned for offering its users an insane amount of storage and presentation space. It’s got one of the coolest blogs around, especially for photography lovers (which, one can assume, is nearly everyone in their target audience). Their posts are rife with super-cool, eye-catching pieces of art and often contain very little text aside from descriptions. They also have monthly themes and encourage their readers to get involved and submit their own themed photographs.
What we can learn: a picture is worth a thousand words. Blog posts don’t always have to be text-centered. And, maybe more importantly, get your readers to engage by contributing their own content.
The Brand: Zappos
Zappos faces a bit of a challenge: they don’t have a very niche target demographic, and they sell everything under the sun, so generating fresh content could be considered a bit difficult. They jump this hurdle pretty gracefully, though, by distributing their posts amongst multiple bloggers who all specialize in something different. They do weekly themes, such as Designer Picks and Wanderlust Wednesdays, which serve as a prompt and get their readers into a groove so they know what to expect from the blog.
What we can learn: weekly themes are useful when you feel like your blog is drifting from its intended focus and when your idea well is running dry!
The Brand: Modcloth
Modcloth’s target demographic is extremely niche, especially in comparison with the aforementioned brands. They reach out to twenty-something females who love somewhat retro, alternative clothing. For someone who fits the bill, their blog absolutely never gets boring to read. From their conversational, informal language to their cute, girly graphics, reading the Modcloth blog is kind of like having a chat with a friend.
What we can learn: be the target demographic! These blog posts don’t just talk about what cute clothes are for sale on the site – they offer recipes, recommend books, post art, discuss style icons and celebrities, and much more. You can tell their brainstorming sessions involve them getting into the mindset of their target audience and figuring out what things they’d want to talk about, which, to the potential customer, makes the blog worth sticking around for.
MOUNT LAUREL, NJ (OCT. 17, 2012) – Kenneth Wisnefski, founder and CEO of WebiMax, the fastest growing private company in New Jersey on the Inc. 500, announced the unveiling of a new website aimed at providing valuable information on brand management and reputation management for medium and large-sized businesses. Brand Management dot com delivers important information regarding how to successfully manage a brand’s presence online and furthermore includes important resources for decision makers at these institutions related to these services.
“I have discussed with many decision makers at some of the most reputable and largest businesses indicating that this community needs up-to-date resources on brand management techniques,” states Wisnefski, who founded WebiMax in 2008. “Brand Management dot com serves this purpose and furthermore provides valuable statistics on how brand management and reputation management have major impacts on consumers and their buying behaviors.”
While core fundamentals of the marketing mix and other key tangibles remain relevant for branding purposes, statistics indicate that the proactive management of the brand through online methods and techniques have become crucial elements in remaining competitive and building an authoritative brand. As of today, more than 89 percent of consumers said they use online channels to investigate the product and brand they are purchasing. In addition, approximately 87 percent of consumers indicated that positive reviews they have read online convince them to buy a specific product.
“Consumers today are leveraging technology more than they ever have before in their purchasing decisions,” states Wisnefski. “Today’s consumer is smarter and more aware of product and brand alternatives and how they are rated online, and 89 percent of them use these online reviews to make their purchasing decisions.”
Brand Management dot com includes statistics, case studies, a regularly updated blog, and other resources for businesses. The website is managed by a team of seasoned brand and reputation management experts that also develop these strategies for clients. Visit http://www.brandmanagement.com/ for more information.
Led by serial web entrepreneur Kenneth Wisnefski, WebiMax has become the leader in online marketing services, including a focus on Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, Paid Search and PPC, Website Design and Development, Reputation Management, and more. The company was named to the 2012 Inc. 500 (No. 37 overall) and was also selected as one of America’s Most Promising Companies (2011) by Forbes Magazine (No. 30 overall). The company employs over 125 personnel in 12 offices including 8 U.S. based, and 4 International. Visit http://www.webimax.com/ for more information.
The 2012 Olympics have begun and around the world, social media engagement levels have reached nearly record highs since the opening ceremonies. Millions of users have taken to networks such as Twitter and Facebook to voice their opinions on the athletes, events and even network television coverage of this year’s Games.
On Twitter, “#NBCFail” and “#Rule40″ have been consistently ranking as trending terms. In fact, the hashtags have even gotten mainstream publicity, with major online news outlets such as CNN and FOX Sports covering the social phenomenon. To NBC and the International Olympic Committee, however, the popularity of these hashtags is somewhat problematic. The “#NBCFail” hashtag is a reference to NBC’s broadcasting of the Games, as many fans feel that the network hasn’t provided satisfactory coverage of all of the Olympic events thus far. However, NBC has publicly responded to the social media backlash with the following statement from NBC Sports Chairman, Mark Lazarus:
“We’ve had some challenges. They’ve been documented by some of you and some of our critics in social media. Some of it is, in fact, fair and we are listening. We knew it wouldn’t be perfect and we said that before the games – we are trying new things.”
NBC’s acknowledgement of its social media detractors is not only a clear indicator of the influence of networks such as Twitter on the mainstream media, but it is also a testament to NBC’s ability to monitor the social space and pay attention to its viewers.
The “#Rule40″ hashtag refers to the IOC’s mandate regarding athletes’ mentioning of sponsors throughout social media for the duration of the Games. Many believe the rule is unfair to the athletes themselves, who rely largely on the income generated by their sponsorship deals. The presence of “#Rule40″ on Twitter has effectively brought the rule to the forefront of social media; but the IOC currently shows no signs of changing their policies regardless of public opinion.
As the 2012 Olympics continue, these and other trending topics related to the Games are likely to gain even more momentum across various social platforms. The importance of social media and online trends pertaining to this year’s event are undeniable and it is expected to be the single most discussed event throughout the online community in the weeks ahead.
For those of you who may have missed my recent appearance on FOX News to discuss Penn State’s reputation management issues, I mentioned the value of social media and its role in their online identity. In social media, in the SERPs and in the press, PSU faces a challenging road to re-establishing their brand. While Penn State’s focus at present may be short-term, their reputation crisis is not. Reputation management should be thought of an ongoing investment that requires consistent monitoring and maintenance.
Management or Maintenance?
There is a discernable difference between short-term management and long-term maintenance; however, both are important to any business or individual attempting to keep their online presence resoundingly positive. Social media, press releases and blogs are very powerful tools that Penn State has at their disposal and the university should utilize them to rebuild their reputation. On a long-term basis, these tools will allow PSU to issue new, positive content to the public and help to diminish the presence of negative material on the Web.
Progress Through Positivity
Part of brand recognition and identity is perception. The public perception of a company or an individual can largely factor into their overall success. For Penn State, perhaps the most powerful social asset is its own student body. PSU students are actively using various social platforms and are capable of both enhancing and maintaining the reputation of the university going forward.
By initiating a call to action in the form of a press release or social media outlet, Penn State could encourage its student body to emphasize the qualities of the institution and help to accentuate positivity and reduce negative content in the SERPs and throughout social media. Undoubtedly, the next several months will be crucial for Penn State. However, the university must also understand the importance of remaining reputable on the Web on a long-term basis in order to rebuild their brand.
He did everything he was supposed to. He sacrificed his free time to study. He was in band, SGA, and helped at a local convalescent home. He got rave reviews from several teachers and the principal of the high school. But, it wasn’t enough. A former student of mine didn’t get into his ‘A-list’ school. He got denied, despite paying close attention to the ‘algorithms’ of the situation.
What happened? Why, though he had it down to a ‘science,’ did my former student get denied? I don’t know the answer. He never found out either. But you know what? It is six years later; the dude’s in medical school now. Failed algorithmic realities couldn’t outrank his fervor to make his own future.
Today, I read an article in the New York Times about the future of robo-grading. I know some former peers are cheering. They’re likely the same teachers who didn’t like skimming student papers for writing or logical elements. “That’s for the English teacher!” is a far-too-oft philosophy of some.
I get a quasi-upset stomach in thinking of standardized testing as well; but, we need to judge the kids on something. We must rank them somehow…just like your brand’s Web pages. Google has built an algorithm, which subjectively objectively judges your page and domain worth… just like some sort of system was weighed upon my former student’s future.
“Oh come on, Anthony. We need some sort of system to ‘make sense of things.’” Yes, we do. Does more standardized thinking make sense in valuing the information of others? Google thinks so; and, so does particular academics, who champion the notion of statistic wizards hammering out a computer system that can grade papers ‘just like’ humans.
Recently, a competition took place, asking programmers to engineer a system which would predict the scores of human graders. As mentioned in the article, the system’s predictions were very close to the human notions of graders. There’s another competition on its way, one that will predict who, based on historical claims data, will be admitted to hospitals in the following year.
The computerized system may become a force within educational circles and districts. Some of the notions seem viable. The computerized system would save teacher time, mark papers, and offer additional assignments…because students are more likely to learn from computerized markings than human ones, correct?
So, this computerized system, is it any different than attempting to learn from particular textbooks, which house graded examples, answers to questions in the back, etc? Why even host a teacher in classrooms altogether? Do you need a marketer? Just adhere to Google’s Webmaster guidelines… I mean, the guidelines are written to satisfy an algorithm and not the human spirit, but…
Aren’t teachers, in part, supposed to ‘market’ the learning of their subject matter? Wasn’t a part of my job to be an inspiration, a model, a facilitator of learning? Did that human element contribute to the knowledge ascertained? I would like to think so.
But, just like Google, perhaps the ‘system’ thinks it is more convenient to create algorithms to judge people and their performance, to make them rank a particular way. Perhaps this way we can teach kids to write the ‘Penguin’ or ‘Panda’ way.
That’s what I want young people to learn, that they are only as good as the algorithm allows them to be, that their human fervor, the human spirit, can be called out like a robotically-demented Babe Ruth; but, this Babe doesn’t have time to sign any baseballs, visit sick kids in hospitals, or shake the hands of young fans. This one is just about the ‘facts’ of the matter.
That’s how you would like your marketing progress to go as well, correct? Never mind your consumers and the people element of marketing; an algorithm has your best interests, your best future in mind. But in case that gives you a quasi-upset feeling, there are a few marketers who don’t mind staying ‘after school’ to help explain things to you in human terms…
I just read a story in the New York Times related to Jiffy Lube and it’s recently changed and newly-lubed marketing approach. The oil-change brand is infusing some humor into its ads and fresh-penned tagline, “Leave worry behind.”
Ha ha, I get it, Jiffy Lube; you’re poking fun at consumer anxieties. Good one! I chose to write about this because the topic is fresh in my mind. About three months ago, I brought my Jeep Wrangler in for an oil change at a local mechanic shop. I moved to a new area about four months ago.
When I picked up my car after the oil change, something I’ve come to almost expect (sarcastically) confronted me. “You got a leak. You’ll need a new water pump.” Admittedly, I can wrap my head around ‘water’ and ‘pump’; but, I have no idea what a “water pump” does, costs, looks like, how to assess if it’s damaged, etc…
It’s a very uncomfortable feeling. Is this mechanic taking me for a ride, especially since I’m a ‘noob,’ a new person in town? Maybe it is paranoia, maybe it is experience, but I can’t help but ask the question…
The mechanic mentioned the job would tally over $300. I’m just a poor writer. I opted to let it go for a while and get other recommendations. Two days ago, I brought my Jeep to another mechanic, my landlord’s (who is also my friend) friend. I told him I needed another oil change and told him about the leak.
For one, he advised me that shops, that solely do minor jobs like oil changes, can ‘beat him out’ on the price of oil changes. He charges $80. A “jiffy” place may charge half that or a little more; they get price breaks on oil apparently. I like having money…but I also like doing business with honest people… I may shell out the additional $30 to $40 just because this guy was honest.
Additionally, he looked at my ‘leak.’ He did mention a slow leak but nothing I should be immediately concerned about. I thought that was odd since the first mechanic, from three months ago, mentioned there was “no way” I could let that water pump go for another month (“at the very latest!”) Hmm…seems two ‘experts’ have a difference in opinion, yes?
Well, let me bring it all in together. So, Jiffy’s new ad series will poke fun at situations like mine. From NY Times story:
“Because most people are not proficient in the mechanics of a car, they’re worried when they bring their car in for something that a mechanic will find something different that they weren’t aware of. There’s always that uncertainty: ‘Is the work being performed on my car really necessary?’”
How many out there, receiving some form of online marketing or SEO advice or services, feel the same way? I feel your anxiety! However, I’m not sure if I would lampoon your anxiety to promote online marketing services.
Ethically questionable or unscrupulous practices are not a laughing matter in my world. I don’t think making light-hearted attempts to express a dark side of an industry is a way to assuage the anxieties of unknowing consumers. It would be comparable to an SEO company attempting humor at simulating situations of ‘burned’ clients, while simultaneously trying to attract clients with the same needs.
Alternatively, if I’m a brand that recognizes injustices, I may engineer my ads to express an upstanding personality, like the one of the second mechanic, rather than possibly add to the insult of my industry through humor. What are your thoughts?